The planting starting date may vary, it depends directly of rainwater, because this is the only irrigation system we can use as there are no wells or aquifers near from where to extract it. Normally the rain season takes about 4 months and there are showers almost every day. It begins in June, so we start planting them then, as before this date the soil has not humidity enough to introduce the seeds.
Planting is normally done on flat soils where ridges to favour the coming irrigations have previously been done. Separation between ridges is approximately 60 cms. and seeds are planted manually. Distance between seeds may vary from 15 to 20 cms. and seeding depth is around 8 cms. The normal ratio of Tigernuts used as seed for planting is around 200/300 Kgs. tubers/ha.
Cares on cultivation
Once the planting has finished and the seed started to receive the irrigation we will see the early sprouts of Tigernuts. It’s important that rainwater does properly, thing that is getting more difficult time alter time because of the global warming, for the tubers to grow properly.
It’s really important to look after the weed that could appear during the growing, as it will try to absorb the soil’s nutrients and could cause a reduction on Tigernuts size. It’s convenient to clean up weekly the weeds from the fields.
We must fertilize the fields properly before planting by using natural fertilizers such as manure or compost. Doing this way the soil will recuperate its nutrients. Fertilization will be more effective if we keep on fertilizing the fields once the plant cycle has started, as we will regenerate the soil at the same time tuber is consuming nutrients.
One of the most important things is to plan a crop rotation plan, in fact at Tigernuts Traders, S.L we have our own crop rotation plan for the next four years, which will ensure soil fertility for future crops and will reduce drastically plagues risk on our crops. In the crop rotation plans is very important introduce native crops and leguminous plants, that will help us fixing nitrogen to soil. Also we can use the leguminous plants to produce green manure (fast vegetation crops, chopped and buried in the same place where have been sown which are destined to improve the physical properties of the soil, enrich itself with a “new fast evolution hummus”, introduces other physiologically active substances and activates the soil microbial population) in some plots.
The plant dies
When the plant arrives to the end of its cycle, approximately 5 months after its planting, the plant dies and all the plots remain completely dry. Sickle in hand we are cutting the tuft, using it for producing our own compost or for using it in the roofs of the nearby village huts, as formerly was done in Valencia with the typical “barraca”.
Once all the plots are completely cleaned it’s the moment to harvest them. We decided to do this process completely manual, avoiding any eventual dump thrown by mechanical machinery and promoting works in the surroundings of the farm. Grains are collected from the soil using hoes, taking the Tigernuts afterwards to the warehouse where a prior cleaning is done to separate tubers from dust.
Washing process is done just after collecting the goods. In this process we separate definitely dust from correct grains. Throughout this process we also eliminate other unwanted elements, such as small stones, sticks and even empty Tigernuts.
The washing process is done by big washing-machines that can process around 4.000 Kgs/hour and the process can last up to 2 hours.
At Tigernuts Traders, S.L we have developed a system that can recycle the washing water without using any type of toxica gent, so we reduce massive consumption of this valued asset drastically.
We consider this is possibly the most important process to do on the product, as through this process we will confer the final properties of the Tigernuts. Tigernuts are almost starch and water after harvesting and we should transform these ingredients to convert them in fats; this component will be the one to give Tigernuts its characteristic taste.
This is a completely natural process where Tigernuts are sundried. In this process is necessary to turn Tigernuts daily to obtain a uniform dry up. It’s always recommended to have an air flow which helps to reduce the humidity level on the product. Even doing all these things the process can last up to one month.