Anthocyanins (Antho) are the source of red color in plants and the intensity of redness is an important quality parameter in red leaf lettuce. Despite the importance of Antho in leaf lettuce, little information is available regarding the effects of major production-related factors, such as planting date, on their levels. To address this issue, field studies were conducted in 2002 and 2003 in which Antho levels were measured in nine lettuce varieties planted in early and late summer (ES and LS, respectively) using a RCB design. Leaf tissue was sampled 30 d after transplanting. Data for three strongly related Lolla Rossa-type varieties (`Lotto', `Valeria', `Impuls') are reported here. The planting date × variety interaction was significant; however, Antho concentrations were higher following planting in LS than ES, regardless of variety. Planting date effects were more pronounced in 2002, when differences in average daily temperature between ES and LS plantings tended to be larger. Regardless of planting date and year, Antho levels followed the pattern `Impuls' (three genes) > `Valeria' (two genes) > `Lotto' (one gene). Correlations between human visual and two types of instrumented assessments of color are being tested in samples from the same study.
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