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Chicory Offers Flavor, Health Benefits
Chicory is not an easy crop to grow, but there is good demand for it as a coffee additive, and because of its health benefits. It’s rich in inulin, a beneficial prebiotic, says Dave Hergert, who has been growing and processing chicory for 22 years through his businesses.
Cultivated chicory is not the same as the forage chicory that grows wild in many areas, he explains. Cultivated chicory starts as seeds that look similar to dandelion seeds that are planted in April and mature into roots ready to harvest in October.
“It looks like sugar beets. But once it’s out of the ground we only have 48 hours to wash, slice and dry it,” Hergert explains.
“Weed competition is a big issue. It takes a lot of management,” he adds, noting that the crop requires mechanical cultivation with only one herbicide for broadleaf weeds.
Chicory doesn’t tolerate hot climates, so it does well in the region’s 4,000-ft. elevation. Hergert provides all the equipment for planting and harvesting and invested in an expensive drying plant. Once dried, the chicory can be ground and roasted for a coffee additive or blend or ground for flour to use in a variety of foods.
Inulin from chicory stays in the bowel and enhances digestion and promotes gut health for both humans and dogs. Some people use chicory for other health issues.
Most of Hergert’s chicory is sold wholesale to dog food, coffee and tea companies.
“It has a bold, rich flavor without the caffeine,” Hergert says.
Consumers can purchase roasted chicory by the pound ($7 plus shipping) through the business’ website. Chicory flour is also available for the same price, and orders are shipped with recipes.
Europeans and Americans who enjoy gourmet coffee have been blending coffee with chicory for generations, Hergert says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Chicory USA, 1424 Ave. B, Scottsbluff, Neb. 69361 (ph 308-632-2315; hm@hergertmilling.com; www.chicoryusa.com).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #1