Jerusalem Artichoke cultivation in northern climate

The vegetable tuber crop Helianthus tuberosus, with the common name Jerusalem artichoke or sunshoke, is a crop with a genetic determined day length dependency for tuber initiation. Our main aims of the studies is to test ability of growing new genetic variants mainly imported from Canada and other northern European countries under different latitudes in Norway and evaluate content of biochemical (inulin) and the tuber form with focus on washing and peeling ability. Our research also deals with development of healthy snack products from J. artichokes. Feeding trials are performed at Norwegian University of Life Sciences to reduce skatole level and intestinal microbiota in the gut of entire male pigs.

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Flowering varieties of Jerusalem Artichoke in an experimental field at NIBIO Landvik, research scientist Randi Seljaasen. Photo: Ove Hetland / NIBIO
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Jerusalem artichoke makes frost tolerant root tubers which can be harvested in late autumn or during the wither and spring under Norwegian conditions. Photo: Randi Seljaasen.
The vegetable tuber plant Helianthus tuberosus has reserved attention the last years because of the high content of the multi functional and healthy prebiotic fructooligosaccharides (FOS), often referred to as inulin, which is one group of FOS. Reported effects of this biocompounds are: proliferation of bifidiobacteria and reduction of detrimental bacteria in the colon, reduction of toxic metabolites and detrimental enzymes, prevention of constipation, protection of liver function, stimulating effect on calcium uptake and synthesis of B-vitamins, reduction of serum cholesterol, reduction of blood pressure, and anti-cancer effects. The FOS content is investigated for several varieties under central European conditions. However, FOS content in clones adapted to the north European area has to be investigated.

The aim of our research is to investigate cultivation possibilities for Nordic and arctic clones under Norwegian climate conditions. Further, external and sensory quality as well as FOS content are investigated for the most suited varieties for cultivation under our long day conditions. Other topics for our research is focus on the effects of latitude, cultivation practice, storage and processing on tuber initiation and quality.

Tubers processed by different dehydrating / drying methods are tested for health effects by animal trials with pigs to investigate health effects in general and effects on sensory meat quality. The practical goal for farmers and industry will be to find better varieties of high quality tubers suited for the different latitudes in Norway. Our research is interdisciplinary and involves areas within the sciences of plant, animal nutrition and medicine, sensory quality and FOS content.