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In this article, we are bringing you everything you need to know about growing, sowing, planting, maintaining, harvesting, soil, disease and more about poppies. Whether you want to plant poppy in your homes, gardens or on your farm, this is the article for you.
Agroecological conditions for poppy growing
|Temperature||The minimum temperature for seed germination 36-37,5 °F, optimum about 68 °F. Plants are damaged if the temperature drops to 19 °F.|
|Light||Poppy needs a lot of light and belongs to long-day plants.|
|Water||The greatest need for water poppy has at a time of intensive growth. At the time of flowering and ripening, there is less need for water.|
|Soil||Poppy grows best in fertile, deep, well-structured soils with a favorable water-air regime.|
- Poppy sowing and planting
- Poppy cultivation and crop maintenance
- Diseases and pests
- Poppy harvesting and storage
- Poppy in the kitchen
- Medicinal properties of poppy seeds
- Poppy history
The poppy is a plant from the Papaveroideae of the family Papaveraceae, the most well-known variety being common and breadseed, or opium poppy. The poppy has a herbaceous, erect stem. The stem is smooth and covered with a wax coating, can be up to 60 inches high, but is easily brittle. The poppy has a poorly developed and spindle root that does not penetrate deep into the soil. Common poppy blooms with red flowers, while breadseed or opium poppies have white and purple flowers. There is another species, the Welsh poppy, and it has yellow flowers and the seed drains through the slits on the sides, not from above through the holes. The lower poppy leaves grow on the petioles, while the upper ones do not have petioles, so they wrap around the stem. Poppy seeds are placed in a pellet. The opium poppy is most commonly used for growing.
The poppy is a plant from the poppy family, the most well-known species being field and garden, or opium poppy. The poppy has a herbaceous, erect stem. The stem is smooth and covered with a wax coating, can be up to a meter and a half high, but is easily brittle. The poppy has a poorly developed and spindle that does not penetrate deep into the soil. The poppy flowers bloom with red flowers, while garden or opium poppies have white and purple flowers. There is another species, the Welsh poppy, and it has yellow flowers and the seed drains through the slits on the sides, not from above through the holes. The lower poppy leaves grow on the petioles, while the upper ones do not have petioles, so they wrap around the stem. Poppy seeds are placed in a pellet. The opium poppy is most commonly used for growing.
Poppy cultivation is more successful in warmer regions because poppy grown under such conditions has the strongest opium properties, and the more north it is grown, the alkaloid content decreases.
Poppy sowing and planting
Well-structured and deep soils with the favorable water-air regimes are suitable for poppy planting and cultivation. Such are sandy-clay soils and alluvial deposits. The optimum pH value of poppy soils is 6.5 – 7.2. Poppies are best planted on soil that has previously been grown with crops such as grain legumes, cereals, or potatoes. After sowing the aforementioned precursors, the soil should be well plowed.
Proper soil preparation is quite important, as it might otherwise happen that the plants do not sprout. Poppies grow best on rich soils, so if you plan to grow on slightly poorer soils, fertilizers need to be added. Nitrogen in the amount of 90 lb/ac, phosphorus in the amount of 110 lb/ac and the same amount of potassium is added to the average fertile soils. Half of the potassium and phosphorus fertilizers and 20% of said nitrogen are added during basic tillage and the remainder during pre-sowing soil preparation.
The exact time and number of plowing depend on the precrops grown on that land. In the case of early prerequisites, three plowings can be done, after them two plowings and one more plowing later. The soil is plowed to a depth of 10 to 12 inches.
The parcel on which the poppy will be grown should first be cleared of weeds and then chop up and flattened. Planting is done during the fall, and the seeds are sown shallow, immediately on the surface (at 0.4 – 0.8 inches deep). The row spacing should be about 20 inches, while the plants should be about 4 inches apart. The sowing of poppy seeds is done in early spring, at the latest by early April. The depth of sowing is 0.4 – 0.6 inches, and there should be 10 to 12 inches between the rows.
Poppies must be grown in a crop rotation to reduce the risk of illness from various diseases, as well as the occurrence of pests. It is sensitive in the emergence phase so it should be planted in moist rather than dry soil.
