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Jerusalem artichoke

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), or earthen pear, is a technical fodder crop.

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
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©Darkone (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Economic importance

Jerusalem artichoke is mainly cultivated as an industrial crop in order to obtain inulin, the content of which in tubers is up to 30-40% of dry matter. Hydrolysis of inulin yields fructose. The tubers also serve as raw materials in the production of alcohol, wine and wine vinegar, fodder yeast, and beer.

Jerusalem artichoke is also used for food purposes. For example, in France, tubers are eaten in the same way as potatoes. The tubers of table varieties of earthen pear are eaten boiled, baked, fried, sometimes raw.

Tubers and green mass of earthen pear can be used for fodder purposes.

The stems and leaves are rich in vitamins, the dry matter content reaches 25-30%, which includes most of the carbohydrates with a small amount of fiber. The dry matter protein contains all the essential amino acids. The green mass is also rich in inulin, which, under the action of the gastric juice of animals, turns into fructose.

Green mass for feed is used fresh, which is relatively well eaten by all animals. On average, 100 kg of green fodder corresponds to 20-25 feed units and contains 1.8 kg of digestible protein. The green mass of Jerusalem artichoke is of great importance as a top dressing in fur farms and hunting farms.

Hay and grass flour, silage are made from green mass. Due to the fact that the stems of Jerusalem artichoke contain up to 25-30% (dry matter) carbohydrates, and with leaves – 15-20%, the green mass is easily ensiled. Silage is well stored and eaten by cattle, sheep, goats and other animals. 100 kg of silage correspond to 18-25 feed units. 1 feed unit contains 80-90 g of digestible protein. The chemical composition of the silo: water – 75.2%; protein – 2.6%; fats – 0.5%; fiber – 6.6%; BEV – 13.7%; mineral substances – 3.0%.

Jerusalem artichoke tubers contain up to 21-30% dry matter, including 10-18% inulin, 5-7% fructose, about 2-4% protein, carotene, B vitamins and minerals. The content of vitamins is 2 times more than in potato tubers. In terms of nutritional value, they are not inferior to potatoes: 100 kg contain 23-30 feed units and 1.5 kg of protein, they are well eaten by animals and birds. In terms of quality and nutritional value, it is not inferior to corn and sunflower silage.

Jerusalem artichoke gives the earliest feed for pigs. Their grazing on earthen pear plantations in early spring makes it possible to almost completely abandon other types of feed. The weight gain of piglets when they are fed with tubers increases by 20-30%, and when fattening animals, the quality of fat increases. For this reason, in our country, at the stage of introduction into production, this crop was most widely used in pig farms, and in the 80s. the Baltic States, where (was) developed bacon pig breeding.

Tubers for feed are used raw, steamed or boiled. In winter, combined silos are prepared from them, thereby lengthening the period of feeding with tubers and avoiding their long-term storage, which is often difficult.

It can be used for medicinal purposes for people with diabetes, anemia and atherosclerosis, as it helps to reduce blood sugar and restore vision.

Jerusalem artichoke is known in culture – a hybrid of Jerusalem artichoke and sunflower, which almost does not differ from Jerusalem artichoke. It is also used as an earthen pear. Unlike the latter, it does not clog the crops of subsequent crops and allows you to place them in crop rotations.

Jerusalem artichoke can be used as a green manure.

Cultural history

In the wild flora, Jerusalem artichoke grows in North America, from where it was brought to Europe in the 17th century. Came to Russia in the 18th century.

Cultivation areas

Large cultivated areas of earthen pears are found in France, Poland, Hungary, Scandinavian countries, Great Britain, USA, Japan and China.

The area under crops in the world is approximately 0.5 million hectares.

In the USSR, this crop was cultivated everywhere, but in limited areas.

In Russia, it is grown in small areas in the North Caucasus, in the Non-Chernozem and Central Black Earth zones, the Volga region, Siberia and the Far East. As an ornamental plant, it can be found everywhere.

Due to the peculiarities of the light regime, Jerusalem artichoke in the north of Russia is cultivated mainly as a silage crop, in the south – as a technical one for obtaining tubers, in the middle lane both take place.


The yield in Russia is 50-60 t/ha of fodder mass, or 10-15 thousand fodder units per 1 ha. In the Caucasus and the countries of Central Asia, the yield of green mass is 20-100 t/ha, tubers 20-130 t/ra, depending on nutrition and moisture conditions.

