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Ah-Chiou Lee, Fang-Shin Liao and Hsiao-Feng Lo

The production of lettuce, a cool-season leafy vegetable, in high tunnels the year around is a challenge for growers in subtropical regions. The aims of this research were to characterize the growth of locally grown lettuce cultivars, develop a new high-yielding cultivar by crossing romaine-type lettuce ‘Jhih Li Wo’ and Batavia type lettuce ‘Fu San’, and determine the relationships between climatic variables, temperature, and daylength, and days to harvest for maximum marketable yield (DMMY) in individual cultivars in high tunnels. Nine cultivars were grown in high tunnels in the spring and winter of 2008 and summer of 2009 to evaluate growth and maximum marketable yield (MMY), the latter being defined as the aboveground fresh weight of 5 ± 0.7 cm of plant stem. Romaine lettuce ‘Jhih Li Wo’ had a higher growth rate during the initiation of plant growth in the spring of 2008. ‘Jhih Li Wo’ and Batavia lettuce ‘Fu San’ also showed higher growth rate before harvest for the MMY (GRBHD) and exhibited higher MMY and DMMY than butterhead lettuce and leaf lettuce cultivars under summer and winter regimes. However, landraces of leaf lettuce are the main lettuces grown in high tunnels in summer rather than ‘Fu San’ and ‘Jhih Li Wo’ due to their needing fewer DMMY and having a more upright growth form. Among nine cultivars studied, Batavia lettuce ‘Fu San’, romaine lettuce ‘Jhih Li Wo’, and landrace ‘Bai Yeh Wo’ were found to be more adaptable to summer weather. Genotypes with superior growth and yield traits are essential for not only production but also breeding. A new cultivar, Taoyuan No.3, was developed by introducing the high growth rate trait during the initial period of plant growth from romaine lettuce ‘Jhih Li Wo’ into high-yielding Batavia lettuce ‘Fu San’. Another experiment was performed over eight successive seasons to analyze the correlation of temperature and daylength on DMMY for each cultivar using multiple regression analysis from 2008 to 2009. This showed that the proposed models expressed as coefficients of multiple determinants (R 2) accounted for 72% to 91% of the total variation in DMMY in each cultivar. Temperature affected DMMY the most and the relative contributions of temperature and daylength to DMMY differed with cultivar. These results provide information about production practices for growers in subtropical regions to use in choosing suitable lettuce cultivars.