Although Taraxacum kok-saghyz has been grown in Kazakhstan, Russia and other countries until the 1950’s, the agronomy of the rubber dandelion using current technology was rather unknown at the start of the Drive4EU project.
During the project we explored and demonstrated the consecutive steps in general root crop production: sowing (bed preparation, densities, sowing date), fertilization, herbicide treatments, harvesting (harvest machines, harvest date) and storage, in Belgium, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan.
Although transplanting seedlings of rubber dandelion is too expensive for large scale production systems, we experimented several years with planting as this was at that moment the best system to have a secure installation of the field and to achieve the best possible rubber dandelion root production. Different seed bed systems (ridges versus flat bed systems) were explored. Planting on flat field resulted in high densities and higher yields (3.3 ton DM/ha), but root morphology differed from planting on ridges. Ridges resulted in longer roots, but a lower plant density and a lower yield on a hectare basis.
In the last years of the project, we were able to experiment with direct sowing. We tested naked seeds versus pelleted and/or primed seeds. We were able to improve the field germination by priming and pelleting the seed. We experienced that sowing conditions are optimal in late spring or early autumn if sufficient moisture is available.
Using larger scale demonstration fields (up to 4 ha), we experimented with herbicides in order to control weed development. Herbicides, which can be used in the cultivation of rubber dandelion are identified. Further, several harvesting technologies were tested to harvest the roots as clean as possible, with minimized breaks in the roots and minimal harvest of the leaves.
InExCB (KZ), Rusthoeve (NL) and ILVO (B) produced along the project small up to large scale quantities for further processing.