Salinas Stands Lettuce Industry on Its
Every lettuce that you buy in an American supermarket today can likely be
traced to the work of ARS plant breeders.
Best known of the ARS lettuces is Salinas, a crisp-textured, attractively
shaped variety that became a classic soon after it was introduced to growers in
Developed at Salinas, California, by ARS plant breeder Edward J. Ryder, this
cultivar arrived at markets with less crushing and bruising than other icebergs
of its time. And, compared to other icebergs, Salinas had the highest level of
resistance to tip-burn disease. Tipburn causes leaf edges to brown and die.
That makes the lettuce vulnerable to attack by slime-producing bacteria and
In the years since Salinas' debut, breeders at vegetable seed companies have
produced new, Salinas-derived cultivars with improvements such as resistance to
Ryder also has fine-tuned the original. His Salinas 88, offered to seed
companies and growers in 1988, possesses all the attributes of the famous
parent plus resistance to lettuce mosaic virus disease. The disease causes an
unattractive mosaic pattern of dark and light green on leaves of infected
plants and reduces yields.
Today, Salinas and its progeny are the most widely planted iceberg lettuces
in the Salinas valley, the world's foremost lettuce-growing region. The variety
and its spin-offs bring about $300 million a year.
Farmers in other parts of California and in Arizona, New Mexico, and several
foreign countriesincluding England, Spain, Israel, France, Sweden,
Finland, Australia, and Japanalso raise these lettuces. -- By
Marcia Wood, ARS.
Ryder is at the
Agricultural Research Station, 1636 E. Alisal St., Salinas, CA 93905; phone
(831) 755-2813, fax (831) 755-2814.
"Salinas Stands Lettuce Industry on Its Head"
was published in the April 1995 issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.