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Rojo produces clusters of yellow roots. You might wonder why it is named rojo then. I find that a little odd, myself. The leaves and stems have red markings as opposed to pure green foliage on the variety Blanco. The yellow roots are quite attractive, but we find that this one generally yields a bit less than blanco and its leaves sometimes produce a little mouth irritation if you eat them. Flowers are purple and produced abundantly in early spring if you can keep the plants alive over winter. Rojo flowers here about a month earlier than Blanco, so it probably has a proportionally greater critical photoperiod for flowering. Rojo yields a better crop in its second or third year; it is a little slower to develop than Blanco.
We offer both caudices (lower segments of stem) and seeds. We can’t keep the plants going to produce seed in years with very cold winters, but caudices are fall harvested, so are a much more reliable crop. Seeds are a bit expensive because they are produced individually over a long period of time and are kind of a pain to collect.
Mauka caudices are lower segments of stem with dormant buds. You plant them a couple of inches deep and they quickly root and sprout. We have been testing sending caudices through the mail for a couple of years and have found that they are pretty hardy and survive even long shipping times. The main problem is that they may begin active growth if the conditions are warm while they are in the mail. If they don’t sprout, they can be kept in the refrigerator for months before planting. If they have sprouted, then it is generally best to pot them until they can be planted out. Unlike growing from seed, a caudex generally produces a full size plant in the first year.
Mauka is one of the few Andean root crops that is true breeding. The seeds are easy to start and have a very high germination rate. It is very uncommon to see germination at less than 90 percent. Plants grown from seed should be harvested in their second year unless you have a very long growing season.