General information

Yacon Growing - Planting Tips

In Russia, this culture is new, it is still very rare in the garden plots. Although, as experience shows, it can be successfully grown in the middle zone of our country.

Yacon is a distant relative of sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke. It comes from the Andes mountain regions of Central and South America, where it grows no higher than 1000-2800 m. The main distribution is in Peru, as well as in Argentina, Colombia, USA, Mexico, and, moreover, in Japan, Italy.

Useful properties of aacon

In recent years there has been a tendency to expand its range of distribution. This is primarily due to the unique properties of the aacon. It significantly reduces the sugar content in the blood after consuming sweets, as it contains the fructose polymer - inulin (up to 20%). After lying in the sun for several hours, it becomes very sweet - the content of safe and palatable glucose increases dramatically when exposed to sunlight. Thanks to this, the yacon can become an inexpensive, easy to use and even a pleasant remedy in the fight against the “scourge” of our time - diabetes.

Many yacone and selenium. It is a powerful antioxidant, it is often called the elixir of youth. It is able to prevent heart attacks, has a beneficial effect on the nervous system, allows in the elderly to maintain clarity of mind. Corneal his low-calorie and helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood. And the juice from the tubers is very refreshing in hot weather. Interestingly, during storage it also becomes sweeter.

Biography of aacon

The height of the plant itself can be from 1 to 2 meters. Stem rounded, green, in the upper part with anthocyanin spots. The leaves are dark green, large, with irregularly toothed edges, slightly pubescent. The whole aboveground part at the temperature of 0 ° С completely dies. Plants form large rhizomes on which underground fruits are formed. Their diameter reaches 10, length up to 40 cm, weight - up to 800-900 g.

Yacon is a perennial plant in its homeland, in Russia it is one-year old. It can grow in various conditions, it does not take much for the Iconu - it is unpretentious for the length of the day.

Reproduction

In general, the yacon can multiply by seeds, but in our conditions during the vegetative period (6-7 months) it does not have time to go into the generative stage of development.

The best way to cultivate this crop in central Russia is vegetative reproduction by dividing the rhizomes. In the autumn after digging out of the soil and the separation of tubers, rhizomes are washed, dried for several hours at room temperature. I store in the basement or refrigerator (+ 3-6 ° C). In February, I divide the rhizomes into several parts, then germinate at high humidity. When one or two sprouts are formed, I separate them by root and plant them in pots with a diameter of 14-16 cm. If there is little planting material, I propagate the Jacon by cuttings of stems with 1-2 pairs of leaves.

LANDING JACON

Soot in the ground in the 3rd decade of May. Yacon can be grown on a variety of soils, but for a good harvest, rich, fertilized soil is needed. To do this, I put in each pit 1 kg of humus, 1 cup of ash, 1 tbsp. l organic mineral fertilizer. Planting pits have the scheme 60 × 60 cm.

Caring for the yacon is the same as for ordinary seedlings, and does not pose any particular difficulties. Regular watering is necessary (on hot days - daily), as wide leaves give a large evaporation. Water should be warm. Every month I spend feeding with complex mineral fertilizer. Planted in the ground plants certainly cover the non-woven material to protect against possible return frost.

I did not have to detect pests and diseases in the aacon in our strip.

Its terms are largely dependent on weather conditions - you need to remove the yacon as late as possible, but before the first freeze, to prevent freezing of the rhizomes. This should be done very carefully, undermining the yakon with garden forks. Tubers are separated from rhizomes, washed and stored in the basement at a temperature of + 1-2 ° C.

When digging, the aacon tubers are almost tasteless, resemble savory carrots. But during storage, the taste qualities change: the tubers become sweet, refreshing, pleasant, getting melon-apple flavor.

In our country, the list of varieties of aacon is extremely limited. These are: Yudinka (first domestic), Bios (spindle shaped tubers), Sochi (oval and spindle shaped tubers).

Yacon breeding

In places where Yacon comes from, and this is the mountainous regions of the Andes, it multiplies by kidneys, which are formed on the rhizome, by seeds, by grafting. However, in our regions, often there is no formation of flowers and, accordingly, seeds, therefore the only way to propagate this plant is to obtain seedlings from the buds of rhizomes. It should be remembered that as a potato, tubers, yacon can not be propagated.

