XXVIII International Horticultural Congress on Science and Horticulture for People (IHC2010): International Symposium on Quality-Chain Management of Fresh Vegetables: From Fork to Farm location:Lisbon date:22-27 August 2010
Witloof (Cichorium intybus L. var. foliosum Hegi) is a biennial plant. As a consequence the production of Belgian Endives (syn. chicory) comprises two phases. During the first vegetative phase, plants are grown in open field from spring till autumn. Only the roots are harvested and subsequently stored at low temperatures in order to induce vernalization. In the second generative phase, the apical meristem of the vernalized root is forced to regrow under dark conditions; this results in the formation of a ‘torpedo’ shaped, etiolated chicory head. Yield and quality of the chicory highly depends on the physiological status of the roots at the time of root harvest and forcing. Determination of the optimal root harvesting time is therefore critical. The current research focuses on the maturation of the chicory roots at the end of the field period. In this respect, root behaviour in forcing and chemical content of the roots at field harvest where linked. Therefore measurements of carbohydrate composition, soluble amino acids and chlorophyll content were executed bi-weekly and linked with physical and physiological characteristics of chicory plants in the field. The maturation process of roots in the field can be registered by determination of chemical elements. In addition we show that monitoring gradients in the root water and pressure potential also indicates physiological maturity of the roots.