Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dandelion Farming Yields

After digging pretty deep I have found some useful numbers for dandelion farming.

For growing Dandelions for Fresh or Dry Leaves, the plants are spaced about the same as corn, 29,000 per acre. Interesting coincidence. The yields are highly variable and depend on regular moisture, much the same as corn, but drip irrigation has great yields at up to 35 g dry/plant,
(75% drying loss) which calcs back to about 8000 lbs fresh/ac. Hybrid Corn yields ave 155 bu/ac = 8650 lbs/ac.

http://www.hfrr.k-state.edu/DesktopModules/ViewDocument.aspx?DocumentID=1054

http://www.richters.com/newdisplay.cgi?page=./QandA/Commercial/20050523-1.html&cart_id=81.1496

Even dry farming dandelions has 5g/plant which is over 1000 lbs of fresh greens per acre.

Variables also include herbivore losses, especially rabbits and most wildlife will move right in.
This may add alot to fencing costs vs corn that doesn't need fencing because wildlife doesn't like it. Dandelions have far lower pest problems than corn, although a little pesticide is used in California since dandelion crops are often close to other pest infested crops.

Fresh Dandelion prices are quite good, although the market is tiny compared to corn. Dry prices for Dandelions (dry has a much larger feed market) yield about twice the value per acre as corn, over $1000/ac. Then there are values that are quite good for Dry Dandelion Root, which is for beverage uses, which can be harvested in the second year. Plus good honey yield bonus.

Seed costs are an important aspect of corn production, and hybrid corn must be purchased each year and has been increasing. Dandelion Seed costs are quite high but they are pretty much a once in a lifetime purchase, and if they can be harvested by vacumming from a site where they are not wanted the cost can be very low.

But I think that the real values of Dandelion Farming come when these numbers are taken a step further, to calculating the nutritional yields per acre, which is something I have rarely seen taken into consideration, except by wise old livestock ranchers. It is a factor in calculating feed lot operations and so good numbers are available from a number of sources. See pervious blog for comparison of Fresh Dandelions, Corn and Soy nutrition. Comparisons of fresh greens with grains or beans is somewhat apples and oranges, but its worth using to calculate real yields.

100 grams of corn vs dandelion

cals 365 - 45
fat cals 40 - 6
fat cals/cal 11% - 13.3%
chol 0 - 0
carbs 74 - 7
fiber 7 - 4
sugar 1 - 4
protein 9 - 3
prot/cals 2.5% - 6.66%
vitamin A 4% - 98%
vitamin C 0% - 58%
Ca 1% - 19%
Fe 15% -17%
Na 35mg - 76mg

So we see that there are some amazing differences, especially vitamins. This table really doesn't do Dandelions justice, as it is also very rich in all the others like niacin which is missing from corn and which led to pellagra deficiencies. It also doesn't show all the rest of the mineral richness of Dandelions.

First lets take Vitamin A Information, which is somewhat complicated but worthy of study

http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamina.asp

After some calculations I came up with 36,320 Daily Adult Doses per Acre, which calcs to 363,200 kid doses (@~500 mcg/day) per acre !

So on to more yield and value analysis...
to be continued

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