In temperate climates of the middle zone, rhizomes are planted for germination in the month of February, having previously been disinfected so that the fungus does not develop on the roots.

To bookmark the germination, the plant is cut into several pieces carefully so as not to damage the kidneys. Place filter paper or moisture-absorbing cloth on the bottom of the germination tank and place the prepared tubers there. Cover with a film or glass on top, ventilate periodically, and moisten the litter from time to time.

Two weeks after laying, shoots appear from the buds on the rhizomes. When they reach a height of 1-2 cm, they can be planted in pots with soil mixture. To prepare this mixture, you will need 2 parts of peat for 1 part of sod land and add a complex fertilizer of your choice.

Transplanting

It is possible to plant seedlings in the ground after the threat of the last frost has passed, approximately mid-May. Up to this point, prepare the soil where the yacon will grow - deeply plow through and feed with organic fertilizers. To accelerate the growth of the plant during the growing season, you can make another comprehensive feeding about 1 tbsp. potash fertilizer and superphosphate per 1 m2.

Landing in open ground

Planted in open ground, the yacon reaches a height of 1.5 meters. Under each plant develops up to 25 tubers. Up to three kilograms of root tubers are usually obtained from one plant. Harvesting is carried out in October, before the onset of the first frost. It is necessary to dig the plant with care to avoid damage to the roots. The stems are removed, if possible fed to cattle. Store tubers in basements, as well as other root crops, separately in boxes or containers. Tubers can be stored for up to 10 months without losing their properties and maintaining a good appearance. After harvesting, the tubers are usually tasteless, but during storage they gain sweetness. This is due to the transition of fructants into fructose, which makes the yacon sweet, resembling melon in taste.

Plant Care

Caring for an iacon is quite simple, although it requires almost daily watering, as its massive leaves evaporate a lot of moisture.

Eat the roots of yakon, they are usually eaten raw, adding to various salads or just crunch. Some stew, fry or boil also young shoots of aacon. In the natural regions of this plant, a refreshing drink is prepared from it, squeezing the juice from the rubbed tubers.

Medical Use

The Jacon has proven itself very well as an effective product in the fight against diabetes, obesity, and atherosclerosis. Regular consumption of yakon in food reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood, regulates the work of the intestine. This plant contains protein and most amino acids, which equates it to the ideal protein. And the vitamin C contained in the plant, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin make this plant truly priceless. Yacon is also able to accumulate the so-called "elixir of youth" - trace element selenium. Thanks to him, the yacon is able to prevent heart attacks, has a positive effect on the nervous system, helps to maintain clarity of mind in old age.

Yacon - a plant growing in blocks

It is usually grown from pieces of rhizome. Like most root and tuber crops of the Andes, the yacon rarely produces real seeds, but one rhizome is enough to plant from 1 to 60 new ones, depending on how well they are developed and how many pieces you can divide them.

Root crops of different varieties differ in peel color, tuber color and sweetness. The peel varies from almost white to purple. The color of the tuber is white, but it can be partially or completely light purple or light orange in North American varieties. There are varieties in the Andes with pink and yellow tuber. The colors are more saturated in fully mature tubers and after exposure to sunlight. Sweetness ranges from celery flavor to apples and increases even more after storage under sunlight.

Growth conditions have a strong influence on the shape of the roots. They can be in the form of a lemon, pear, spherical or cylindrical shape. Varieties of pear-shaped and spherical roots easier to collect in coarse soil without destruction.

Plants differ in height, stem color and leaf shape. In some varieties, the stems are red, in others - green, and there are combinations of these two colors. Some varieties are high, reaching 2 m, others short up to 1.2 m. Crop is better for high varieties. The difference in yield between medium and high bush from 10 to 20%.

There are many options for breeding this plant. But a typical gardener is unlikely to see a big difference in the cultivation of different varieties, because the harvest is almost the same. If you live in a windy place, then it is better to grow short varieties, if there is no wind, then you can try high varieties, in this case the output will be greater.

