|dc.description.abstract||Leafy vegetables, lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Green Oakleaf), pak choi (Brassica sinensis L. cv. Oriental Taisai) and rocket (Eruca sativa L.), were planted in an open field at Lincoln University on January 2005. Plants were harvested at 5 cm cutting height above the growing point with three different harvest start times, early start (ES), mid start (MS) and late start (LS) of harvest respectively. There were three harvests during the growing season with a 4-week interval between harvests.
Generally, lettuce produced significantly higher total FW/plant (208 g) than pak choi or rocket (123 and 102 g total FW/plant, respectively). Lettuce also produced significantly higher total FW/plant than pak choi or rocket in each treatment.
Lettuce produced significantly more total saleable leaf FW/plant in the ES, MS and LS treatment (137.5, 120.9 and 169.3 g FW/plant), compared with pak choi (52.9, 100 and 92 g FW/plant) or rocket (31.5, 92.2 and 56.4 g FW/plant). Pak choi produced higher total saleable leaf FW/plant than rocket in the ES and LS treatments, but a similar total saleable leaf FW/plant in the MS treatment.
The best time to start harvesting was the LS treatment for lettuce, while pak choi and rocket produced better yields in the MS and LS treatments.
Results for total DW/plant showed that different harvest start times did not affect the total DW/plant in lettuce. However, pak choi and rocket produced less total DW/plant in the ES treatment compared to the MS or LS treatments. This was due to a faster recovery by lettuce. In addition, lettuce produced significantly higher DW/plant during regrowth at the second and third harvests than pak choi or rocket, even though it was significantly lower at the first harvest. It is likely that after harvesting greater carbohydrate reserves and greater remaining leaf area produced greater regrowth potential in lettuce. These results suggest that lettuce has the most regrowth potential, while rocket has more than pak choi in this reaping and regrowth system.
When plants were harvested at the same cutting level, lettuce had the most remaining leaf area of the three species. This remaining leaf area for lettuce could be another reason for faster recovery and more regrowth potential. More reserves and remaining leaf area may also be the reason for more regrowth potential in rocket compared to pak choi.
Another important reason for the better performance of lettuce was that temperatures during the growing season were in the range of optimum temperatures (12-21 ºС), except for the regrowth between the second and third harvests in the LS. This relates to higher photosynthetic rates and in turn leads to faster recovery and regrwoth.
Lettuce was the most suitable crop in the reaping and regrowth system in this experiment. However, rocket might also be appropriate for this system, particularly if the price is high enough to make it economically viable.||en