Gardening

Tigernuts: [Cultivation, Irrigation, Care, Pests and Diseases]

Cyperus esculentus or Chufa is a plant that was incorporated in the first agricultural civilizations of the area of ​​the fertile crescent.

It was introduced to Europe by the Arabs, most likely during the Middle Ages, when their rule spread to North Africa. Today it is known for making the drink known as horchata .

It is also used in popular medicine to regulate some stomach ailments, as well as to improve circulation, and prevent coronary heart disease.

Important points when planting a tigernut:
  • Scientific name: Cyperus esculentus.
  • Common name: Tigernut, hazelnut sedge, coquillo, cutufa, tule, coyolito.
  • Height: 30 to 50 centimeters.
  • Light requirement: Direct light.
  • Temperature: Temperate climates (18ºC to 24ºC).
  • Irrigation: Frequent.
  • Fertilizer : Organic fertilizer.

What characteristics does the tigernut have?

The tigernut is a lively plant that normally measures 30 to 50 centimeters in height, although sometimes it can reach up to 80 centimeters. This plant is characterized by having a system of underground rhizomes from which oval tubers sprout , better known as tigernuts.

These tubers are 10 to 20 millimeters long, dark in color, and have a flavor similar to almonds. Its stem is solid, smooth, triangular in section and yellowish-green in color.

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From this emerges a group of narrow, rough, pale green leaves, which can measure 20 to 100 centimeters in length. The flowers of chufa measure 6 to 12 mm, and lack cup crown, and are gold or brown.

Together they form a cluster of elongated spikes at the tips of the stems, which are accompanied by long narrow leaves. On the other hand, the seeds are small achenes, measuring about 1.5 millimeters in length. They have a triangular shape and are yellow or grayish brown in color.

When to plant the tigernut?

The tigernut was traditionally sown during the month of May and June. However, a higher yield was observed when sowing during the first fortnight of April, since in this month the minimum temperature for sowing it (12ºC) was presented.

Where to plant the tigernut?

The chufa is grown in regions with climate , where the relative humidity ranges temperate or Mediterranean between 65% to 70%.

Regarding the temperature, it should be mild, with average temperatures of 18ºC to 24ºC throughout the day.

It is important to note that tiger nuts are sensitive to low temperatures, as well as strong winds. So it will be important to keep it in a protected place and at a stable temperature.

Did you know…?
In some countries it has been classified as one of the worst weeds in the world for hoarding nutrients and resources even after its cultivation. Dried tigernut remains have been found in Egyptian sarcophagi and tombs dating back to the fourth millennium BC.

How to prepare the land?

For the tigernut to obtain a sweeter taste and be of better quality, it should be grown in sandy loam soils, loose, light in texture, well drained and leveled.

It is recommended to keep the land free of weeds to avoid competition for resources. This is important because tiger nuts need nutrients, especially during their early stages of development.

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On the other hand, the tigernut is a depleting plant , that is, it impoverishes the land in which it is grown because it absorbs all its nutrients. Therefore, it will be vital to ensure that the land is always fertile by applying fertilizers.

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To enrich the land, it is recommended to apply organic fertilizers, either from cattle or pig manure with a sand bed. It is generally selected as the second crop in the crop rotation to take advantage of the remaining nutrients.

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How do we water the tigernut?

The chufa is a crop that comes from wetlands, so its water need is high and in temperate areas, must be met by irrigation. This should be applied continuously and in very short shifts to keep it at its optimum level.

The most recommended method of applying irrigation is through furrow gravity. However, for smaller crops, it can be done manually. Likewise, it is estimated that the volume of water required is 500 to 700 m 3 per hectare.

How often do we water the tigernut?

The first watering should be applied when the plant reaches a height of 15 to 20 centimeters, 25 or 30 days after planting.

It is important to apply it at this time so as not to compact the soil and not to harm the development of the plants. From then on, irrigation will adapt to the weather conditions and its growth phases.

It is recommended that, in June, the frequency be 1 watering every 10 days; from July to August, 1 time every 8 days; from September to October, 1 time every 10 or 12 days.

How to plant a tigernut step by step?

The chufa can be grown in plots or in flowerbeds. Instructions for sowing it in any of the cases are shared below:

  1. Wash and hydrate the dried tigernuts in fresh water for 36 or 48 hours.
  2. In plots: till the soil previously moistened, or at temperate, in raised furrows.
  3. In pots: prepare the recommended substrate , fill the pot and moisten it.
  4. Place the tubers at a depth of 7 to 8 centimeters, spaced every 8 to 10 centimeters.
  5. Cover the seeds and wait 25 to 30 days for your first watering.

What care does the tigernut need?

The tigernut is not a plant that needs a lot of attention or maintenance when it is grown under the necessary conditions. It should only be monitored that the water supply is as necessary, without shortages and without excesses.

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All the care will pay off in the fall, when the plant’s foliage has dried out. Then, the time will have come to harvest and collect the new tubers, either for consumption or for replanting.

What pests and diseases affect tigernut?

Being a rustic plant, tigernut tends to present few problems. However, it can be affected by worms wire borer worms, moths and beetles.

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Among the diseases, those caused by the fungi Fusarium and Rhizoctonia have been reported .

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