The native region for this plant is the Andes Mountains. Yacon still grows wild in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, although the difference is hard to distinguish between wild and cultivated plants. There is evidence of the ancient use of the Yacon in the Andes by the Incas, so people have known this tuber for quite some time. It is possible that the existing varieties were originally taken and propagated from the wild.

Previously, the Incas grew the Yacon on a large scale. It was used by travelers as a source of water, which is not surprising, given the high water content. The root crop was one of the plants grown in gardens, adding variety to the diet, but was not the staple food because of its low calorie content. It is not surprising, but even now in agriculture it is not too much wanted to be grown on a large scale.

After the Spanish conquest of the Incas, the cultivation of the Yacon was greatly reduced. Many varieties were lost, and the remaining Yacon genetic diversity yielded low yields. Yacon was once a fairly well-known vegetable in the north of Argentina, it was grown even on the streets in cities, but cultivation almost completely disappeared by the end of the 20th century.

There were also attempts to take the Yacon beyond the Andes. An early experiment in growing a tuber in Italy was successful, but stopped with the start of World War II. One variety was brought from Ecuador to New Zealand in 1979. In the 1980s and 1990s, the yacon was grown in Japan, Brazil, South Korea and the Czech Republic. Since then, it has spread throughout the world and now it is grown on a small scale in many countries in Europe and North America.

Growing a tuber in Japan

Vegetable in our time is quite popular in Japan and most of the published work on its cultivation is available only in Japanese magazines. Its varieties have spread from Japan to Korea, China, and possibly Southeast Asia. There are active yacon breeding programs using laboratory methods such as mutagenesis and traditional breeding of varieties.

The introduction of the Yacon to Japan has become an example of the problems associated with intellectual property in the field of plant breeding. Peru gave several varieties of vegetable to researchers in Japan, who then produced new varieties, received breeder rights for new varieties and refused to share them with Peru. Since then, many Andean countries have refused to spread most of their native cultures outside of South America. 4 new varieties were introduced in Japan: “Sarada otome” in 2000, “Andesu no yuki” and “Salad okame” in 2003 and “Andesu no otome” in 2012.

Nutritional value

Yacon is a low-calorie vegetable that contains water in large quantities and fructo-oligosaccharides are difficult to digest large sugar molecules that stimulate the functioning of the large intestine. Freshly picked tubers have only 15 calories per 100 g. After several weeks of storage, the amount of calories increases slightly. After some of the hard-to-digest sugars are converted to fructose, the caloric content will be about 22 calories per 100 g.

Vegetable is not particularly rich in vitamins and minerals, perhaps because it contains a lot of water, but is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium from 180 to 290 mg per 100 g serving. This juicy vegetable is slowly digested, which means it is perfect for those who watch their figure.

The effect of yacon on the body

The presence of fructooligosaccharides in the composition of the vegetable is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is that they are prebiotics that normalize intestinal function and improve immune resistance. The disadvantage is that they are hard to digest and can lead to some discomfort in the intestines.

A similar situation is observed with the infamous Jerusalem artichoke, which is well known as “carbonated vegetable”. Jerusalem artichoke contains inulin - a polysaccharide with a high degree of polymerization. In humans, it is very difficult to digest. Yacon molecules have a lower degree of polymerization, but they are still difficult to digest, although they require less fermentation by bacteria in the intestine before they are completely broken. Therefore, the formation of gas from the Yacon is less than from the Jerusalem artichoke.

In large doses, the yacon has a laxative effect, although rather from regular use. You can read on the Internet that a vegetable is a good choice for diabetics. Perhaps, because inulin is absorbed by the body minimally, and the rest takes the form of dietary fiber. But there are doubts about this. After 1 month of storage, the proportion of fructose, glucose and sucrose in the tuber increases significantly, from which it improves its taste.

One study showed that in yacon fructose accounts for almost 22% of dry matter, and glucose - 5%, and another experiment indicates that the content of fructose in the tuber is higher than all fructooligosaccharides combined.

Therefore, be careful when eating large portions. We do not want to say that this is unhealthy food, but we need to adequately evaluate everything that is said in the advertisement. Tubers sweeten not only during storage, but also when exposed to sunlight in just one week. The content of fructooligosaccharides decreases from 10 to 40%, and fructose, glucose, and sometimes sucrose increases.

