Prepare for Forcing
Chicory roots keep very well when stored in moist sand or peat. So the
first stage is to harvest the roots in late October to November. Carefully dig them
up and remove as much soil as possible from the roots. The size of the roots is
crucial for the production of tight well formed chicons.
Select healthy looking roots. Discard any roots (onto the compost heap) which are smaller
than 2.5cm (1in) or larger than 5cm (2in) at the crown (top) of the root. Roots which are
too small will produce badly formed and small chicons. Roots which are too large will tend
to produce two or more chicons which are too small for use.
Trim the tops of the roots removing any foliage and leaving only a 2cm (�in) stub at the
top. Use a sharp knife to remove any side shoots from the roots. Place a 2cm (�in) layer of
moist sand or peat in a large box and lay the chicory roots on it as close as possible but
not touching. Cover with moist sand or peat. As long as the box is kept cool (a few degrees
above freezing is ideal) but not frosted, the roots will keep for a couple of months. A dry
shed is an ideal place to store chicory roots.
The roots can be removed from storage whenever you wish to start the forcing process.
Forcing takes about four to five weeks and each root, ideally, will produce one chicon. Find
a container wide enough to take four or more chicons, each separated by a couple of
centimetres (1 inch). The container should be at least 20cm (8in) deeper than the longest
Fill the container with moist sand, peat or similar to a depth of about 10cm (4in) and
place the chicory roots vertically into the soil so that they barely touch the base of the
container. The roots can as close to each other as you like but not touching each other.
Fill the container up with more moist sand or peat to at least 2.5cm (1in) above the top of
You can use whatever container you like (plastic bags can used) as long as it has at
least 18cm (7in) headroom above the soil. This will allow the chicons to spout from the top
of the root and grow. Ideally, after covering the roots, it is best to add another 18cm
(7in) of moist sand or peat. that way the chicons will grow through the sand, rather than
air, making them more dense and compact.
The container must have all light excluded from it (a plastic bag covering is ideal. It
should be stored at between 10 - 15C (50 - 60F). The chicons will be ready for harvest in
about four weeks.
To harvest them, cut the chicon off as near to the base of the root crown as possible.
This will stop the outer leaves falling off.
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