Crop

Chicory is cultivated for its roots, a source of fructans used in food ingredient (27), for non-food purposes (19) for which worldwide markets are growing rapidly and for forcing the growth of chicons, a winter vegetable used in Northern Europe. Chicon production is estimated at 500,000 tons per year (28)

Jerusalem artichoke a close relative of the common sunflower, is a native of North America. A tuber yield of 46-60 t ha-1 has been reported (29) This crop has a good potential for production of fructose sugar (30) and as a feed stock for production of ethanol (31). The top growth is an excellent animal feed (32).

The seed to seed life cycle of chicory is biennial. During the first season chicory plant remains in the vegetative phase and makes only leaves and tap root. During first 10 weeks after emergence, the leaves and storage roots grow at similar rates. Thereafter, most of the assimilates are allocated to the tap roots. In the first year of its phenological cycle, chicory is a very efficient plant. Above grounds only leaves are formed and their production is stored in the tap roots. In comparison with chicory, the developmental cycle of jerusalem artichoke is very different. After emergence, a vegetative stem, leaves and often some side branches are formed. Until the reproductive phase jerusalem artichoke allocates most dry matter to the stem. Most of that is structural stem material, the remainder being temporarily stored carbohydrates. After flower initiation, the stem loses its sink activity and stem inulin is reallocated to tubers.

Chicory has a long history as a vegetable crop for production of chicons, the leafy heads forced in dark from the tap roots. In some countries the roots are processed and used as a coffee substitute or an additive to coffee. The breeding for the "Coffee-type" chicory has led to cultivars appropriate for inulin production, because the aims are similar large root yields with a high dry matter content.

Jerusalem artichoke is known as a crop with high production potential (33). Under the climatic conditions of Northern Europe, the potential yield from early cultivars was about 10 tons DM ha1 (34). The yield abilities of Jerusalem artichoke and chicory are equal or even surpass the productivity of sugar beet. In chicory inulin yield varies from 8 to 12.2 t ha1 comprising about 57 % of total dry matter and 74% of root on an average. The inulin yield of jerusalem artichoke varied from 4.0 to 6.7 t ha-1 this on an average comprising 28% of total dry matter and 71% of tuber (35).

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