Cooking food

Tuber is prepared in the world famous yacon syrup. After digestion, excess water and sugar concentrations are removed, and heat converts most of these sugars into fructose. There is another high fructose syrup, which is usually not perceived as a healthy product - corn syrup. Is yacon syrup the best? Remember that only in a fresh tuber inulin is present, which is not completely absorbed, and in syrup there is already fructose. In addition, the processing of vegetables in syrup - only a way to save part of the crop.

Some sources claim that you can eat leaves and make tea from them. But for people with kidney problems, the leaves are toxic. Although studies have not revealed any negative effects at acceptable concentrations used in tea, we recommend that you do not eat leaves or limit consumption until the issue is resolved. Rhizomes edible. Their bitter rind is difficult to remove because of the convolutions, so almost no one eats rhizomes. They are used as animal feed.

For all the time, only one case of an anaphylactic reaction to the use of the yacon has been documented. Chances to choke on a piece or cut your fingers during cleaning are undoubtedly much higher.

The fruit is often eaten raw, after removing the peel. It can be cooked, although even after long cooking, the vegetable remains relatively hard. The fruit is boiled like potatoes, cooked stews, soups, curries, pancakes, chips, fried with meat, added to bakery products. Even a pickle is cooked with aacon.

Climate suitable for growth

Yakon - a plant of the average heights of the Andes, it is grown between 2000 and 3300 m above sea level. It is suitable for the Yungas sea climate zone, where the climate is warmer and more humid at higher elevations with a year-round average temperature of about 21º C.

Культура довольно легкая и не прихотливая, любит много воды, ее не смущает похолодание, выращивают в любом месте с морозостойким сезоном не менее 7 месяцев. Тем не менее, этот Андский урожай любит тепло. Растение нуждается в защите от сильных ветров, которые могут покромсать его листья. При длительной морозостойкой осени ожидаются самые крупные клубни. Якон хорошо растет как на Гавайях, так и в более теплых регионах Аляски, если дать ему время на адаптацию.

The optimum temperature for growth is approximately 18 to 25 ° C, but the plant can withstand a temperature of 40 ° C while water is available. Dry conditions and wind reduce the maximum temperature that a yacon can withstand. In areas with favorable weather conditions, as in parts of Northern Canada and Alaska, the plant grows twice its height.

Soil requirements

Yacon is a large consumer of potassium and potassium-rich fertilizers. Organic sources of potassium, for example, algae and wood ash. The plant has moderate nitrogen requirements; it’s best to make sure that the soil is rich in organic matter. Too much nitrogen reduces root growth. Phosphorus requirements are quite low. Yacon maintains a wide range of soil pH, but low-acid soil from 6.0 to 6.5 is more suitable.

How are yacon grown?

The plant is grown from rhizomes or seeds, but seeds are a rarity. Little is known about the proper storage conditions for such seeds.

Rhizomes are not frost-resistant, so it’s safest to keep them indoors until the last frost subsides, although they are kept in a slightly cool room before planting.

If you buy bare rhizomes, then check their condition. Hard and not germinated rhizomes immediate care is not required. Often during transport, they become slightly elastic and germinate. Then soak them in room temperature water for 8 hours and place in a pot with any soil without adding fertilizer. Keep them below 10º C. For the month before planting, warm and give a little light. In warm climates, rhizomes will germinate themselves without warming. They are transplanted after the last frost.

Beneficial features

Yacon has the following beneficial properties:

  • normalizes sugar level. It contains a large amount of inulin, which replaces sugar with itself,
  • struggling with excess weight. It is low-calorie and contains substances that have a good effect on metabolism. For a long time quenches hunger,
  • removes excess fluid. A large amount of potassium provides a diuretic effect.
  • is an antioxidant. It contains bioactive substances that slow down aging,
  • reduces the amount of cholesterol in the blood. It has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system,
  • improves intestinal function, helps with constipation. It contains many fibers that stimulate the gastrointestinal tract, as well as a prebiotic that activates the growth of beneficial microflora.
All of the above properties improve metabolic processes in the human body, and this vegetable is recommended for diabetics and people suffering from obesity.

