Growing microgreens: maybe the ultimate specialty crop!

Nancy E. Roe

Abstract


Microgreens have been a popular product with chefs in quot;high endquot; restaurants for over 10 years. The most commonly used species are those in the crucifer family (Brassica and Eruca spp.). Some buyers like herbs or greens such as basil (Ocimum basilicum), celery (Apium graveolens L.), cress (Lepidium spp.), and cilantro (Coriandrum sativum L.), as well as pea (Pisum sativum L.) shoots and corn (Zea mays L.) sprouts. We grow in 25 - 50 cm flats filled with a commercial peat and perlite or vermiculite mix. Production problems include quot;damping offquot;, birds, and (rarely) insects. The crops are grown only to cotyledons or first leaf, cut manually, and sold by weight in plastic boxes. Some chefs prefer to buy the greens uncut in the flat and cut their own as needed. Although microgreens are sold for high prices, production costs, such as the medium, seed, and hand labor, are also high. They also must be refrigerated and cannot be stored for long periods of time so most are sold locally or shipped with cold packs via overnight mail. Although growers in some areas say that the markets for microgreens are quot;saturatedquot;, there are still openings for small growers in other areas, since many restaurants prefer to buy this product locally.

Keywords


Anethum graveolens; Apium graveolens; Beta vulgaris; Brassica spp.; Coriandrum sativum; Daucus carota; Eruca spp.; Foeniculum vulgare; Lepidium spp.; Ocimum basilicum; Perilla frutescens; Pisum sativum; Zea mays

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283