Goji Berry (Lycium)
The Goji Berry (Lycium) is a perennial, deciduous or/and semi deciduous shrub with a wooden trunk. Its height can reach up to 4 meters, but usually limited with convenient pruning in 2 – 2.5 meters to facilitate harvest and other cultivation works.
The plant belongs to the Solanaceae family of plants, the same with well-known plants of tomato, potato, pepper and eggplant. The genus of plant is Lycium and from this can be cultivated two (2) types, Lycium Barbarum and Lycium Chinense. In Greece every merchant or supplier claims to have young plants and special varieties. The truth is that because of the thousands of plants arising from seeds but also the respective seedlings imported without certification, it is not possible to identify specific varieties. Besides the Chinese themselves, the first to cultivate Goji Berry, are unable to map the cultivated varieties in China (Sze SC, et. al., Application of SCAR (sequence characterized amplified region) analysis to authenticate Lycium barbarum (wolfberry) and its adulterants Appl Biochem Biotechnol., 2008 Sep; 52 (Pt 1): 15-21
How to choose which plant to cultivate...
For selecting a crop the first need is to check the suitability of the soil and the study of climatic conditions in the region where the plantation.
Therefore, the first thing that must be done before starting work in the field is the analysis of the soil. More specifically, you will need to take soil samples from different parts of the field (3-5) and from two levels of depth (0-30 cm and 30-60 cm). In the end, the surface samples are shuffled and a sample of surface soil is taken and also all the sample depth and taken a soil sample from 30-60 cm. The samples go in soil laboratories that conduct tests for:
- Mechanical texture
- Content of total and active CaCO3
- Organic matter content
It can grow in Sandy, loamy texture and clay soils that do not keep water. It is not very demanding in nutrients and organic matter. It grows best in areas with lots of sunshine while it tolerates partial shade.
The second important element is the winter hours freezing. Plants require cold winters to be able to give big fruit both in quantity and quality (just like it does with the fruit trees grown in Greece) . The Cold hours of an area are calculated very easily for the period from 1 November to 28 February with the simple formula below.
- For every hour of the day when the temperature is below 0oC is, recorded no hour cold.
- For every hour of the day that the temperature is 0oC to 2, 5 is recorded a 1/2 an hour cold.
- For every hour of the day that the temperature is 2, 5 – 5 is recorded 1 hour cold.
- For every hour of the day that the temperature is 5 to 7 ° c is recorded a 1/2 an hour cold.
- For every hour of the day that the temperature is above 7 ° c is not recorded any hour cold.
- For every hour of the day that the temperature is above 15oC is removed 1 hour freezing. (Chilling hours, Texas A&M University Agricultural Research & Extension Center at Overton).
The Goji Berry is estimated that needs at least 300 hours of freezing.
Planting tasks ...
Planting, where the soil and climate is suitable for growing of the plant, can be done in autumn or early in spring. The tasks for the correct installation of the Plantation are:
- Ploughing and incorporation of organic matter and ground impovements (if required).
- Cutting lines planting and planting positions on the lines. Appropriate planting distances (accepted by scientific cooperative group) for the G oji Berry is:
Distances between rows
Distances between plants (on line)
Number of plants per hectare
- Open planting holes
- Add biological preparations for plant protection and the better growth of the roots of the plant.
- Planting and support (staking) plants. Attention during planting to avoid damaging the ball of soil of the plant.
Cultivation practices ...
The Goji Berry plant after four years of intensive cultivation on a large scale shows that:
- It is a plant which stands up in conditions of lack of water with lower profit compared with crops which when is the fruit setting period are irrigated periodically. Also, the lack of water leads to the slit of the fruit after a sudden downpour.
- The Lycium species B arbarum has no natural enemies capable of harming the overground part of the plant. However there were problems with fungal diseases in plant root in soils that keep a lot of water . Kind of Lycium C hinensis has natural enemies capable of harming the overground part of the plant.However illnesses problems are not appear at the root of the plant. All issues that raised during the growing season successfully treated with biological methods.
- Required fighting weeding around the root of the plant.
- Application of preventive measures compatible with organic farming.
- Harvest the fruit every ten days with the hand. Special attention needed to transfer the fruit which should not be done in deep frames or other makeshift vessels.
- Required winter pruning of the plant the first three years after planting. Usually the plant is shaped to Cup or in cylindrical shape or horizontal wires in three levels.
Ways of trading….
This fruit doesn't sell fresh in the European market due to its sensitivity and low life. Today the most known form of selling the fruit is dried in dried fruit stores and health food stores .The Goji Berry juice is particularly known in the markets of the EU and the U.S. Finally, Goji Berry powder can be purchased from the Internet.
It is worth mentioning that organic fruit produced in the EU is not exist at the moment on the international markets.
In addition, the leaves and shoots are eaten fresh in salads.
In the Internet you can find dozens of texts which indicate that the fruit of Goji Berry is rich in antioxidants and helps in the treatment of many health problems.
The U.S. conducted surveys that showed that the juice of the fruit helps improve the mood of people suffering from depression.
The fruit of Goji Berry contains too many nutrients and more specifically contains vitamins B (B1, B2, B6) reported that contains more beta-carotene than carrots, more vitamin C than oranges, more iron than spinach, and vitamin E. also contains many dietary fibre, fats, carbohydrates, proteins and elements necessary for the human body.