Yacon Cultural and Technical Information

This page is designed to consolidate all the information we’ve found about matters pertaining to the history, culture, and health benefits of  Yacon. Nevermore Farm wants to extend many thanks to Ms. Ednita Murdock, whose tireless mining of internet resources brought a great deal of this information to our attention. And also thanks  to Dr. Alan Kapuler, an Oregon botanist considered to be a world authority on yacon, for taking the time to answer questions as well as share some very high quality written information.

Historical Perspectives and Health Information

Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation pp. 114-123

Natural Diabetes Treatment this site contains several scientific references and abstracts concerning health benefits of the roots and leaves (as tea).

Yacon on Wikipedia Condensed information on various parts of the yacon plant as well as numerous links to further research

Journal of Ethnopharmacology: Hypoglycemic effect of the water extract of Smallantus sonchifolus (yacon) leaves in normal and diabetic rats (abstract and summary; article must be purchased)

Yacon root, herb and syrup research studies: by Ray Sahelian, M.D., health benefits

Recipe Link Collection

Recipes at Nichols Garden Nursery Mother Earth News

Cultural Information

Yacon: Renaissance of an Ancient Andean Foodplant by Alan Kapuler, PhD. The single most informative essay I’ve encountered on the plant. Very useful to the serious grower.

Peruvian Ground Apple Growing Information A good article on how to grow and harvest the plant.

Technical

Establishment of a Classification Scheme to structure the Post-Harvest Diversity of Yacon Storage Roots

Yacon: Chemical composition and use-a review Exploration of potential use for the plant in the Czech republic. Scientific/technical content. (Thanks to Dr. Kapuler for sharing this)

Nevermore Farm Tidbits: Some of the details we’ve noted about growing the plants that aren’t mentioned elsewhere, near as we can tell:

Harvest After a Freeze: In 2009, due to the number of plants we grew, we had hardly begun our harvest when an early freeze struck in December, down to about 27-28 degrees. As we dug, we noted that certain tubers would be completely ruined, turned to jelly, and that others were still fine. Some tubers were half-ruined; we cut the damaged areas off in the field. The stems of yacon are hollow and lead down into the core of the plant, where the propagation roots and tubers are all together in a mass. The stems seem to have acted as a conduit for the cold…areas of the plant center were similarly ruined but all the propagation roots were okay. In order to make the divisions for next year, we used a 6″ knife that we inserted straight down into the crown. With careful cutting and twisting, trying to avoid slicing through any propagation roots, we were able to break open the crown. Some crowns had even become host to termite colonies, which were feeding on the ruined areas of the plant…crowns with termites had only a hollow where the gelatinous material would have been. Obviously, we took a lot of care to process these over sheets of plastic that were then promptly emptied into a wheelbarrow…at the end of each day we took the termite laden material far away from any structures. We have also seen earwigs and sowbugs populate damaged crowns, but in no instance did any damage to the plants occur from the insects.

Propagation: When dividing the propagation tubers, in our early years of growing we treated them a bit like potatoes..if there was an “eye” available, we isolated it to make a new plant. However we realized over time that taking larger sections for propagation, equal to or greater than the mass of a golf ball or a shot glass, abd with 2-6 “eyes”,  led to a much higher success rate. We are in USDA zone 9. So our annual practice is to replant some divisions immediately back into prepared rows in the field, and to reserve 400-500 plants in 4″ pots in the greenhouse (on the floor, under the shelves, out of direct light, in plastic-lined trays of 48 pots). We have used both soilless medium and potting soil for potting the divisions, and no difference was noted in performance between the two choices. These are the ones we sell as well as our “backup” stock in the event of a catastrophic freeze. The greenhouse stock begins to break dormancy in February, whereas the roots in the field generally break the soil surface some four weeks later.