1902 Encyclopedia > Agriculture > Chicory (for its Roots). Oil-Yielding Plants.

(Part 75)


Chicory (for its Roots). Oil-Yielding Plants.

Chicory (for its Roots)

The very extensive and constantly increasing consumption of the roots of chicory as a substitute for coffee, renders it now an agricultural crop of some importance. The soils best adapted for its growth are deep friable loams. The process of cultivation is vey similar to that required for the carrot, excepting only that it is not sown earlier than the first week of May, lest the plants should run to seed. When this happens, such plants must be thrown aside when the crop is dug, else the quality of the whole will be injured. About 4 lb of seed is the quantity to sow per acre, either broadcast or in rows. The latter is undoubtedly the best mode, as it admits of the land being kept clean, and yields roots of greater weight. The crop is ready for digging up in November. A long stout fork is the best implement for this purpose. In using it, care must be taken to get out the roots entire, not only for the sake of the roots, but to lessen an inconvenience attendant on the culture of his plant, namely, that the fragments left in the soil grow amongst the after crops, and are as troublesome as weeds. The roots, when dry, are carefully washed, cut in thin slices, and kiln-dried, when they are fit for the coffee-grinder. From 1 to 1 _ tons per acre of the dried root is an average produce.

Oil-Yielding Plants

Various plants are occasionally cultivated in Britain for the sake of the oil which is expressed from their ripened seeds. We have already noticed the value of flax-seed for this purpose, although the fibre is the product which is chiefly had in view in cultivating it. The plants most commonly son expressly as oil-yielding crops are -- rape(Brassica Napus), colza (Brassica campestris oleifera), gold of pleasure (Camelina sativa), and the poppy(papaver somniferum). Rape is the plant most frequently and extensively grown for the production of oil. The colza is said to yield better crops of seed than the other species. This plant is much cultivated in Flanders for this purpose. In Great Britain it seems rather on the decline. It is chiefly on rich alluvial soils that this crop is grown. For a seed-crop rape is sown in June or July, precisely in the manner already described for turnips. The young plants are thinned out to a width of 6 or 8 inches apart, and after wards kept clean by hoeing. The foliage may be eaten down by sheep early in autumn, without injuring it for the production of a crop of seed. In spring the horse and hand hoe must be used, and the previous application of 1 or 2 cwt. of guano will add to the productiveness of the crop. It suits well to lay down land to clover or grass after a crop of rape or turnip seed, and for this purpose the seeds are sown at the time of giving this spring culture. The crop must be reaped as soon as the seeds are observed to acquire a light brown colour. The reaping is managed precisely as we have described in the case of beans. As the crop, after being reaped and deposited in separate handfuls on the ground, very soon gets dry enough for thrashing, and as the seed is very easily shed after this is the case, this process must be performed as rapidly as possible. Sometimes it is conveyed to the thrashing-mill on harvest carts, on which a cloth is stretched to save the seeds knocked out in the loading and unloading, but more usually the flail is used on temporary thrashing-floors provided in the field by spreading down large cloths. The crop is gently lifted from the ground and placed, heads innermost, on a blanket which two persons grasp by the corners, and carry to the thrashing-floors. A large number of people are required to push this process through rapidly, for unless the crop is quickly handled, a great loss of seed ensues. The seed is immediately spread thinly upon a granary floor, and frequently turned until dry enough to keep in sacks, when it is cleaned and disposed of. On good soil and in favourable seasons the yield sometimes reaches to 40 bushels per acre. The haulm and husks are either used for litter or burned, and the ashes spread upon the land. It makes good fuel for clay-burning.

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