Short General Idea concerning Endive Cultivation


Field cultivation



Crop follow-up


Storage of the roots

Cold-storage room

Placing the roots in the forcing trays

Forcing room





Packing the chicory

Interesting adresses

Plant pathology

Other adress


Hydro-Chic can provide you


The endive is a biannual. The first year of cultivation serves to develop the root. The second year, the plant gives his flower.

Chicory has been appreciated by man from time immemorial. Medicinal propreties are attribuated to the plant, and it is also valued for its eating qualities. In particular, the young blanched schoots grown on forced chicory roots have long been consumed as a vegetable.

Currently, witloof cultivation is being untertaken in an increasing number of countries all over the world.

The vegetable witloof is the result of a regrowing of the central bud on chicory roots. By this firm head of etiolated leaves, called chicon, is produced.

Witloof chicory is produced in two stages. In the first stage the chicory root is grown in the field. In the second stage the harvested roots are forced to produce the chicon which constitutes the vegetable proper . The entire process of witloof chicory growing thus requires two successive cultivation periods.

The cultivation of the chicory root is similar to that of many other farm crops. Sowing is done in spring on a flat field or on ridges. Since the thickness of the chicon is largely influenced by the thickness of root a regular distribution or spacing of the plants in the field is needed. Crop care in the field, weed and pest control are similar to those used with other crops.

The roots are harvested in late summer or autumn . Then they are transported to the chicory production unit where they are cleaned, visually inspected for diseases and damage, eventually sized and treated to prevent diseases. The roots are then stored in a refrigerated room.

The second stage in chicory production is forcing. It is the process of artificially stimulating the root, mainly by heating, to produce a chicon outside its normal growing season. Foring methods however have been subjected to radical changes in the past twenty years.

As soon as the chicons are full-grown they are harvested or picked by breaking them off of the roots. As a result the roots looses its growing point and it is of no further use. The harvested chicons are then cleande and abnormal or superfluous leaves are removed. During cleaning the chicon must also be fashioned into an optimal shape, even by removing a few normal and healthy leaves. Finally the chicons are classified according to their quality class and packed in a suitable commercial pack ready for auction or sale.

After a year of intense work and care the chicons can be presented to the consumers at home and abroad.

The cultivation of endives in hydroponic forcing began in 1975, with the variety "Zoom" is since 1977 in the endives world.

Field cultivation

Crop production

Initial cultivation of the endive in the field is most important for the future quality of the chicory. In general, "sugar beet soil" is perfectly suitable for cultivation of endives which are slightly more drought-resistant.

Soil which is too clayey or stony, or plots which are too steeply inclined are to be avoided in view of the likely difficulties encountered during harvesting. The normal period of plant growth is 4 months. It is important to programme lifting of the roots at a time when there is a significant difference between day-time and night-time temperatures.

Chicory is a plant which does not take kindly to over-fertilization. Nutritive excesses, especially of nitrogen and potassium, are not good for subsequent development.

In general, only a light top dressing is tolerated (less than 75 units K). To ensure proper development of the crop in the field, and to improve storage of the roots and their forcing quality, a foliar top-dressing programme will have to be implemented.


Sowing is only to be envisaged when positive temperatures (+ 5 C°) are forecast for the month after this operation (in the field).

In view of the smallness of the seed, and above all to ensure regular calibration of the roots at harvest, accurate sowing is very important. A good sower must be able :

* to distribute the seed at a regular distance (± 6 cm);
* to sow the seed at a regular depth ( ± 0,5 cm);
* to stamp the seed.

The distance between rows is about 35 cm, which gives a seed population of approx. 500,000 seeds/ha.


The most suitable varieties of endives can be divided into 3 groups, depending on the forcing season.

Early varieties have a shorter growing cycle and are suitable for the first months of endive production, at the start of the chicory season. (In Belgium, from early September to October 15).

Ordinary varieties have a better yield. They retain optimum yields until forcing in May-June.

Late varieties withstand cold-storage better.

Crop follow-up

The endive grows slowly during the first months of cultivation.

This is why :- one has to wait until the soil has warmed up sufficiently before sowing. Germination will then be fast and uniform;
- chemical weed-killing has to be carried out meticulously. This will help to prevent stress in the young plants.

The following standard weed-killing regime is recommended :
9L/ha of BONALAN (benfluraline), incorporated at a depth of 10 cm;
1 g/ha of KERB (propyzamide), incorporated at a depth of 1 cm;
2 kg/ha of ASULOX (azulame), in pre-emergence;
3 L/ha of LEGURAME (carbetamine), in pre-emergence;
0.2 L/ha of AZ (isoxaben), in post-emergence.
0,1 L/ha of SAFARI (triflusulfuron-methyle), in post-emergence.

has researched and developed the foliar programme intended to to assure you a good production of good quality roots.

After 6 weeks of crop growth, foliar spraying with foli-chic can begin.

Two systemic fungicide treatments, using tilt and gana, are to be scheduled towards the end of July.


Lifting of the roots consists in cutting a 12-cm strip of land per row of roots, to a depth of some 15 cm. A good lifting machine only removes the roots, with as little soil as possible.

An average of 150,000 roots per hectare are lifted for forcing.

These roots are stored in approx. 70 x 1 cu.m. wooden crates (pallox).


Storage of the roots

Before storing the roots, which can be of long duration and which is generally done in crates of 1 cu.m. in size, (pallet-boxes) it is important to prepare the roots. This operations consists in the following :

- elimination of the earth still present around the roots, without however damaging the latter;
- elimination of those roots which are too small;
- possible calibration of the roots into 2 lots;
- treatment of the roots against diseases which can occur during storage and forcing :
- kildan at 1 kg/ha against sclerotinia;
- pulsan at 4 kg/ha against phytophthora;
- thebuzate at 3L/ha against phoma;
- cacl2 at 40 kg/ha against browning of the centre core.

Cold-storage room

Storage is organized in insulated rooms, usually cooled by a refrigeration unit, for the storage and conservation of the roots from 8 days to 10 months, according to the forcing schedule.

The storage during a long period is used for roots which will be forced a long time later than the harvesting date.

The temperature in the refrigerator is -2 C°, with 100 % relative humidity.

The output of the refrigeration unit is calculated by taking into account the need of lowering the temperature of the roots to ± 0°C in one day and the considerable heat generated during storage.


Placing the roots in the forcing trays

Thanks to cold-storage of the roots, it is possible to plant endive every day of the year, i.e. ± 200 working days. It is market conditions (possibility of selling the chicory) which determine the quantity of roots to be forced at any given time. To this end, the necessary quantity of roots are removed. The roots, stored in bulk in 1 cu.m. crates, are now placed side by side, directly in the forcing trays (standard dimension : 1.2 m x 1 m). The forcing cases or forcing trays are movable and stackable in the forcing room . To facilitate this operation, the forcing tray is inclined at an angle of 45°, which allows the roots to be placed vertically at the bottom of the tray. Since the crop is grown in accordance with hydroponics, it is vital to ensure 100 % cleanliness of the entire installation, and more particularly of the forcing trays.

To ensure the proper development of the bud, the roots must not be set too tightly together in the forcing tray.

The ideal number is 500 roots per tray, thus allowing proper circulation of the irrigation water during the forcing operation.

A good forcing tray must maintain the difference in temperature between the air-conditioned room's cold air, and the nutritive solution's hot water circulating in the forcing trays.

developed forcing trays made of aluminium, insulated and having a plastic lid.

These trays are resistance to corrosion caused by the application of CaCl2.
  adapted to the modern manipulation machines.
  thermal insulated
  designed to ensure a proper circulation of the nutrient solution

These trays are covered with a sheet of plastic to ensure a proper seal, are a good and economical compromise solution. It is better not to use metal trays because of their low

The number of forcing trays which will be required, will include at the very least the number of those used in the forcing unit, plus the trays prepared during a day's work, thus guaranteeing an adequate number of trays.

Forcing room

The forcing room is a darkened, air-conditioned room in which the chicory grows in stackable, forcing cases for the 21 days of its production cycle. A root only produces one chicory in its life-time; once it has been harvested, it is used as cattle feed.