Contraindications and harm

There are no special contraindications to this vegetable, except for individual intolerance, which is rare.

However, when consuming yacon in large quantities, the following symptoms may occur:

  • weak stools, diarrhea,
  • frequent urination,
  • flatulence,
  • poor appetite
  • allergic rhinitis, which is characterized by sneezing and irritation of the mucous eyes.

It should be noted that in our places this vegetable and its effect on humans, including side effects, are little studied.

Breeding

This is a perennial plant, but we have it planted annually. Yacon can be propagated in several ways:

  • seeds. So it is often propagated at home - in South America. But for our latitudes such a method is impossible, because here it does not have time to bloom and give seeds,
  • rhizomes. This is the most common method used everywhere. To this end, in early February, the yakon rhizomes are taken from the basement, where they were stored, washed in a weak solution of potassium permanganate. Then they are cut so that one or two buds remain on each piece, dusting the incision site with ashes. Planted in a container of about a liter diameter of 30 cm in the ground, consisting of sod land and peat in a ratio of 1 to 2, watered and covered with a film until germs. Feed sprouts every ten days with complex fertilizers,
  • green cuttings. For grafting take areas of the stem with two leaves and placed in a nutrient substrate. Around create a greenhouse effect, covering the glass container and moisturizing. After the appearance of the roots, this capacity is removed, and the cuttings are transferred to greenhouse conditions, where they are kept at a temperature of + 20 ° C and a light day at about 16 hours before planting into the ground.

Planted seedlings in the ground need only after the end of frost. The root system of the aacon can tolerate slight frosts, but the upper part will die in this case.

Landing is best done from the end of May to the tenth of June. Put on a depth of about ten centimeters. Yacon grows on any soil, the main thing is to fertilize it well. Therefore, before planting, the soil should be loosened, and further it is recommended to make top dressing from manure with mineral additives. To this end, one-third of a spoonful of superphosphate and potassium is added to a third of the bucket of manure.

Yacon seedlings are planted at a distance of about 70 cm from each other. Immediately after planting, perform good watering. As it grows, this crop starts its roots deep in the ground, so it can endure drought, though not long. But during planting and rooting the plants need more thorough watering. In dry weather, the Yacon is watered daily, and with the onset of autumn the frequency is reduced. Watering is desirable to carry warm water.

Yacon, like many plants, needs feeding - it increases its yield and accelerates growth. For this purpose, once a month produce complex nutrition with mineral fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are applied to the soil during planting: this can be bird droppings, cow dung. During the loosening of the soil is not superfluous to enrich it with nitrate. It should be noted that this culture is very much in need of potassium, and less in phosphorus and nitrogen.

The soil on the plot on which the yacon is planted, it is necessary to periodically loosen and weed. You can spend the mulching of the soil. The shrubs of this plant usually spud like potatoes. If necessary, and especially if the area is very windy, you can make a garter of this plant.

The yacon can be affected by pests such as whitefly, aphid, spider mite, caterpillar, Khrushchevand other insects. In addition, it may be subject to fungal diseases.

This culture does not require transplantation and can grow for a long time in the same area. It is better to move this plant from one place to another in the spring.

Collection and storage

To get a good harvest, the age of the plant should be 5-7 months. Harvesting Yacon produce in the fall shortly before the first frosts. It is necessary to dig up its tubers carefully, as they are rather fragile.

Tubers are harvested separately for food consumption, and the roots for later reproduction are laid for wintering. For this purpose, the rhizome is cut so that there are available buds and a stem about 2-3 centimeters in size. The roots are dried in a dry dark room for about two weeks, and then placed in wooden boxes and poured over with earth. Store in the basement at a temperature of + 4 ° C. Under such conditions, the roots can be stored almost until the next harvest.

Video: Yacon Collect

Lovers of Jerusalem artichoke will certainly be interested in this rare vegetable for us. It has the same beneficial properties, but can still be stored for a long time and has an interesting and pleasant taste. It is most useful to put it in salads, but you can cook many other dishes with his participation. Yacon improves metabolism and is a useful component in the menu of diabetics.

