Curly endive can be grown seasonally with mild sunshine and moderate temperatures. Fall harvests are ideal as too much sun or warmth can cause bolting and bitterness in the shaggy leaves. As it approaches maturity, curly endive is often covered to prevent sun from reaching the plants to maintain coloring, tenderness, and flavor.

Belgian endive has a complex, labor-intensive growing process as it begins with field-grown chicory. Blue-flowered chicory seed is planted in loamy or mucky soils, grows leafy foliage over several months, then is dug up in the fall for its carrot-like taproot and crown. Delayed harvesting (after more than 150 days in the ground) may cause plants to bolt.

The roots are cleaned and stored in dark, cool, humid conditions similar to mushrooms, until the temperature is raised and the bud is ‘forced’ to regrow in soil or hydroponic solution. In about three weeks, new white shoots called chicons, tinged with red or pale
yellow-green tips, emerge in an elongated torpedo shape. Once the tops are snapped or broken off, roots are discarded or repurposedas cattle feed. Exposure to light during the growing process can cause bitterness in the leaves.

Escarole is much the opposite; it is a cool season crop and grows best with ample sun and consistent moisture in well-drained soil. Plastic mulch can help regulate soil temperatures, prevent weeds, and retain moisture (a lack of moisture can cause bitterness). Plants should have ample space, with about a foot between them, as over-crowding (and high temperatures) can lead to bolting.

Both Belgian endive and escarole should be cooled after harvest to 34 to 36°F with high relative humidity (95 to 100%). They are, however, susceptible to freezing injury if stored below 32°F for any period of time. Although a low producer of ethylene, exposure to higher levels can cause yellowing.

There is only one grade for escarole, endive, or chicory: U.S. No. 1. Plants should have similar varietal characteristics with fresh, well-trimmed and fairly well blanched leaves, free from decay and damage. There should be no broken, bruised, spotted, or discolored leaves, or evidence of wilt, dirt, disease, or insects.

References: Oregon State University, Rutgers University, University of Florida/IFAS Extension, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USDA.


Generally speaking, the percentage of defects shown on a timely government inspection certificate should not exceed the percentage of allowable defects, provided: (1) transportation conditions were normal; (2) the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection was timely; and (3) the entire lot was inspected.

U.S. Grade Standards Days Since Shipment % of Defects Allowed Optimum Transit Temp. (°F)
10-5-2 5

There are no good arrival guidelines for this commodity specific to Canada; U.S. guidelines apply to shipments unless otherwise agreed by contract.

References: DRC, PACA, USDA.


Weekly Movements and Prices, USA

Source: Chart by Gallo Torrez Agricultural Price Trends (GTAPT),, compiled from USDA data.

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