The growing cycle is 21 days precisely, i.e. 3 calendar weeks. To comply with this forcing time, which is important for organizing the work, it is essential to control the temperature of the ambient air. It is to be noted that chicory generates heat when growing. This is controlled by a refrigeration unit. Cold exchangers are incorporated in the central ventilation shaft. To ensure proper air distribution without causing draughts, it is vital to direct the air into the appropriate air shafts. Most forcing units only have one main cell but the current trend is to work with at least one cell per week or better still, one cell every 2 production days. The forcing room will enable more accurate control of forcing conditions.


To prevent the chicory - mainly the "normal" production - from drying out, it is vital to maintain high ambient hygrometry. This can be ensured by installing mist sprayers in the ventilation system.


To my knowledge, chicory is the only crop which water can be fully recycled. Thanks to its uniform growth, all the chicory planted the same day arrives at the same growth stage. To control growing conditions properly, it is vital to provide for irrigation every 2 consecutive production days. The normal duration of a cycle is 21 days, i.e. 3 weeks. This explains why it is necessary to multiply by 3 (weeks) the weekly technology. For greater flexibility, it is advisable to add a hydroponics unit to the number arrived at. A forcing unit which operates 4 days/week will thus be equipped with 6 + 1 = 7 vats.

Each nutrient reservoir, normally sunk in the floor, includes the following:

- a high-yield irrigation pump to provide the necessary hydroponic compounds in ideal conditions to all the forcing boxes.
- a coiled tube for heating the nutrient solution
- a coiled tube for cooling the nutrient solution
- conducting tubes of PVC to lead the nutrient solution to the forcing room and to watering the roots
- a regulation and control equipment such as thermostat, pHstat and Ecstat,...


To ensure optimum growth within the allotted period of time, it is necessary to provide adequate fertilization. The solution is adapted to the age of the chicory in the forcing unit and to the lot being cultivated.

HYDRO-CHIC provide 4 solutions to ensure the necessary balance :

Hydro-V1 Ca + Mg ± 30 l/ha
Hydro-Ph N ± 50 l/ha
Hydro-V2 K ± 100 l/ha
P44 P ± 1 kg/ha

Packing the chicory

After 21 days of forcing, the chicory is ready for packing.

The first operation consists in separating the root as such. This "breaking" operation is done by twisting the plant away from the root.

The chicory's outer leaves may show some signs of imperfection or do not come to a proper tip. In this case, it will be necessary to remove some of them to present a vegetable which complies with the strict quality criteria required for optimum commercialization.

The chicory, which has been pared in this way, is then packed in its final packaging :

* a 500 g punnet

* a 500 - 2000 g plastic bag

* a 2.5 - 5 kg crate with blue sheets of paper between the various layers of chicory to give better protection and prevent greening by exposure to light.

Storing endive

How to prepare Belgian Endive (nice site of Belgian Endive Marketing Bord)

The yield per plant is higher than 120g/chicory, without, however, exceeding 180 g.

Interesting adress

Epicurious Dictionary

A New Vegetable Crop in the United States

Belgian Endive Johnny's seeds Edition

Witloof chicory


Plant pathology

Endive (INRA)

Fertilization of Escarole

Endive insect

Insect control in Endive (escarole)

Belgian Endive problems (very interesting)

 chemical weed-killing in Texas

Plant pathology Internet Guide Book (PPIGB)

Nematode Management in Leaf Crops (endive)

Viruses of plant - Endives

Endive necrotic mosaic

Chemical weed controls of lettuce, endive


Other adress

Belgian Endive, Chicon

Endive, Chicory and Witloof

Belgian Endive: Wat is it ?

Chicory, Witloof Chicory, French Endive

How is endive grown ?

 Witloof Chicory: a new vegetable crop in USA

Belgian Endive Australian Page

Cichorium endivia in Australian

Belgian Endive from California

Belgian Endive from Melissa

US Import for Consumption Witloof chicory

Endive from Poetry


endive & Taleggio Boats

Crab and Asparagus Dijonnaise

Endive Salad with Kumquats

 andere recepten

49 Epicurius recipe file

Recipes Sorted by Calories

Belgian Endive recipes

The Californian endive recipe library

Belian Endive Side Appetizer Recipe

Recipes sorted by Preparation Time

Recipes sorted by Coosemans



Canada Montréal 3619 Saint Denis


 Hydro-Chic can provide you

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