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Foolproof Drip Irrigation Tips For Lettuce

Chapin Costa 1

On average, Americans eat 30 pounds of lettuce every year so getting the highest yields of lettuce while maximizing water savings is becoming increasingly more important.  In this article, you will find interesting facts about lettuce as well as some foolproof drip irrigation tips. Lettuce production in California primarily occurs along coastal regions with a very small percentage in the Central San Joaquin Valley.  70% of all lettuce production in the U.S. comes from California. The next closest state is Arizona with 28%.

Facts About Lettuce Crops and The Industry

  • Lettuce production in California is typically contract grown.
  • Over 50% of all lettuce acres are grown for packaged salads and mixes.
  • There are 102 lettuce growers in California.
  • 41% of all California lettuce growers own cooler and sales operations.

Drip Irrigation Growing Rapidly in California

  • Yield increases 25% when growers make the change from sprinkler to drip irrigation.
  • There is less diseased (mildew) experienced with drip tape.
  • Ease of harvest, better with drip.
  • Water use is reduced by 15%.
  • The quality of the lettuce improves with drip.

Typical Drip Product Used on Lettuce

  • Run-length 900-1200 ft.
  • Most common drip tape MIL thickness, flow rates, and spacing:  7/8 8mil, 10mil, 15mil with 8” spacing and .40 flow gpm/100 feet.

Typical Layout

  • Lettuce is commonly grown on 40” and 80” beds.
  • 80” beds use 3 lines of drip tape: 3.54 reels/acre (based on 7/8 8mil.)
  • 40” beds use 1 line of drip tape: 2.35 reels/acre (based on 7/8 8mil.)

Planting and Germination

  • Lettuce is 68% direct seeded and 32% transplanted.
  • Lettuce is almost always germinated with sprinklers. Once the lettuce is up, the drip tape is installed.
  • New trends include germinating with drip tape that requires the drip tape to be buried 4” prior to planting.

Lettuce Facts

  • Drip tape cost per acre is around $430.00/acre.
  • Head lettuce acres: 145,000.
  • Leaf lettuce acres: 66,000.
  • Head lettuce yields: 1100 cartons per acre.
  • Leaf lettuce yields: 1000 cartons per acre.
  • Average price per carton: $8.75.

Jain Irrigation Products Used ( Visit the Chapin Drip Tape Product Page here)

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