Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Plant Characteristics: It is considered a forb instead of a legume. It has a rosette of broad crinkled prostate leaves, deep tap root and pale purple flowers.
Establishment: Drought tolerant species, it is suited to be grown on well-drained or moderately drained soils. It could be drill planted from September to October in a prepared seed bed or grass sod at a rate of 3 to 4 lbs/ac. Make sure that grass has been suppressed at time of planting to reduce competition. Chicory seeds should be planted 0.25- to 0.5-inch deep. Chicory can also be planted in seed mixtures. For mixtures, 2 to 3 pounds of chicory along with a 2/3 of the usual seeding rate of other forages has been found to be appropriate. In mixtures which include chicory, a cool season legume is usually included because of its nitrogen fixing capability.
Fertilization: Very tolerant to acid soils (pH 5.5 or higher). Fertility needs should be determined by soil test. Nitrogen fertilizer rate of 35 lb/ac should be applied at planting at a rate of 35 to stimulate establishment. If chicory is seeded in a legume mixture, the nitrogen application at seeding can be reduced to 15 to 20 lb/ac. Chicory has a high N requirement and at least 100 to 150 lb N/ac/yr should be applied to an established stand at rates of 50 lb N/ac in early spring, early summer and early fall. Never exceed applications of 200 lb/ac/yr.
Grazing/Hay Management: Yield production occurs from March to October with highest production between April and May and yields range from 3 to 5 tons/ac. Spring-seeded chicory can be grazed after 80 to 100 days, depending on climatic conditions. It is recommended as a pasture forage with rotational grazing. A rest period of 25 to 30 days between grazing periods is best for chicory persistence and performance. A stubble height of 2 to 3 inches should remain after grazing. Mowing in recommended in late spring to remove seed stalks and maintain leaf development. Cannot be used for hay due to high water content.
Forage Quality: Very nutritive. Protein levels range from 10 to 32%, depending on maturity. Digestibility and the mineral content of chicory leaves reportedly can be as high or higher than those of alfalfa. Chicory leaves can have an IVDMD that is generally between 90 and 95%.
Varieties/Cultivars: Puna, Brow Tyne, Six Point, and Oasis.