The regional government of Murcia, through the Murcian Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Research and Development (IMIDA), is developing a project to improve the quality of Murcia's lettuce varieties, which is already bearing fruit.
Antonio Luengo, the Minister of Agriculture, stressed during his visit to the Murciana de Vegetales company, which has collaborated with the IMIDA on the project since 2014, that "the biggest milestone so far has been obtaining a new lettuce variety called Caribú, which is currently being registered in the Office of Commercial Varieties and that the company is already promoting and marketing."
"IMIDA promotes the development of new horticultural varieties that maintain the qualities and flavor of the traditional varieties but that have been adapted to the current climatic conditions," Luengo stated.
In this case, the main goal is evaluating and selecting traditional lettuce varieties according to agronomic behavior and quality criteria so they can be used by producers or used to develop new varieties.
Researchers have evaluated more than 100 traditional lettuce varieties from IMIDA's germplasm bank (BAGERIM) so far. They have carried out various plant selection activities, morpho-agronomic characterization in different production systems, and evaluation of organoleptic and nutritional (antioxidants, chlorophylls, anthocyanins...) quality parameters.
"IMIDA's 'Improvement of Horticultural Crops and Sustainability and Quality of Horticultural Products' team has worked together with the technicians of the Murciana de Vegetales company since 2014, thanks to the different collaboration contracts that they have signed," the Minister added.
800 hectares of crops
Murciana de Vegetales is a family business dedicated to production and research in the lettuce sector. Since its creation in 1990, it has focused its professional activity on Little Gem, Romaine, Cresta, Mini Romaine, and other lettuce varieties. In addition, it covers the entire process, from the seedbed to the table.
The company has 35,000 square meters of greenhouses. In total, it has 800 hectares of crops that it rotates to grow a total of seven varieties. Its main customers include some supermarket chains with a presence in Europe.