Planting a plant

Yacon are germinated in pots before planting outside. It grows slowly in cold soil. You can put the pots on the windowsill 2 months before the last frost. Plants should be about 15 cm tall with three or four sets of leaves, which by then will be stronger and ready for transplantation.

Yacon loves water and soil rich in organic matter. The plant does not object to high temperatures as long as there is water. Yacon poorly cope with the wind, so it is planted in a sheltered place, or among other tall plants that will protect him.

The best planting depth of rhizomes of Yacon is 10 cm. Dig a hole or trench of this depth, place a piece of rhizome in the lower part, cut side down, and the kidneys to the top. The roots form at the base of each bud, not at the bottom of the cut, so do not allow the kidneys to protrude from the soil.

76 cm is left between the rows, it no longer makes sense, then the earth is used irrationally. In Korea, scientists found that the tallest plants and large tubers will be when growing plants at a distance of 32 x 24 inches (80 x 60 cm).

As they grow, the roots may protrude from the soil, especially if the soil is spuded before planting. In windy areas for tall plants, colas are clogged to prevent them from falling.

Yacon is a perennial plant, and in our climate it is grown as an annual, because it is very difficult to gather a root crop without pulling the plant itself out of the ground. As a perennial plant is grown in a climate where the soil does not freeze more than 5 cm deep. The upper part of the plant dies due to natural aging, even in the climate protected from frost, but the plant grows back in warm weather. In the second and third year, the harvest is greater than in the first.

Harvest

In the Andes, Yacon tubers ripen in 6-7 months. In the Pacific Northwest of America, it takes a little longer. A common misconception is that the best time to harvest after flowering is that the most common early white variety in North America enters the aging phase soon after flowering. Tubers reach their maximum size at the beginning of flowering. There are other varieties with large flowering periods, their tubers continue to grow for several months after the start of flowering.

For harvesting, Yacon tubers must stay at least 5 months in the ground, although they continue to grow until the plant enters the aging phase, so you can safely add another two to three months from the start of flowering. Tubers must be dug before November to the appearance of the first frost. Harvesting in October is the most optimal if the plant is at least 5 months old.

It is impossible to dig a yacon without destroying the roots of a plant. Usually, a shovel is placed at a distance of 45 cm from the trunk at an angle of 30 degrees, undermined and pulled upwards by the stems. In doing so, you tear some roots with both a shovel and hands. It will be easier for you to dig with a partner who, for example, will pull out and you will dig, or vice versa.

After the root ball has been removed from the ground, large tubers are harvested for storage, and small ones attached to the rhizome are left. The harvested crop is sprayed with clean water from a hose and left to dry on the field. In rainy weather, dried under a tarp.

Yacon is not recommended to cook in the first month after harvest, because many people may find its taste insipid. Only in 1 month the content of fructose in tubers will increase and the taste will be sweeter. If you want to speed up the process, then put the tubers in the sunlight.

How to store rhizomes and tubers?

Rhizomes are best kept intact along with several small tubers. The stalks are cut, leaving about 5 cm. The roots are shaken off the dirt, sprayed with water and left to dry in the sun. Rhizomes can not be left for storage if they are wet. If the weather is not favorable, the rhizomes are dried under the fan indoors. The most favorable temperature for storage is 3º С and 95% humidity.

The tubers are stored at a temperature of 10 º C for about three to four months, and at 2 º C for a year. Broken and damaged fruits should not be stored, but used immediately. A cropped tuber is stored for only a few weeks.

The most common ways to preserve yacon crops are to prepare syrup and freeze tubers. After freezing, the fruits become slightly brown and soft, but not so useful.

Some information about seeds

For a good harvest, there should be at least two varieties of yakon to cover during the flowering period. Some varieties bloom very late, which is useful for seed production in areas with a long growing season. Flowering begins in the range from 149 to 264 days, an average of 200 days.

Yacon flowers always produce a full set of seeds. Even in the absence of pollination, empty seeds are formed. The easiest way to determine viability is to break a seed by squeezing with your fingertips. Viable seeds are hard to break, they have a coarse thick skin, and the color is brown, closer to black. Another way to check is to soak in a glass of water for 24 hours. Seeds that drown, suitable for reproduction.

