The Murcian artichoke is basically grown in Campo de Cartagena and the Guadalentín Valley.
Some 7,500 hectares of artichoke destined for fresh consumption, others will be preserved and some transformed.
The Murcian artichoke is mostly of the Blanca de Tudela variety, with green heads and peg planting, but it tends to change to hybrid seed cultivation, with the idea of gradually abandoning the previous.
These changes are already taking place because those for export are larger than those required by the national market, where they are preferred smaller and ready for fresh consumption and in this the hybrid them gives greater play.
At the plant level, it is not necessary to sow, it can be bought in root ball.
The artichoke plant usually lasts a couple of years, even three, but the seed is annual, with the benefit of cleaning the farm every year and regenerating the land.
Characteristics of the Murcian artichoke
The main characteristic of this plant is that the flower is eaten. The plant throws a kind of long stems called shoots, with fewer and fewer leaves, from which a tender and edible flower emerges.
If we look closely at one of these artichoke flowers we can see its growth following the shape of the Archimedean spiral . Each of the leaves of the flower are called leathery bracts and their growth from the inside out follows a fixed distribution such that two consecutive leaves form an angle of 137.5 degrees and related to the golden ratio .
This means that two leaves or bracts never overlap and thus all can receive the same amount of sunlight . It is not an exclusive growth of the artichoke. It is a normal growth of some flowers such as roses, also of some plants and the arrangement of the leaves.
The angle of 137.5 degrees is what sheet 1 makes with sheet 2, then sheet 2 with 3, and so on.
The golden ratio or divine proportion is:
a / b = (a + b) / a = golden number = 1.618….
If we make a circle of length «a + b», the angle that corresponds to length «b» is 137.5 degrees and is known as golden angle .
Ideal climate for the Murcian artichoke
The climate of this region, especially the south, is ideal for growing artichokes. It is planted in summer and in this first phase it needs watering, as we will discuss later.
At harvest time you need cool nights, free from frost and a good daytime temperature. Moderate cold induces flowering, which is the most important thing in its cultivation. The very hot and dry climate causes the flower to open and the edible part loses quality. They also become bitter and bad looking.
With all these factors, irrigation control is essential.
Ideal irrigation for the Murcian artichoke
I : frequent and abundant watering during the rooting and growth period of the plant.
II : when it begins to flower, the absence of humidity at this time creates a bad fruit, but it should not be excessive.
III : the fruit begins to grow, at this time it needs continuous watering because the leaves absorb a lot of water. If it is deficient, the fruit is damaged in its size and quality.
Too much water is also harmful because the roots can rot.
Plantae humidity sensors and probes control artichoke irrigation
In relation to the previous points, Plantae has begun to work in the Valladolises region with the help of Partner Campoés. 4 humidity and temperature sensors were installed measuring 20cm and 60cm deep , with readings every 4 hours.
The objective is to present data in real time to control the humidity curves and optimize irrigation in such a delicate crop. Below are pictures of the installation.