Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When to Grow Peruvian Maca Root Seeds?

Print this articleMaca plants are root crops renowned for many health benefits. Although they are native to Peru, the starchy, radish-like plants have been successfully grown in the United States, including in California. Studies indicate there may be some flexibility as far as when to plant the seeds, which are not sensitive to daylight periods.

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Maca is a perennial herb native to the Peruvian Andes that exhibits long, edible roots ranging in color from cream to yellow. Its underground stems are also edible and can reach as deep as 10 inches. Maca is cooked and prepared in various forms and is also brewed into a hot drink or eaten fresh. Medium-size yellow tubers are most preferred for consumption; at this size they are easy to cook, and the yellow color is associated with sweeter taste. The leaves grow like a mat that lies close to the soil.

When to Grow

Since the plant is not sensitive to day length, it is likely to grow at any time of year with ideal conditions. Traditionally, maca seeds are planted in September and October, just before the rainy season begins. Typically, maca plants are perennials that flower in their second year and then die off. But under ideal conditions they can grow as annuals, finishing their life cycle in one year. In this case, the plants can survive after going to seed as long as they are not killed off by frost. Harvest takes place from May through July, with the full life cycle of the plant taking 10 to 11 months from seed to harvest.

Growth Requirements

Maca plants are not sensitive to day length but are responsive to moisture levels and temperature, preferring lots of water and cool temperatures. Maca is highly tolerant of frost and freezing temperatures and can survive in its high-altitude native habitat in temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. It naturally grows in acidic soil. Cultivation experiments at the University of California at Davis, far from its native Peru, found that the plant grew well so long as sufficient irrigation was provided. Commercial production is spreading across the globe as information spreads about the medicinal benefits of the plant.


Maca has long been considered an aphrodisiac and fertility booster. It is said to enhance the sexual drive of males and improve female fertility. These are important functions in the high-altitude environment where the plant was originally cultivated, as fertility tends to decrease under high-altitude conditions. It is also purported to cure rheumatism, improve stamina and memory, fight AIDs and cancer, in addition to a many other benefits. Peruvians in the Andean region long relied on the crop as a vital source of nutrition, thanks to its high levels of amino acids, iron and calcium.

References"Andean Roots and Tubers: Ahipa, Arracacha, Maca and Yacon"; Michael Hermann, et al.; December 1997Read Next:

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