In the central regions of Russia, in Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine, the yield of green mass varies from 20 to 75 t/ha, tubers – from 20 to 45 t/ha. In the Non-Chernozem zone and the north of the European part of Russia, as well as the Baltic countries, Jerusalem artichoke produces 35-80 t/ha of green mass and 4-14 t/ha of tubers. In some regions of Siberia and the Far East, the yield of green mass is 30-140 t/ha, tubers – 9-20 t/ha.

Botanical description

Jerusalem artichoke is a tuberous perennial plant belonging to the Asteraceae family, genus Helianthus L. The genus Helianthus includes over 100 species, but only two of them are of agricultural importance: Helianthus annus L. (sunflower) and Helianthus tuberosus L. (ground pear).

Jerusalem artichoke has erect, branching, well leafy stems of green or slightly purple color and up to 1.5-4 m high. Bushiness is from 1 to 5 stems.

The leaves are pointed, large, stiffly pubescent, serrated at the edges, ovate, oblong-ovate or broadly ovate on long petioles. In the seedling phase, they look like a rosette; in the budding phase in the lower part of the shoot – whorled, in the middle and upper – next.

The inflorescence is a basket, just like a sunflower, but smaller, 1.3-5 cm in diameter. The flowers are bright yellow inside the inflorescence – tubular, marginal – reed. Inflorescences are located on the tops of the main and side shoots. Depending on the degree of branching, the number of inflorescences varies from 1 to 50 pieces per plant. Pollination is cross-pollinated by wind and insects.

The fruit is an achene, smaller than that of a sunflower, conical-angular in shape, gray or brown with specks in color. Transcaucasia); early ripening – in the Central Black Earth zone, sometimes near Moscow. Seed propagation is possible only in hot climates; in our country it is practiced only for selection.

The root system is fibrous, with seed reproduction – rod, well branched. The roots penetrate deep into the soil by 2 m; the working surface is 6-8 times larger than that of potatoes. The roots account for 4.6-8% of the total mass of the plant.

Branching of the shoot is possible aboveground and underground. The above-ground branching of the shoot is acropetal, that is, from the axils of the lower opposite leaves, and basipetal – from the axils of the next leaves. In the underground part of the shoot, stolons are formed – underground lateral shoots. 4-6, the upper internodes of the stolon thicken, turning into a tuber. In varieties, the length of the stolons is 5-40 cm. The shorter the length of the stolons, the more compact the tuber nest.

Tubers are pear-shaped, oblong-oval or spindle-shaped, with a smooth or bumpy surface. The color varies from white to red-violet. The eyes are convex. On one plant of breeding varieties, the number of tubers reaches 20-30 pieces, in semi-wild forms – up to 70. The mass of the tuber is 10-100 g, depending on the variety and region of cultivation. Unlike potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke tubers do not have a cork layer (covered with a thin peel), therefore they are stored worse and are most often harvested in the spring. When planted in the soil, it usually produces one sprout.

Biological features

Temperature requirements

Jerusalem artichoke is resistant to high and low temperatures.

The requirements of earth pear of early ripening varieties for heat are similar to the requirements of medium and late ripening varieties of potatoes, that is, the sum of active temperatures for the growing season is 2000 °C; in mid- and late-ripening varieties – 2500-2800 °С (Department of plant growing of Moscow Agricultural Academy).

Above ground organs can withstand short-term frosts down to -8 °C, tubers – up to -12 °C in air and up to -35 °C in soil under snow cover. These properties determine the possibility of growing Jerusalem artichoke up to 65°N.

Germination begins at a soil temperature of 5-6 °C, more uniform germination occurs at 8-10 °C. Shoots appear in 3-4 weeks.

This culture also tolerates high temperatures well. Unlike potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke does not suffer from heat degeneration.

Moisture requirements

The earthen pear, thanks to its powerful deep-penetrating root system, is cast with increased drought resistance among tubers. However, earth pear gives high yields of tubers in a warm climate and sufficient moisture or irrigation.

The greatest resistance of plants to a lack of moisture in the soil is manifested in the phase of seedlings and the beginning of the formation of stolons. Critical periods occur at the beginning of the thickening of stolons and the formation of buds, that is, in the second half of summer, when moistening conditions improve in most regions of Russia.

