basil types

mbrown297(6b)October 29, 2004

I plan on expanding my basil production this year but I am not sure which variety to grow. Its between Genovese or Italian large leaf. Which one is the better variety for pesto, should I be offering two varieties or pesto basil, and does it really matter to most people?

Thanks for the wisdom of your experience.


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stan_gardener(cen ca)

i vote italian large leaf.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2004 at 9:24AM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Genovese, I grow 100# a week. Large leaf is good but the flavor is not as intense. I recommend that you get your seeds from Johnnies Selected Seeds.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2004 at 10:45AM
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I second Genovese.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2004 at 3:46PM
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jayreynolds(zone 6/7)

I've recently run across a new(to me, anyways), supplier of basil varieties. These people seem to have excellent sources for genuine Italian-grown seeds, including basil.

I encourage anyone to check out their unusual varieties of vegetable seeds, and feedback from anyone who has dealt with these people(I haven't-yet). They come from a CSA background and seem willing to cater to market gardeners.

While we're on the subject. This year, for the first time, I experienced a starnge mottled yellow appearance on about 10% of my 30 basil plants which I grew from storebought seeds of Italian Large Leaf. On some plants, scattered in different locations, either a whole or merely part of the plant became discolored with a mottled green/yellow color. This didn't kill any of the plants, but made the foliage unsalable. Anybody else? I'm thinking a virus disease, maybe.

Here is a link that might be useful: Harvest Moon Farms

    Bookmark   October 30, 2004 at 8:36PM
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What about the idea of offering both Genovese and Italian large leaf? I just don't know if the chefs know the difference and if they do, will I be stuck with one variety because nobody wants it.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2004 at 5:11AM
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Sue_in_Colorado(about 5)

I'd vote Genovese anyday.

Jay - I know EXACTLY what you're talking about w/ the mottled basil. I'vre had it show up for 2 yrs. now. I'd guess that 40% of my plants had it. Both in the greenhouse & field. I think it looks viral too. I kept meaning to send some into the disease lab here, just never seemed to find the time. I also think it seems worse on the Genovese than the large leaf italian. Very frustrating. I've spent hours on the net, trying to find information, but it's either not there or I'm not finding it.

Anyone else...Adrianna?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2004 at 10:46AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

My basils had some mottling too. I can't say the percentages, but it was not on all the plant/leaves for the plants that had it. I can't even say what variety or supplier, as I had "help" when I was planting and so can't say for sure which seedling went where. (I think she'll be old enough next summer that I can be more exacting!) I pulled the plants and trashed them.

Mike, can you ask the chefs in question which they would prefer, or are these future sales, not present buyers? And do you think they would really know the difference? The other thought I had was to grow both, as sometimes the chefs want large leaves for show/garnish (basil, mozzarella and tomato layers), and sometimes very flavorfull leaves for taste (pesto).

    Bookmark   October 31, 2004 at 3:29PM
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jayreynolds(zone 6/7)

did some checking around. If I were to describe the symptoms
technically, I would say "chlorotic blotches". In my case, sometimes only certain branches had the symptoms, while the rest of the plant remained green/normal.
See the link below, looks like basil has more than it's share of possible viral susceptibilities.

I once met a Canadian grower who did 100's of lbs/week in a greenhouse. probably this disease is known, I plan to rotate basil into a new ground next year.

Here is a link that might be useful: viral diseases of Ocimum Basilicum

    Bookmark   November 1, 2004 at 6:55AM
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adrianag(AL z7)

I'm not familiar with that particular mottling. I recommend that you take some leaves in to your agricultural extension service. They can send it on to their labs if they need to.

Back to the type of variety and chef's preferences...they will take your word for it if you tell them that in your opinion Variety X is the best basil for pesto. If you really want to, you can grow enough Large Leaf Basil to provide a couple of pounds a week for those chefs who want it for a wrap. I like the Napoletano variety, as it has the most flavor. I get it from

If it helps you at all, Carrabba's Restaurants specifies Genovese as their basil and they use 60# a week per restaurant. (Forget trying to get their business, it's under a national contract and the chefs aren't allowed to opt out).

    Bookmark   November 1, 2004 at 7:42AM
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