Radicchio: Diverse, Climatically Appropriate, and Filling a Niche Market

Posted on Monday, 5 October 2020 under Public Seed Events

An article in Heated, by Kristy Mucci, “A Chicory to Dismantle Late-Stage Capitalism” presents radicchio in a very interesting new light. Radicchio, a cool-weather crop, could be the answer to extending farmers’ market crops into the cold seasons and provide an alternative to shipping up salad greens grown in the deserts of California and Arizona. The salad green industry is not only taking away from the local markets, it is ‘emptying the Colorado River before it even reaches the ocean’. Radicchio could be one of the solutions to dismantling an unsustainable agricultural food system driven by capitalism as it, “localizes and decentralizes the power of the salad industry, it’s also delicious,” says Chandler Briggs of Hayshaker Farm in Walla Walla, Washington.

We are trialing radicchio in this year’s Canadian Organic Vegetable Improvement (CANOVI) variety trials due to its increasing popularity, ability to grow well in cold conditions, winter availability, promotion of low input agriculture, and re-localization of food production. We were initially inspired by an engaging Vancouver Radicchio Festival in 2019, which fingers crossed may be happening again in some form or another. Radicchio is a member of the chicory family, growing September through March, depending on how cold your region gets. In the 2020 CANOVI Radicchio trial, we have 44 farms participating through 8 provinces from British Columbia to New Brunswick.

We are focusing on four main market classes this year which are:


Tight round head and typically purplish to red.

Varieties we are trialing in this class are Leonardo F1, Giulietta, Indigo F1, Sirio OP, 4050 (PL), Drake, and Rubro.


Looser, sofer leaves, typically speckled and mild in flavour.

Varieties are Variegata di Castlefranco, Cecilia, Lucrezia and Fenice.


Speckled with a tight head.

Varieties are Bel Firore, Radicchio di Lusica, Di Luisa and Bornio Tardiva.


Elongated and firm, with juicy midrib.

Varieties are TVG1, Di Treviso, Bottiglione Treviso, and Early Trevisio.

Photos are from our Research and Education Seed Farm. We also included a few varieties that have not yet been grouped into a market class and those are; Verona red 1490, Palla Rosa Special, and Rossa di Verona.

Craving more? In August, the seed team met with researchers from the Culinary Breeding Network/ Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement (NOVIC), CANOVI/ UBC Farm/ Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and a handful of brilliant plant breeders across North America. Find the recording on our YouTube channel and get an in-depth understanding of trialing, growing, seed saving, and engaging with radicchio. Also, take a peek at this seed series podcast with Lane Selman of the Culinary Breeding Network as she explores radicchio varieties and other vegetables to eat in the winter.

Stay tuned for more radicchio hype. It’s certainly the trending cool crop these days.