I have a couple friends who grow professionally. Some deal in horticultural and traditional farming, others grow hydroponically. The ones who work in the latter – a majority, at least – say lettuce was their first try at hydroponics. It didn’t cost much to start and, depending on the demand, it was a great revenue area (read more about indoor lettuce on page 10).
The hydro guys tell me growing lettuce gives you more bang for your buck; less time and effort (relatively speaking); and no soil. On the other side, the traditional growers say the soil is important. That’s where the relationship with farming starts, plus who’s a better assistant than Mother Nature? Honestly, we can go back and forth on this. However, I digress.
We are here for lettuce, and we head out West – Arizona – this month for our featured producer, Mellon Farms in Yuma (page 12). Arizona, as well as California, serves as the epicenter for the green leaf. Together, the two states account for 98 percent of leaf lettuce production in the United States. Lettuce is at the top of the vegetable food chain. It accounts for 12 percent of our nation’s exports with a production value of more than $1.4 billion.
Knowing this is a crop of such importance, I’m pleased that we can shine a spotlight on the details of lettuce production. As mentioned in these pages, the process is labor intensive, no matter what environment. With this in mind, we want to help growers tend to pest control and weed eradication concerns (see pages 24 and 26).
Also in this issue, lettuce (the last time, I promise) not fail to mention pest management of our orchards this season (page 6), the interesting debate between no-till and how it’ll affect our climate (organic vs. conventional, see page 8), and how to balance political and personal expectations when choosing an insecticide (page 18).
I hope you find great value in our pages as much as our editorial staff found great pleasure in creating subtle “lettuce” puns. Good luck in your harvest, and cheers!