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Witlof grower announces its red counterpart

Sep 10 2018 18:58

The Op Die Berg in the Koue Bokkeveld area of Ceres is a known apple, pear and onion growing region.

In the last two years and following a R7m infrastructure investment, it is also the SA headquarters for growing Witlof, the chicory leaf popular in The Netherlands and in Belgium and gaining popularity in SA.

According to Fanie van der Merwe of Bronaar Farms, Witlof is now available 12 months of the year in SA.

“If we had challenges growing Wiltof, Rooilof is every bit as temperamental and then some,” says Van der Merwe. “While Witlof can be enjoyed raw in salads and as 'spoons' for drips, as well as cooked in soups and in the traditional Belgian way with ham in a cheese sauce, Rooilof is best used in salads or as a garnish," he explains.

"We are excited about giving people all over South Africa the opportunity to enjoy it more often and to become familiar with this exceptional new low-carbohydrate vegetable which is high in fibre and delivers 10% of the recommended daily intake of Folate (B9) along with a host of health enhancing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.”

According to Van der Merwe, because of its high unit cost, Rooilof - with red veins in the leaf, is a luxury vegetable in the same way that artichokes and fresh white asparagus might be.

“Like its Witlof brother, the second stage of Rooilof also sees it being grown in the dark,” he says.

There are two reasons why Witlof and Rooilof are costly crops: the first is that only a very small percentage of seeds develop into roots suitable for the 'forcing' stage. The second reason is that Witlof and Rooilof, also known as chicory leaf and Belgian Endive, needs to be grown in a purpose-built hydroponic and light and temperature-controlled environment.

The leafy top or chicon, as it is called in the industry, and which takes 22 days to develop, is completely clean and free from soil or dirt of any sort.
 
Van der Merwe says that increasingly chefs around the world are turning to Rooilof as part of their plated presentations.

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agribusiness  |  agriculture  |  witlof
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