Hardy Basil Varieties
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Patrick Bastow
Posted on: September 1, 1998

Thank you for sending us your Herb Catalogue for 1998.

We are commercial herb growers in the UK. We are looking for a hardy variety of basil. The leaves must be able to be stored at 2-5 degrees [Celsius]. Currently in the UK basil has to be stored at 12 degrees otherwise the leaves get cold damage. To find a basil variety with 2-5 degree storage capabilites with the normal basil aroma would be very advantageous.

We are not aware of any sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) variety that is specifically known to tolerate temperatures that low. We are not aware of any research on this question.

We would suggest that you experiment with the smaller leaf basils such as Spicy Globe or Sweet Fine. If there is a way that you can lower the nitrogen and the temperature (ca. 12-15 degrees Celsius) for a few weeks before harvest time, that may produce foliage that is a little tougher and better able to withstand 2-5 degrees in storage. Increasing light intensity (if that is possible) during this final pre-harvest period may help also.

None of these suggestions is backed by empirical evidence. They are starting points for your own experiments.

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