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J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Mar 8;54(5):1772-8.

Influence of cultivation site on sesquiterpene lactone composition of forage chicory (Cichorium intybus L.).

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Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1224 Airport Road, Beaver, West Virginia 25813-9423, USA.


The forage potential of chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) has not been realized in southern West Virginia (WV) because ruminants are reluctant to consume the herbage. Chicory contains bitter sesquiterpene lactones that can adversely impact palatability. This study was undertaken to determine whether sesquiterpene lactone concentrations in chicory grown in southern WV differ from those in chicory grown in central Pennsylvania (PA) where chicory is grazed readily. Herbage was collected in 1997 and 1998 from cultivars Grasslands Puna (Puna), INIA le Lacerta (Lacerta), and Forage Feast established at research sites near State College, PA, and Beckley, WV. The total concentration of sesquiterpene lactones in WV-grown cultivars was 0.58% (dry matter basis) in Puna, 0.59% in Lacerta, and 0.79% in Forage Feast in 1997 and ranged from 1.03 (Lacerta) to 1.52% (Forage Feast) in 1998. In PA-grown cultivars, sesquiterpene lactones represented 0.16 (Puna), 0.18 (Lacerta), and 0.27% (Forage Feast) of the forage dry matter in 1997 and ranged from 0.32 (Lacerta) to 0.55% (Forage Feast) in 1998. Concentrations of lactucin, lactucopicrin, and total sesquiterpene lactones in Forage Feast exceeded those in the other cultivars grown at the same site. The lowest concentrations of lactucopicrin and total sesquiterpene lactones observed among WV-grown cultivars were higher (2-fold or more) than the highest concentrations present in cultivars grown the same year in PA. Mineral analyses of soils from the two cultivation sites indicate that P availability may influence sesquiterpene lactone composition of chicory herbage. Results provide a foundation for future studies of environmental effects on sesquiterpene lactone composition and palatability of chicory herbage.

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