Organic Cultivation of Radicchio rosso di Chioggia (Chicorium intybus var. silvestre) in Iowa

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  • 1 Univ. of Padova, Agronomy, Legnaro, Padova, 30030, Italy
  • 2 Iowa State Univ., Plant Pathology
  • 3 Iowa State Univ., Plant Pathology
  • 4 Univ. of Arkansas, Dept. of Horticulture

An experiment was carried out at the Iowa State Univ., Neely-Kinyon Research Station (Greenfield, Iowa) to asses the possibility of growing organic radicchio rosso (Chicorium intybus var. silvestre) in Iowa and to determine the effectiveness of different organic fertilizers. The experiment was a factorial combination of three radicchio cultivars (very early, medium early, and early), three organic fertilizers treatments (non-fertilized control, liquid, and compost based), and two planting dates (11 July and 7 Aug). Treatments were arranged in a split plot design with four replicates. In each sub-plot, plants were transplanted, maintaining 30 cm between plants and 75 cm between rows (4.4 plant per m2). During the growth cycle the crop was managed according to typical production techniques adopted for lettuce. Beginning the first week after transplanting, canopy reflectance measurements were taken every 2 weeks until harvest, using a multispectral radiometer MSR 87 (Cropscan, Inc. Rochester Minn.). At harvest, total and marketable yields were measured and dry matter production was calculated. Yield loss was determined after 15 days of cold storage (4 °C). Cropscan measurement showed no differences among fertilizers treatments, mainly because of the high fertility of the soil (6% organic matter), but different growing patterns among radicchio types. The mediumearly type grew quicker than the other types, and showed the lowest percentage of bolted plants (<4%) and the least preharvest weight loss (5%). Moreover, radicchio demonstrated resistance from the hot and dry Iowa summer even without irrigation, representing a useful alternative crop for both organic and conventional farmers.

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