Light requirements

Jerusalem artichoke does not have high requirements for light, however, a strong thickening can lead to a decrease in the yield of green mass, but especially tubers.

Refers to plants with a short daylight hours. The longer the growing season, the stronger the response of the variety to the reduction in day length. Therefore, early ripening varieties react little to short daylight hours and can form inflorescences and mature achenes even near Moscow. In the conditions of a relatively long day in the central and northern regions of the country, the yield of green mass increases, while tubers for most varieties decrease.

Soil requirements

Jerusalem artichoke can grow on all types of soils and soil varieties, except solonetzes, solonchaks and waterlogged soils. Loamy and sandy loamy soils with a deep cultivated arable layer, loose, permeable, are considered optimal for its cultivation.

Poorly tolerates acidic soils, optimal acidity pH 6-7, responsive to liming. It does not grow well in heavy, highly moist soils.

Plant nutrition

Despite unpretentiousness, earthen pear responds well to improved nutritional conditions.

With 1 ton of green mass of Jerusalem artichoke, 3 kg of N, 1.2-1.4 kg of P2O5 and 4.5 kg of K2O are removed from the soil . With 1 ton of tubers – 2-2.5 kg of N, 2-2.5 kg P2O5 and 7 kg K2O (G.V. Ustimenko).

Yields are greatly increased by fertilization. When applying 30 t/ha of manure in the first year, it led to an increase in the yield of green mass by 9.6 t/ha, tubers – by 1.5 t/ha, in the second year by 17.1 t/ha and 3.7 t/ha. ha, respectively (Moscow Agricultural Academy).

The supply of nitrogen to Jerusalem artichoke plants is not as intense as that of potatoes (Peoples’ Friendship University named after Patrice Lumumba). Its maximum content is noted only at the time of harvesting. In plants, there is an intensive outflow of phosphorus from above-ground organs and roots to tubers. By the end of the growing season, up to 50% P2O5 is concentrated in the tubers. The maximum amount of potassium enters the plants by the end of the summer period. As the growth and aging of tissues in plant organs ceases, the potassium content begins to decrease. Together with the harvest of tubers, up to 70% of the potassium that enters the plants is removed.


The growing season of Jerusalem artichoke varies from 120 to 200 days.

Jerusalem artichoke tubers can winter in the soil, which gave reason to classify it as a perennial plant. Every year, at the end of the growing season, the aerial organs of the earthen pear die off, and the tubers endure winters everywhere due to the polysaccharides contained. In spring, they germinate, giving 1-3 shoots from each tuber and forming a bush.

Plant organogenesis is determined by the formation of two storage organs at the ends of the axial shoot – vegetative (tubers) in the underground part of the stem and generative – baskets at the top. In the initial period of vegetation – before the thickening of the stolons – the growth of shoots is slow, before the formation of tubers, the daily growth of the stem increases, and during the period of thickening of the stolons they slow down. The greatest growth of stems is observed in the second half of summer, when up to 50% of the green mass yield is formed, the daily growth of plants in height reaches 4-5 cm. After that, growth processes slow down, plants form buds and flowers, and the outflow of plastic substances from leaves to shoots and tubers.

In the central and southern regions of Russia, tuberization begins in June-July, in the northern regions – in August. The period of onset of thickening of stolons depends on hereditary varietal characteristics, changes in the length of daylight hours and temperature fluctuations during the day and night. The formation of the tuber crop occurs mainly in the autumn months – in September and October (in the south and in November) before the onset of frost.

Jerusalem artichoke is characterized by high ecological plasticity. High yields of green mass under optimal water and nutrient conditions are possible in almost all regions of Russia, while high yields of tubers are possible only in regions with a hot summer period and a long warm autumn.

Crop rotation

Varieties and hybrids of Jerusalem artichoke are cultivated in near-farm and field crop rotations, as well as in hatching fields. A small shoot after the liquidation of plantations is destroyed by herbicides or other methods.

The term of use of perennial plantations is from 5 to 15 years.

Optimal predecessors when laying a perennial plantation are considered perennial and annual legumes, row crops, cereals, and legumes. In a perennial crop, varieties with short stolons, such as Nakhodka and Skorospelka, give the highest stable yields.