Few insects seem to be interested in yacon flowers, so sometimes pollination occurs manually. Simply collect the pollen with a small brush and lay it on the stigma around the outer flower head. They are located at the base of the tongue - yellow "petals" of the flower head. The main trick is finding pollen.

Weather is a major factor in seed germination. Seeds are usually harvested in November, when the plant continues to bloom profusely. At this time, pollen is less mobile at low temperatures, higher air humidity and, as a rule, fewer pollinating insects fly in cool rainy weather. To keep the seeds in a climate with cool and rainy autumn weather, the plants should be indoors, and in February or March they are transplanted when the temperature reaches 16º C in the hope that flowering will begin in August and September.

For full ripening of seeds, it is necessary 3 - 4 weeks from the moment of opening the flower head or about 2 weeks if the flower no longer has live inflorescences. Approximately 98 yacon seeds for mixed varieties per gram. The number of seeds in individual varieties can vary from +/- 30 seeds per gram.

Diseases and pests

Yakon foliage is attractive to many pests, including slugs, caterpillars, waterfowl, rabbits and deer. The presence of insects is evident from the numerous holes they make in the leaves. Field mice (voles) can become a significant problem at the end of the season, they dig and eat rhizomes, but it seems that rarely damage the roots for storage.

Yacon is exposed to a fairly wide range of common diseases, such as the cucumber mosaic virus, Puspacillus bacillus, Hervias, and some fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew.

As a rule, bacterial and fungal diseases are not a big problem, but cucumber mosaic can threaten the crop. Infected plants are best destroyed immediately. It is advisable to keep the Yacon from closely related crops like sunflowers and Jerusalem artichoke, which serve as a reservoir for common diseases.

Development of new varieties

Yacon does not have any particularly serious cultivation problems in North America. The plant is quite tolerant to heat, has a high yield, resistant to family diseases of sunflower. But it is necessary to improve.

Increased frost resistance will lead to increased yields in areas with a short growing season. Short varieties with thick branches are resistant to the wind, and high varieties are served. A large variety of skin color contributes to its appeal in the product market. Early flowering and an improved seed set will facilitate further breeding. It is necessary to reduce the high fructose content and increase the shelf life of tubers. Small tubers are less likely to crack during harvest.

The plant has close relatives suitable for hybridization. Crossing with wild relatives is especially valuable. Genetic analysis of the addition of the Yacon showed a low degree of variability between varieties. Yacon hybrids with Smallanthus riparius have already been bred. Smallanthus macroscyphus and S. connatus are promising for hybridization. Perhaps the genus Polymnia, suitable for breeding other varieties.

Yacon Growing

The homeland of the Yakon (a distant relative of sunflower, Jerusalem artichoke) is the highland regions of the Andes of Central and South America. Yakon plant is beautiful, compact, with an annual culture it has a height of up to 1.2 m, with a perennial - up to 2 m. Its stem is green, with purple spots in the upper part. The leaves are large, with unevenly serrated edges. On the upper side they are dark green, on the lower side they are lighter. On large veins and petioles there is a dense and hard pubescence. The entire aboveground part of the plant may die at a temperature of zero degrees. The underground organs of the yacon form two types - rhizomes and root tubers. Large rhizomes reach masses of up to 400-600 g. They contain buds that give rise to new plants. Numerous thin roots depart from the rhizomes, which, as they grow, thicken, acquiring a pear-shaped or spindle-shaped form. Tubers are grouped into compact bundles of several pieces. In Russia, yacon is recommended to grow in open ground in the southern regions, and in the north it is desirable to grow it in protected ground.

Yacon, a general view of the plant. © Michael Hermann

Yacon cannot be propagated by root tubers, they do not have such buds as on potato tubers. При выращивании в средней полосе России на яконе не образуется ни цветков, ни семян, поэтому реальный способ размножения этого растения в этой полосе – получение рассады из почек, образующихся на корневищах, которые лучше всего закладывать на проращивание в феврале.

