Last revised February 10, 2010
Endive (curled, deeply cut, leaf types): Green-curled: Lorca, Ruffec (resists cold and wet conditions), Salad King. For trial: Large Green-curled White-ribbed, White Curled, Frisan, Wallonne Frisan (resistant to low temperatures), De Meaux, Crispy Green (heat resistant).
"Baby" endive: Tosca. For trial: Galia.
Belgian endive or French endive: These are other names for witloof or witloof chicory. See seperate Witloof file.
Escarole (broad, crumpled leaf types): Broad Batavian Full Hearted, Full Heart Batavian, Grosse Bouclee (slow bolting). For trial: Grosse Bouclee (slow bolting); Salanca (cold tolerant, for late fall or early spring).
Curled-leaf endive. Photo credit: Alex Stone, Oregon State University
Endive and escarole may be grown on a wide range of soil types. Loose fertile loams, and muck soils are best. Soils should provide good water holding capacity and good internal drainage, and a pH of 6.5 and above. Since a number of these items are harvested in the fall, soils should be chosen that allow harvest in moderately rainy conditions.
Endive and escarole seed numbers 350,000 to 400,000 per pound. Use a fungicide treated seed whenever possible. Have germination checked before planting if germination value is not known or current. Pelletizing seed allows precision planting. Some companies offer primed seed which can improve stand establishment under certain stress conditions.
Endive and escarole crops perform best under cool temperatures and are therefore grown in early spring or late fall. Varieties are available for summer (July and August) harvest.
Plant as early in the spring as possible and stagger plantings once or twice per week, planting only what can be harvested and sold during that interval. The quicker growing leaf lettuces may be planted until the end of August.
Transplant only for the earliest crops. Grow transplants 6 weeks prior to the time they are needed using modular trays, allowing l to l.5 square inches per plant.
Rows should be 15-18 inches apart. Plants should be 10 - 12 inches apart depending on cultivar and crop being grown.
Nitrogen: 100-150 (N) lb/acre - should be split in 2 applications.
Phosphorus: 100-150 (P2O5)lb/acre - apply all at time of seeding or transplanting, preferably banded 2 inches to the side and 2 inches below the seed or plant roots.
Potassium: 50-150 (K2O) lb/acre - broadcast prior to planting.
Sulfur: 20-30 (S) lb/acre - broadcast prior to planting.
These recommendations are intended to provide adequate fertilizer. Nitrogen rates especially may need to be adjusted depending on crop, planting date, weather conditions and soil type.
These crops require a uniform supply of water for tender growth. Frequent irrigations are preferred because these crops are shallow rooted. A total of 8-12 inches of water may be necessary depending on crop, seasonal variation, planting date, and variety.
Soil type does not affect the amount of total water needed, but does dictate frequency of water application. Lighter soils need more frequent water applications, but less water applied per application.
The University of California-Davis has a file on Minimal Processing of Fresh Vegetables that discusses film wrapping and other topics.
Average yields for both endive and escarole are approximately 130 cwt/acre with good yields about 180 cwt/acre.
Harvest is usually by hand and the greens are packed into cartons in the field. Keep the leafy items clean, free of soil and mud. Ideally these crops have a spicy and mildly bitter taste. A strong bitter taste, and toughness, develops if harvest is delayed or if crop is over-mature, and then the product become unmarketable.
Specialty leaf lettuces, endive, and other greens for bag mixes have usually been harvested by hand, but mechanical harvesters for this use are now available.
Hold endive and escarole at 32 F and 95 to 100 % relative humidity. Endive and escarole are leafy salad greens not adapted to long storage. Even at 32 F, which is considered to be the best storage temperature, they cannot be expected to keep satisfactorily for more than 2 or 3 weeks. Vacuum cooling or hydrocooling can help maintain their fresh appearance. They should keep somewhat longer if stored with cracked ice in or around the packages. The relative humidity in rooms where endive or escarole is held should be kept above 95 % to prevent wilting.
All these crops are packaged in cartons containing 10-20 lb, depending on the item. Consult buyers for preferred packaging, and container sizes.