Ground pear is not placed after sunflower , root crops and other crops affected by sclerotinia. To prevent the spread of this disease, the plantation is laid no earlier than 4-5 years after these crops. In pig farms, Jerusalem artichoke plantations should be located near farms in order to be able to graze pigs.


Fertilization rates for Jerusalem artichoke are determined by soil fertility, planned harvest, moisture conditions.

When laying a perennial plantation, it is recommended to apply 30-60 t/ha of manure (preferably for a predecessor) or other organic fertilizers, as well as 60-90 kg/ha of a.i. nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. For the forest-steppe zone – N 60-90 P 90 K 90 .

Organic, phosphorus and potash fertilizers, also calcareous on acidic soils, are applied in the fall for the main plowing, nitrogen fertilizers – in the spring for plowing or cultivation.

In subsequent years, mineral fertilizers are applied annually. Organic fertilizers are applied after 4-5 years.


Soil cultivation for laying a perennial plantation of Jerusalem artichoke is similar to processing for potatoes and root crops.

After peeling, autumn tillage is carried out to a depth of 23-25 ​​cm, on soddy-podzolic soils – to the depth of the humus layer.

In the spring, after the onset of the physical ripeness of the soil, the fallow is harrowed. Then, in the southern regions, non-moldboard processing is performed, in the northern regions, shallow moldboard plowing or deep disking. On heavy loamy soils, it is recommended to carry out deep non-moldboard loosening, on light and medium loams – cultivation or disking. On heavy soils, layer-by-layer cultivation can be carried out.

Cultivate before planting.


Sowing dates

Usually Jerusalem artichoke is planted in spring, in the southern regions it is possible to plant in autumn.

Planting in the spring begins early, simultaneously with the start of sowing early spring crops, or 7-10 days earlier than potatoes. A delay in planting dates leads to a decrease in the yield of tubers and green mass.

Planting method and rates

The main planting method is wide-row with a row spacing of 60-70 cm.

The distance between tubers in a row is determined by soil fertility, tuber size, moisture conditions, varietal characteristics and is 30-60 cm (usually 30-35 cm).

In areas of sufficient moisture on fertile soils, the recommended planting density is 50-60 thousand tubers/ha, on medium-fertile soils – 40-45 thousand/ha, in dry conditions – 30-35 thousand/ha.

With increased branching of the variety, the distance between plants is increased or a square planting pattern of 60 × 60 cm or 70×70 cm is used. With small planting material, several large tubers can be planted per unit area, which allows you to get the same yield as when planting large tubers.

The most appropriate planting is whole tubers weighing 40-50 g. In the southern regions, where most of the tubers are usually larger, cut tubers can be used for planting. When planting in autumn, cutting tubers is not recommended. In the north, where the size of the tubers is usually 10-15 g, planting is carried out with a thickening of 30-50%.

The planting rate varies from 0.6-0.7 to 2.0 t/ha.

For planting, freshly dug tubers are used, which are dug out no earlier than 5 days before planting. When planting is delayed, they are sprinkled with earth or sand to prevent drying. Dried tubers can be placed in water for 1-1.5 days, after which their mass is restored.

Planting is usually carried out with potato planters, in small areas – manually into the furrows, previously cut with a hiller.

On heavy soils in terms of granulometric composition, the planting depth is no more than 5-6 cm, medium – 6-8 cm, on light soils – 8-10 cm. The depth is increased by 2-3 cm during autumn planting.

Crop care

Due to the long germination period , 2-3 pre-emergence harrowings are carried out to control weeds on crops. Also, one harrowing is recommended to be carried out on seedlings with light harrows.

At the beginning of the growing season, it is possible to carry out fertilizing with nitrogen fertilizers at the rate of 45 kg/ha of a.i.

When the plants reach a height of 10-15 cm, inter-row cultivation begins, at a height of 30-40 cm – hilling.

To increase the yield of green mass, chasing plants, or mowing the tops, is recommended. This technique helps to increase the branching of the stems and their foliage.


The harvest of green mass increases before the formation of tubers. However, it is not recommended to mow it during this period due to a sharp decrease in the collection of tubers. When determining the optimal harvesting time, they are guided by the maximum production of feed units. Thus, for the southern regions of Russia, the recommended time for mowing green mass is October – early November, in the northwestern regions – at the end of September, in the northern regions – at the end of August – early September. Green mass can be harvested for silage in the south – during the period of mass flowering, in the Non-Chernozem zone – 2-3 weeks before the onset of frost.

