Sunday, 28 February 2010

Oca Yield – Keeping up with Andean Peasants?

How do you judge if you are obtaining a reasonable yield from your Oca?  With most crops you can look over the fence to our neighbour's garden to see how you measure up, but none of my neighbours grow Oca.

So having looked at various quoted Oca yields (see down the page), I've done some calculations to allow comparison in garden-scale cultivation, based on growing on 4ft wide beds with 1ft wide paths. This means that each linear meter of bed occupies just over 1.5sq.m including access paths.

From a one-meter-run of 4ft wide bed, if you produce:-

  • 14.55kg – You equal the world-wide highest claimed oca yield (that I can find).
  • >6kg – You are up there with the white-coated men using select varieties, unlimited NPK, pesticides, irrigation, and often undisclosed, probably non-sustainable methods.
  • 3 - 6kg – You match modern commercial producers, e.g. in New Zealand.
  • 1.5 - 3kg – Good levels for traditional Andean peasant methods.
  • 0.75 - 1.5kg – A poor effort for a peasant.
  • < 0.75kg – Perhaps you are more cut out to be a hunter-gatherer.
This is quite encouraging to me, given that the above figures are for monocultures. I have been able to more than match the best peasants, but within a polyculture, so obtaining as a bonus, a similar weight of tomatoes, and a fair quantity of fast-maturing salad crops from the same ground.
With a monoculture system, planted at 6 plants per meter of bed, I'm confident I could achieve 6kg. But man cannot live by Oca alone.

Average 7-10, maximum 40 tonnes/hectare. 

5 tonnes/hectare (traditional Andean husbandry)
7-10 tonnes/hectare (commercial yields, Peru and New Zealand)
40 tonnes/hectare (experimental conditions)

Development of New Oca Lines in New Zealand. R.J. Martin, G.P. Savage, B.Deo, S.R.P. Hallow, P.J. Fletcher says:
Up to 20 tonnes/hectare (experimental).

Neglected Crops 1492 from a different perspective. J.E. Hernandez Bermejo, J. Leon says:
3-12 tonnes/hectare (average production, Peru). 97 tonnes/hectare (experimental selections and treatments)

Andean Tubers, C. Arizu and M. Tapia (CIP, Lima, Peru) says:
40-50 tonnes/hectare.

(1 tonne/ha = 0.1 kg/sq.m)

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