Перед этим их рекомендуют продезинфицировать, например, в течение 5-ти минут в растворе марганцовки, чтобы не развивалась грибная микрофлора. Затем корневище разрезают на несколько частей, стараясь не повредить почки, и укладывают в плоские емкости, дно которых следует выложить влагоемкой тканью или фильтровальной бумагой. Top container covered with plastic wrap or glass. From time to time, containers should be ventilated and the fabric or paper moistened. Fragments of a rhizome with sprouts appearing after about 2 weeks on them are best transplanted into pots with a feeding mixture. It may consist, for example, of one part of turf land, two parts of peat, and a small amount of complex fertilizer. After only 8 weeks, the plants will be ready for planting in open ground, but they should be planted not earlier than the end of the period of possible return of frost (after June 6-8).

The soil in the bed for aacon should be deeply burnt. Yacon can be grown on various soils, however, to get high yields of succulent and at the same time fragile root tubers, a rich, well-fertilized, loose soil is needed. When digging a plot under the yacon from the fall (on the spade bayonet), it is recommended to add fertilizer (per square meter) on the way: 1/3 buckets of rotted manure, 1 tbsp. superphosphate and 1 tbsp. potash fertilizer. With spring loosening, the soil is enriched with ammonium nitrate.

Yacon, view of cultivated plants. © Rob Hille

Yacon seedlings are planted according to the scheme 60x60 cm, of course, followed by watering. It is important to bear in mind that when plants are thickened, the yield decreases markedly. Optimum temperature: +18 ° C ... + 30 ° C. Rhizomes are able to withstand short-term small frosts, but the aboveground part dies. The root system penetrates deep into the ground, so the plant can withstand a short drought. It is clear that special attention is paid to irrigation during planting and rooting of seedlings. The lack of moisture reduces the yield, but at the same time there should not be excessive moisture. Watering is carried out only with warm water. If the weather is hot, the plants are watered daily. During the growing season, plants are also recommended to feed, for example, Kemira station wagon at the rate of 5 g of fertilizer per 1 square meter.

Yacon in open ground reaches a height of 1.0-1.2 m. Each plant develops up to 25 root tubers. The total mass of root tubers on a single plant of the Russian variety Bios reaches 3 kg. Many gardeners believe that when cultivating yakon for medicinal purposes, preference should be given to foreign varieties, which, they believe, are richer in their useful elements (that is, they are closer to their original ancestors).

Harvesting should be carried out in early September, before the onset of frost. If the weather permits, then you can clean in late September - early October. The yield of root tubers can increase by 30-50%. Rhizomes and root tubers are stored separately in boxes or small containers in high-moisture cellars. Tubers are stored 8-10 months. Without losing turgor. As already noted, the fleshy yacon root tubers are rather tasteless when harvested, but during storage they acquire a typical sweet taste. This is due to the fact that in the process of growth in root crops fructants accumulate, less sweet in taste than fructose. When the yakon root tubers are placed in storage, they begin the process of depolymerizing fructants to fructose, which gives the tubers a sweet taste that resembles the taste of pears or melons, and the process goes faster at higher temperatures.

Yacon tuber, whole, sectional, and peeled. © NusHub

P.S. Many enthusiasts, craftsmen, imbued with respect for this new for the Russian vegetable because of its useful properties and good productivity. They are increasingly beginning to grow Yacon in their gardens instead of Jerusalem artichoke. The fact is that Jerusalem artichoke has long been actively used by them in salads. Especially in the spring, when it is used as a preventive measure against diabetes. It is understandable: people at this time, and even after winter, move a little, physical loads on the body are insignificant. So you have to defend against high sugar content. And the Jerusalem artichoke is always at hand: he dug a shovel and here they are fresh tubers, well wintered under the snow. And this plant almost does not require any care, it grows for itself and grows, multiplying from the tubers remaining in the ground. Only here is the trouble with tubers too much, when they have to be peeled before use, because of the numerous growths on them. Another thing is the aacon tubers - smooth and rather large.

There is an opinion that the yacon is a vegetable of the 21st century, it is ranked almost as not a strategic product of the future, and this cannot but add sympathy to the Jacon. However, those who have decided to start growing it need to take care of the seedlings right now so that the seedlings can grow by the beginning of June. It is not difficult to do this, you just have to find the appropriate store near your place of residence. And sellers for the delivery of yacon seedlings this year, judging by the advertising on the Internet, are ready. Dare, my friends, and success to you!