For harvesting green mass, silo harvesters are used. The cutting size for ensiling is 5-6 cm. It is recommended to mow at a high cut up to 15-30 cm, this is especially important in the northern regions, where by the time the green mass is harvested, the tubers do not have time to grow yet, remaining underdeveloped. As a result of the outflow of plastic substances from the remaining part of the stems of little nutritional value, the yield of tubers increases.

For current feeding to livestock and for harvesting combined silage, part of the tubers is harvested in the fall. But usually they are dug up in the spring (or the remaining most) before the buds begin to germinate in the eyes. In pig farms, pigs are grazed on plantations in early spring for 10-15 days.

On light soils, tubers can be harvested with potato diggers or combines; on heavy soils, they are plowed.

After harvesting, cultivation or 1-2 harrowing is carried out, followed by a selection of the remaining tubers.


Jerusalem artichoke tubers are poorly stored in winter, quickly wither, and are affected by fungal diseases. Therefore, usually a small part of the tubers is harvested in the fall and used for animal feed or silage, and the main part is harvested in the spring so as not to store a large number of tubers.

To store the tubers of autumn harvest, piles, trenches or special rooms are used. For better storage, they are laid in layers of 10 cm, alternating with soil or sand.

Agrotechnics of cultivation in subsequent years

In the case of cultivation on a perennial plantation in the spring, before harvesting the tubers, fertilizers N90P90K90 are applied, every 3-4 years, 20-30 t/ha of rotted manure . Fertilizers in this case are well sealed with harvesting equipment. If crops are for grazing, fertilizers are applied after grazing is over.

When harvesting, some of the tubers are left to renew the plantation, approximately 8-10 pcs/m2. To prevent thickening of plantings, some experience in harvesting in relation to a particular variety is required in order not to leave an excess number of tubers in the soil.

Seedlings on crops of the second and subsequent years of plantation use appear somewhat earlier than in the first, but less evenly due to the difference in the depth of tubers in the soil. Before germination and after germination, harrowing is done.

When the plants reach a height of 15-20 cm, the plantings are treated with row cultivators, after the passage of which the plants remain only in the untreated places, thus marking the rows. Sometimes a different technique is used: after harvesting the tubers, the ridges are cut with a hiller cultivator, outlining the beds. During pre-emergence harrowing, the ridges are not completely leveled, in the far-off they serve as a guide for “blind” (pre-emergence) cultivations. The third way: with a plant height of 15-20 cm, bouquets are cut with a width of 10-12 cm and a row spacing of 60-70 cm using cultivators in cross directions.

Further care is the same as in the first year of use.

Plantation liquidation

On the 5-8th year of use, the plantation begins to thin out, the yield of green mass and tubers decreases. Therefore, in the last 1-2 years, annual grasses or their mixtures can be sown at the rate of 100-120 kg/ha, which contributes to a good harvest of green mass. When harvesting in June – early July of the last year of use with oversowing, the nutrients of the tubers are completely consumed, therefore, if plowing is carried out immediately after early harvesting, then Jerusalem artichoke (sunflower artichoke) shoots usually do not appear. However, for reinsurance, annual grasses can be sown on this site for another year.

If it is necessary to quickly liquidate the plantation, the above-ground mass is mowed in June-July, the tubers are dug up and autumn plowing is carried out. The following year, crops are sown on which it is planned to use herbicides.

After a full harvest, a small residual shoot is destroyed in the following ways:

  • when sowing after a ground pear, a grain crop is treated with herbicides of group 2,4-D;
  • sowing peas, pelushka, vetch, vetch-oat or other feed mixture for 1-2 years, followed by their harvesting for silage at the beginning of the formation of stolons;
  • mowing the overgrowth at the moment when the nutrient reserves in the old tubers run out, and new tubers have not yet formed, this period falls on June – early July, followed by plowing and sowing of annual grasses for green fodder and silage.

Any of these methods allows you to clean the soil well from tubers without using bare fallow.


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V.V. Kolomeichenko. Crop production / Textbook. — M.: Agrobusinesscenter, 2007. — 600 p. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Agriculture and crop production. Ed. V.S. Niklyaev. – M .: “Epic”, 2000. – 555 p.