WHAT IS LETTUCE?
Lettuce is the leaves of the lettuce plant. There are two main
types of lettuce: head lettuce and leaf lettuce. The most familiar
type of head lettuce is iceberg, but others include butterhead and
romaine. Leaf lettuce comes in a variety of shapes and colours. Some
have broad leaves; some have curly leaves; others have reddish
WHERE IS LETTUCE PRODUCED IN BC?
Lettuce is commercially grown in the Lower Mainland and on
HOW MUCH LETTUCE DO WE PRODUCE?
BC produces 10 million kilograms which is about 15% of the
lettuce grown in Canada. 60% of the lettuce grown is head lettuce;
40% is leaf lettuce.
HOW IS LETTUCE PRODUCED?
Lettuce can be grown in fields or in greenhouses. For field
lettuce, lettuce is seeded in a greenhouse and planted out as soon
as the bed can be prepared. Some producers precision seed the
lettuce directly into the field. Leaf lettuce is harvested about 50
days after planting while head lettuce takes closer to 75 days.
Lettuce is planted in consecutive plantings so that there is a
supply available throughout the growing season. That is, as soon as
the first planting has germinated and emerged, the second planting
is seeded. Head lettuce is harvested with the help of a mechanical
harvesting aid, whereas the leaf lettuces are usually harvested by
hand into cartons in the field.
In greenhouses, the lettuce is seeded in peat blocks and
transplanted to the final media in 2 to 3 weeks in the summer or 4
to 6 weeks in the winter. The most common kind of lettuce grown in
greenhouses is butterhead lettuce, which is loose heads of tender,
rounded leaves. It is mature at 150 to 300g a head. The full cycle
takes 6 to 7 weeks in summer and 10 to 12 weeks in the winter.
WHAT DOES LETTUCE LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?
Lettuce is used fresh in salads or sandwiches and as a garnish.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE LETTUCE LEAVES THE FARM?
Once a truck is loaded with cartons, it is taken to the co-op
where the lettuce is cooled immediately It can then be held in cold
storage or shipped directly to wholesale distributors in reefer
(cooled) trucks. A general rule of thumb is that lettuce loses one
day of shelf life for every hour that it is not cooled after
harvest. Expected shelf life for lettuce is approximately two weeks.
The majority of sales are in BC with some export sales to the
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THE LETTUCE PRODUCER FACE?
Lettuce is quite sensitive to most herbicides. Growers must find
alternative ways to control weed growth during the growing season.
Crop rotation, thorough clean-up of weeds before seeding, the use of
only well-rotted weed-free manure, and tilling between rows are all
practices which can help limit weed growth and labour intensive hand
weeding. Growers also face intense competition from California and
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING LETTUCE?
- Lettuce grower
- Field worker
- Agri-business suppliers
- IPM companies
Interesting Fact About Lettuce:
The first lettuce grown in the Americas was introduced to Haiti
by Christopher Columbus.
- Contacts and other resources:
BCMAL - Field Vegetable Information
- BC Vegetable Marketing
- InfoBasket: Your Portal to Agri-Food Information on the Internet