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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Chicory root

Other Common Names Include:

Blue sailors, succory, coffeeweed

Latin Name: Cichoriumintybusvar.sativum

Plant Family: Asteraceae

Close Relatives: Curly endive (Cichoriumendivia)

Uses and Markets: Culinary: roasted root used as a coffee substitute. Medicinal: Chicory roots contain inulin, a carbohydrate used as a non-caloric sweetener, a prebiotic and as a source of soluble fibre.  Industrial:  Inulin can be converted to ethanol for use as a biofuel, or can be used as a feedstock for chemical production.

Emerging chicory seedlingsYoung chicory plantsLate-season chicory plants in an on-farm demonstration plot (Elgin County, 2008)Chicory plant grown in flat field beds (2010)Chicory plant grown in hilled field beds (2010)Freshly harvested chicory roots (2010)Chicory roots (cultivar: Orchies), harvested in October from an on-farm demonstration plot (Elgin County, 2008)Broken chicory roots showing droplets of inulin containing juice.
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Early planting followed by cold temperatures may increase incidence of bolting, as chicory needs a cold period to induce flowering.  Commercial cultivars of Cichoriumintybusvar.sativumare available.

Propagation method

Seed at 0.5 to 1cm depth to achieve 150000 plants/ha.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Late April/early May.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

9 cm

Between row spacing

45 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting

>10°C (hot soil temperatures may inhibit seed germination).


No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions.Research from Belgium indicates chicory root production requires (/ha): 150-180 kg N, 60-80 kg P and 240-300 kg K.  Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well-drained soils.  Sandy or loam soils.

Soil pH

pH 6 on light soils, pH 7 on heavy loam soils.

Special requirements for growth habit

Boron deficiency in the soil may cause heart rot.

Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Frost sensitive (young seedlings).

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation beneficial under normal Ontario conditions. Moisture availability is critical to uniform germination of the seed.

Days to harvest

Roots are harvested in late fall prior to first frost, after which the quality of the inulin declines.

Specialized equipment

Sugar beet digger.

Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market. Inulin content is the main quality parameter for the industrial/medicinal markets.

Additional Harvest Notes


Post harvest
Special handling/curing:

Roots should be washed to remove excess soil.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 95%

Temperature: 2°C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 12-16 weeks

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: White grubs, snails/slugs

Diseases: White mould (Sclerotiniasclerotiorum), leaf blights (Botrytis, Cercospora, Alternaria, Septoria), post harvest fungal rots, aster yellows


Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Aphids

Diseases: Bacterial rots (post harvest)


*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: grubs.This crop is in crop group 1: Root and Tuber Vegetables, subgroup 1A: Root Vegetables and subgroup 1B: Root Vegetables (Except Sugar Beet). Note that Belgian endive (witloof chicory) is not in this crop group.  For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section .  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Chicory root showing insect feeding damage (2010)Chicory leaf showing Septorialactucae (2010)
Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Columbus, M. and W. White.  1995.  Research trials on chicory root production in south western Ontario (unpublished data).
  2. O’Sullivan, J., R. Grohs and R. Riddle.  2008.  Chicory herbicide efficacy and tolerance trial.  University of Guelph Research Station, Simcoe, Ontario.
  1. Baert, J.R.A. and E.J. Van Bockstaele.  1993.  Cultivation and breeding of root chicory for inulin production.  Industrial Crops and Products.  1:229-234.
  2. Patel, J.R., J.B. Patel, P.N. Upadhyay and V.P. Usadadia.  2000.  The effect of various agronomic practices on the yield of chicory (Cichoriumintybus).  J. Agr. Sci.  135:271-278.
  3. Schittenhelm, S. 2001.  Effect of sowing date on the performance of root chicory.  Eur. J. Agronomy.  15:209-220.
  4. Wilson, R.G., J.A. Smith and C.D. Yonts.  2004.  Chicory root yield and carbohydrate composition is influenced by cultivar selection, planting, and harvest dates.  Crop Sci. 44:748-752.