The artichoke is a highly appreciated vegetable, as its leaves hide a large amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Even low-calorie diets carry its name. Furthermore, its different varieties, characteristics and chemical composition make it a unique vegetable for the prevention of diseases such as diabetes, and for the regulation of the body and protection against liver diseases.
It is in the Mediterranean basin, in countries such as Italy, France and Spain, where 90% of the world’s artichoke production is produced, but also in numerous temperate countries around the world. This area is ideal for growing artichokes, as the climate is mild and temperate.
Origins of artichoke cultivation
The artichoke comes from North East Africa and seems to have been known to the Greek and Roman civilisations already, and it was during the Middle Ages that it was introduced to the Mediterranean area.
Do you know where the origin of its name comes from?
Its origin is found in a Greek myth that explains that there was a maiden called Cynara, with whom Zeus fell in love, who decided to turn her into a goddess and take her to Mount Olympus. But Cynara missed her family and returned to the earth to visit her home, then Zeus, enraged and disappointed, turned her into the first artichoke, hence it is believed that her scientific name Cynara scolymus comes from.
The artichoke has various varieties according to its geographical designation, the most common being the Spanish, French and Italian varieties.
Varieties from Spain
- Blanca de Tudela. It is the most cultivated variety in Spain. It is grown in La Rioja, Murcia, Alicante and especially in Tudela (Navarra), considered a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), and in Bernicarló (Castellón), where it enjoys the Designation of Origin (D.O.). This artichoke is characterised by its non-bright green colour, elongated oval shape and very compact, with its very tight green scales. Its production is higher during spring in cold areas.
Varieties from France
- Violet of Provence. Small variety, conical in shape, with large flower heads and green leaves stained with violet tones. It has an early cycle, is very productive and its cultivation requires deep soils exposed to the sun. It can be eaten raw, cured or cooked.
- Camus de Bretagne. The largest variety (its fruits can be around 300-500 grams per unit), it has a rounded shape with wide and short leaves. Its chapter is green and often shows a purple colour at the tips. Its highest production point is in the summer season.
- Laon green. Artichoke from the region of France very well adapted to the cold. More robust than the previous variety, rustic, with very large heads, thick bottoms and very fleshy bracts.
Varieties from Italy
- Thorny. It owes its name to the thorny shape of its leaves. In Italy it is considered the best variety to eat raw, as it is fleshy and crunchy.
- Romanesque. It has a rounded shape, a very intense violet colour, it is very tender and has a very sweet taste. It is a plant of medium vigour with large-sized fruits, whose production is mainly in spring.
- French. Very similar to the French variety “Violet de Provence”. Its production is the most widespread in southern Italy.
- Catanese. Very similar to the previous one, it differs in that it is much more open and adapts better to warmer areas. Its main use is industrial processing.
Main soil and climate requirements
Artichokes require mild and temperate climates, without intense cold or excessive heat. It is a winter vegetable (cold season) that with daytime temperatures of 24ºC and nighttime temperatures of 13º C, grows at its best. A suitable temperature range for a good harvest would be between 7-29º C, but free of frost.
Artichokes are plants which, depending on the variety, reach between 50 cm and 2 metres in height. They have a strong and deep root system capable of adapting to a multitude of soils, although preferably those which are deep, sandy, fertile and well-drained. A good bottom fertilization is necessary either with manure or compost and a mature compost in the production phase.
Irrigation of artichoke crops
The crop requires frequent watering to provide sufficient moisture to achieve good rooting during its growth period, and it is when it reaches maturity that it demands continuous watering. An excess of water can lead to waterlogging of the roots, so it is important to control the water needs of the plant according to temperature, rainfall, soil texture and the variety of artichoke.
Drip irrigation allows us to control watering by adjusting the water requirements to the stage of the artichoke crop.It is interesting to note that various studies have shown that working at 60% of the crop’s water needs allows us to increase the yield of dry matter harvested by 45%.
On the other hand, in order to adjust irrigation to the water needs of the crop, the use of soil moisture sensors is recommended to determine the right time to irrigate.
Why is drip irrigation the best irrigation system in artichoke cultivation?
It is the most common irrigation system in the Mediterranean regions, with irrigation volumes of 5,000 to 6,000 m3 per hectare per year in winter. Now we present you the advantages of this irrigation system:
- It allows greater water savings, as it supplies each plant with only the amount of water it needs. It has also been proven that it benefits the development of the plant.
- There is no waterlogging of the plant. In this way, the appearance of rot and the proliferation of fungi are prevented. In addition, the loss of nutrients, which is common in excessive watering, is avoided.
- It favours the formation of a pivoting root, that is, one that is elongated and downwards. In this way, the plant has easy access to water and nutrient reserves. Pivoting roots absorb and reserve water better.
- It works with low pressure, so no pump is needed to drive the water. Maintenance is simple and cheap.
- It helps to reduce the presence of weeds, as the surface is hardly wet.
For this type of crops we recommend emitting pipes with turbulent drippers and flow rates between 1.6 – 2.2 litres with distances between them of 30 – 40 centimetres and a separation between drip lines of 1.5 – 2 metres.
In addition, due to the large size of the plants, as well as the large leaf mass generated by this crop, thin tape-type pipes are not recommended, but rather pipes with a thickness of 0.9 – 1.0 millimetres.
- OPENDRIP: emitter pipe with integrated long turbulent regime dripper Thanks to its double pre-filter and wide labyrinth passages it provides maximum resistance to clogging and a perfectly uniform flow.
- CEODRIP: short turbulent integrated dripper with maximum resistance to clogging that provides a perfectly uniform flow. The first dripper developed by Gestiriego with a history of more than 25 years.
- PRODRIP: turbulent flat dripper with symmetrical geometry and long distance labyrinth.
Are you thinking of establishing drip irrigation in your artichoke crop? Contact us and we will help you to design, implement and manage an efficient drip irrigation system for your crop.