Chia, cultivation of the plant

Chia, cultivation of the plant

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Chia, cultivation of the plantstarting from the seed. Images of the plant and notes on how to grow chia in Italy.

Therechia, a botanical species known under the name ofsalvia hispanica, is a plant of the Lamiaceae, belongs to the same family as the mint.

ThereSalvia Hispanicais native to Mexico and Guatemala and is a cultivated species since the times ofAztecsin pre-Columbian times. Historical artifacts havewitnessedthat a time therechiait was as important as corn and was one of the main food crops.

THEChia seedsthey are still used today as a food source in countries likeParaguay, Bolivia, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina and throughout the Southwest of the United States only recently the consumption ofchiait is spreading in Europe. In these countries the chiait is used both as a food source and for the preparation of a typical drink known aschia water. Even in Iran therechiait is widespread where it is used above all for the preparation of a cold drink known as Sharbat.

Chia cultivation

On a commercial scale, thechia cropsthey are widespread in Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Australia. Given the growing consumer interest in this seed, new varieties (patented in Kentucky) have recently been developed forcultivationof theChiain the northern latitudes of the United States, it is therefore more varietycold resistant. Chia's popularity is tied to its ownnutritional propertiesof no small importance.

For all information I invite you to read the pageChia, nutritional properties.

Chia cultivation in Italy

It's possiblecultivate chia in Italy? Yup! It is possible but it is not always convenient to do it for commercial purposes. For commercial cultivation, patented seeds should be purchased and able to develop even in our climate which is cooler than the places of origin of chia.

The cultivation cycle ofChiait is closely linked to the climate and altitude of cultivation. In hishabitatthe cultivation cycle of thechia, from seed to harvest, it only lasts 100 - 130 days. The duration of the cultivation cycle goes beyond 180 days in fields located at altitudes of 900 - 1500 meters.

Thecropscommercial ofChiathey are found in a range of altitudes ranging from 8,000 to 2,200 m but in ecosystems ranging from tropical to coastal desert to tropical rainforest.

Only until 2012 was it not possible cultivate chia in latitudes that were not tropical or subtropical. Today there are species ofSalvia hispanicathat can be adapted in the temperate zones of the globe therefore also in Italy. These are varieties that are more resistant to cold and can have even higher yields than the original seeds. In southern Italy, the cultivation of traditional chia seeds could be attempted, but in this case the cultivation cycle would range from 5 to 8 months.

ThereSalvia hispanicait prefers well-drained, medium-textured soil or sandy soils. The soil can be only moderately fertile but with a pH reaction you tend to acid. During the germination phase, the seeds need moist soil while thechiait does not tolerate humidity in the growth phase.

In thecropstrade the production ofchiatakes place in rows spaced from 70 to 80 cm with a quantity of 6 kg of seeds planted for each hectare of land.

In most of thecropscommercial, no fertilizers are used. Only in rare cases is low fertilization with nitrogen fertilizers recommended.

Also the use ofpesticidesit is limited inchia crops. The essential oils contained in chia seeds as well as in the leaves are rich in active ingredients that perform a natural repellent action against insects. Therechia, with its properties, it is perfect fororganic cultivation. The only risks are related to virus or fungal diseases.

Weeds can become a big problem in the early stages of plant development but even then, no herbicides are used in commercial crops:chiait is very sensitive to the most common herbicides and requires mechanical weeding.

Pictures of the chia plant
- Ornamental shoots, the photo above shows chia seeds sprouted on an artificial trunk.
- Flowering, the second photo shows a chia plant in full bloom.
- Chia seeds, the third image shows chia seeds ready to be used for a large number of recipes.



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