Popular with foodservice operators who want to provide a premium salad, "one-cut" and mini lettuce heads are growing popular at premium retailers, according to Enza Zaden. ( Courtesy Enza Zaden )

Enza Zaden welcomed more than 100 growers, shippers and seed dealers to its San Juan Bautista Research Station to highlight the company’s leafy green varieties.

The field days event, June 11-13, allowed Enza Zaden to highlight trends and innovations at the research station, which features 13 crops, 27 new varieties and more than 70 commercial varieties for viewing, according to a news release.

Some of the highlights of the field tours were:

  • Spinach: About three years ago, the company focused on research to create spinach downy mildew-resistant varieties, and in 2020, the company will release 2 or 3 new varieties that are resistant to downy mildew.
  • Lettuce: Buyers like “one-cut” and mini-head lettuces, according to John Bauer, of Johnny’s Selected Seeds, who participated in the tour. “We are seeing a trend toward more little gems, mini-romaines and growers wanting to match red and green varieties for head size, speed of growth, leaf-shape and the overall need for more disease resistance for organic,” he said in the release.
  • Eazyleaf: Enza Zaden’s one-cut lettuce, Eazyleaf, has seen success with foodservice operators looking for premium salads, but the branded lettuce is expanding to higher-end retailers, according to the release.
  • The farm tours help Enza Zaden learn about what growers value in different varieties.

“A field day event goes beyond showcasing varieties. This week was about brainstorming,” Jean-Francois Thomin, Enza Zaden marketing manager, said in the release. “Each grower has its own strategy to create value and to strive in a very competitive environment. We cannot breed individual solutions, but we can certainly breed tailor-made programs that will allow for product differentiation.”

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