Wasabi Culture
Answered by: Rick Miller
Question from: Daniel
Posted on: February 11, 2009

I have no knowledge at all about wasabi, I just learn that wasabi can be cultured outside Japan. May you tell me how to start a small wasabi farm as trial? How much will it cost to set wasabi farm using greenhouse?

Wasabi is the Japanese word for Horse Radish Root. It is grown extensively throughout the world, often used in mustard to make them "hot" or "Chinese mustard."

Horseradish is one of those crops which has a number of botanical names. It can be Armoracia rusticana, A. lapathifolia, Cochlearia armoracla, C. rusticana, Rorippa armoracia, or Radicula armoracia, depending on which botanical authority used.

The plant, which attains two feet in height and has large, elongated, serrated, and wavy-edged leaves. Any piece of root left in the ground is capable of developing rootlets and shoots. This means that harvesting the crop in the Autumn will leave enough rootlets to spread that following Spring.

It is considered a “cross-over” between a vegetable and a condiment (spice), having many different markets and uses, including culinary, medicinal, and even cosmetic. The first Spring leaf is often mixed with other salad greens, or even boiled with other leafy vegetables. It’s too strong by itself, but combines well with other foods.

The root, always served fresh or dried, is best known for its use as a condiment. It functions as a chief ingredient in tangy sauces for fish, meat, foul, or vegetables. It also improves cocktail sauces, mustard sauces, and hollandaise. High in vitamin C, the root was also used in the past as a cure for scurvy. One recipe still uses it to relieve whooping cough in children.

Horseradish, which is best planted early for a good fall crop, needs to be replanted every few years as its quality deteriorates. Root cuttings, called “thongs,” can be 6 to 7 inches long and may or may not include a bud. Plant them 12 to 15 inches deep and 12 to 18 inches apart.

Harvest the roots in the Autumn of their third year, store them in damp sand or the refrigerator for the fresh market. Dehydrating the root does loose a significant amount of the essentail oil, maybe as much as 12% by weight. Best growing conditions include such colder regions as Illinois and Saskatchewan, where it is frequently cultivated for larger productions.

More than likely, the field will continue to show horseradish, as getting all of the root from the ground is almost impossible. Resetting a field will need up to 400 lbs. of new rootstock per acre (every third year). COG, of course, is becoming more and more important in the consideration of marketing. It possible, this would be preferred for better returns on your effort.

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