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How to start a Profitable Lettuce Farming Business – 9 Steps

Lettuce farming is an untapped goldmine. It’s a booming business that all crop farmers should look into. Lettuce is a popular vegetable used in the preparation of salad. It is also used in decorating food. It is crispy and has green or red crimson leaves, contains essential nutrients which are beneficial to man health wise. Lettuce is a rich source of vitamin K and vitamin A, and a moderate source of folate and iron.

This plant belongs to the ASTERACEAE family. Botanically, it is called LACTUCA, which it’s derived it’s English name from LETTUCE. Lettuce farming was first done by the Egyptians who turned it from being a weed to a seed plant. Planting of lettuce is done for its succulent leaves, which can be consumed raw.

It later spread to the Greeks and Romans. Lettuce is easily cultivated, although it requires relatively low temperatures to prevent it from flowering quickly. It can be plagued by numerous nutrient deficiencies, as well as insect, mammal pests, fungal and bacterial diseases.

However, In Nigeria, Lettuce farming was mainly practiced in Plateau State, due to their favorable weather and soil conditions. Later in the following years, a lot has changed, lettuce is now grown in almost all the states in the country, including the federal capital FCT. This is due to improved seeds, and some agronomic practices that must be strictly adhered to.

VARIETIES OF LETTUCE FOR LETTUCE FARMING.

Stem lettuce variety: They have elongated bitter leaves and are mostly preferred by the Chinese., celery
lettuce, asparagus lettuce, or Chinese lettuce, is a cultivar of lettuce grown primarily for its thick stem or
its leaves.

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Butter head (butter crunch) variety: They have loose heads, very tender flavored leaves Romaine (cos) lettuce variety: There leaves are of different shapes which are loosely arranged around the stem.

Oak leaf (Darwin lettuce) variety: They are resistant to heat and good for commercial purpose. Crisp head lettuce variety: They have a few loose leaves with densely compacted heads.

Picture credit: Quaritsch Photography 

STEPS INVOLVED IN STARTING A LETTUCE FARMING.

  1. selection and sorting
  2. Planting
  3. Understand uniform planting
  4. Transplanting
  5. Irrigation
  6. Weeding
  7. Control of pests and diseases
  8. Harvesting
  9. Marketing

Acquiring and preparation of land: The first step to take in starting this business is getting the land, Clearing it and leveling the ground. Applying organic manure while preparing the land. Raise a nursery bed of 1m in length and about 10-15 cm high.

The plant should be 3-4 cm in-depth. This will help the small seeds to grow uniformly and very fast. Transfer the seedlings between 3-4 weeks (the pencil thick stage). Treat the soil with insecticides 2 weeks before planting to make sure nothing will stand as a hindrance to their performance (growth). Give a spacing of either 45 by 30cm or 30 by 30cm.

They can grow in any kind of soil but for optimum growth sandy-loam is preferable, soil that can easily absorb and
drain water.

Selection and sorting:

Sorting out for the best variety that suit the soil and location of the farm matters a lot. There are various varieties of lettuce, some have; big round leaves, small leaves, light green, dark red, narrow leaves, freckled wide etc.

Planting:

Planting comes after land preparation. It can be done in two ways; by the use of seed or through stem. The cutting will in turn help the standing lettuce to grow very fast and also help in the development of the shoot. Spread the seeds in a row, the seeds are so tiny so there might be need to pay attention when planting.

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Uniform planting.

Thinning has to be done after growth, it should be 2-3 inches apart then thin again when half-grown. Plant under shades, although every plant needs the sun to do well, for lettuce, it should be reduced because they easily burn-out.

The reason being that they have shallow roots and have to stay in a moist soil to survive. Lettuce seeds grow in 7 to 10 days. Seeds should be planted 3-4cm deep and thinned when plants have 3 to 4 true leaves. Some plants can also be inter-cropped which can also serve as shades, these are; eggplant, pepper, tomatoes etc.

Transplanting

This should be done when they are big enough to be handled. As said earlier, Transplants should have 3-4 true leaves and a well-developed root system before planting out. Transfer the seedlings between 3-4 weeks. Give a spacing of either 45 by 30cm or 30 by 30cm.

Irrigation of the lettuce farming business

This plant needs water to survive so there should be provision of adequate water for them to do well. Watering them in an interval of 3-4 days daily during hot weather. Stagnant water shouldn’t be allowed on the farm and there should be creation of erosion avenue so water can pass by during heavy rainfall.

Weeding of the lettuce farming business

Lettuce does not have a rapid growth at the beginning and can easily be overpowered by
weeds. Therefore weed should not be allowed in the farm at any point. For optimal growth and yield,
weeding should be carried out at least twice before harvest.

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Control of pests and diseases:

Before starting a lettuce farm, there should be provisions for insecticides because lettuce are easily attacked by pest and diseases more than any other vegetable. The plant can be attacked by so many pest and disease. Common diseases that affects lettuce are: Leaf Spot, Bottom Rot, Downy Mildew, Lettuce Drop Lettuce, Mosaic Virus. It’s common pests are: Crickets, Flea beetles, corn earworms, army worms, aphids, grasshoppers etc.

Harvesting:

Depending on the variety planted, Lettuce takes about 6-8 weeks to mature or 5-6 weeks after transplanting, it’s harvest should be done quickly to avoid bolting (a situation where it doesn’t make leaves but seeds). Late harvesting can also make them bitter. Cut lettuce plant an inch above the soil surface or remove the outer leaves leaving behind the center leaves to continue growth. Another way is by uprooting or digging up the whole lettuce crop.

Marketing:

Lettuce has a short life span, which is why it is necessary to have the target market at hand
before planting

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I am Israel Otoijamun, the Founder of Ofarms.ng. I am a blogger, web and graphics designer, brand manager, product manager and farmer. I have interests in crypto currency, technology, business and agriculture.

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Israel Otoijamun

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