For sowing, seeds from large and healthy leaves, collected in the field, are used. Seed purity should not be below 98% and germination below 80%. Seeds collected in the previous harvest have the best germination, while those over three years old should not be used. Poppy seeds are treated with insecticides and fungicides that have been registered for that purpose before sowing.
For growing poppies in the garden, the seeds need only be laid in the ground without being covered with soil, and the distance between the seeds should be about 8 inches. Poppies can also be grown in pots and should be kept in sunny places, protected from strong winds. A mixture of peat, sand, and bark is suitable for growing in pots.
Poppy cultivation and crop maintenance
Poppies from sowing to flowering do not require a large amount of heat, but this need grows from the beginning of flowering to maturation. In addition to plenty of heat, more light is needed at this stage. The minimum temperature at which poppy seeds will germinate is 36 °F, while the optimal temperature for germination is 68 °F. The lowest temperature this plant can tolerate is 19 °F.
As for water, the poppy needs more water by the beginning of flowering, and the need for water declines after flowering.
Poppy plantations should be kept clear of weeds during the growing season. The poppy grows very slowly, so weeds can cause particularly great damage at the beginning of the growing season. Registered herbicides based on fluroxypyr, cycloxides or mesotrione are used for suppression and are applied after germination.
Poppies diseases and pests
The most common diseases affecting poppies are common pinmould, black poppy spots, and water mold. Those are all a fungal disease, and the mycelium of these fungi penetrates the buds and diminishes the quality of the seeds. Diseases also affect the color and taste of the seed, so such infected seeds cannot be completely separated and have a different color.
Pests that can occur in poppy cultivation are mole crickets, agriotes, agrotis and the like, and they can cause the most damage to young plants. Poppy aphids, poppy flies and poppies weevils may occur during vegetation. In the event of major attacks and the risk of serious damage, authorized insecticides are used.
Poppy harvesting and storage
Poppies are harvested when the fruits reach biological and technological maturity. Poppy is ready to harvest when the quivers are hard, dry, dark yellow in color and seeds can be heard when we shake them. It is important for the seeds to be fully ripe and dry during harvest, because if harvested prematurely, it may develop mold during storage. The percentage of moisture in the seed should be about 10%.
Poppy harvesting takes place in our area at the end of July, with a grain harvester that needs special adaptation.
To obtain opium, poppy leaves are cut with special knives approximately 20 days after flowering, that is when the leaves turn yellow. Cuttings should be done in the afternoon. At the same time, the liquid leaves quiver, which is initially whitish, and then begins to thicken and become darker in color. The resulting mass is scraped the next day in the morning and made from it small lumps lining the poppy leaves and drought. The quivers can be cut several times, and when fully ripened they produce seeds.
Poppy seeds need to be cleaned well before storage, even from the smallest contamination, so that the purity is 99.8 percent. Due to its high oil concentration, poppy seeds are easily perishable. To prevent deterioration, the seeds should be cleaned and dried immediately after harvesting. The percentage of moisture in the seed stored should not exceed 8%. The poppy is stored in airy and dry warehouses, with no other odors. From time to time it is necessary to check the seed to prevent it from becoming rancid or to prevent mold.
Poppy in the kitchen
Poppy is widely used in culinary arts, and dried seeds are used for consumption because it does not contain alkaloids and does not have opiate properties. Poppy seeds also produce oil that is of good quality and can serve as a substitute for olive oil.
Poppy seeds are mainly used for the preparation of sweets and cakes, which are most often gibanica, poppy cake, various sweet pies and the like. Poppy seeds are sprinkled with bread and biscuits and can be added to a variety of savory dishes. They are interesting in combination with pasta sauces and can be added to salad dressings, sandwich spreads or sprinkled over focaccia.
Poppy goes well with smoked salmon, cooked chicken, spring onions, asparagus, and cooked potatoes.
Medicinal properties of poppy seeds
Poppy is used in the production of morphine and codeine, so it is best known for its sedative effect. However, it has more positive properties. In addition to helping to relax muscles and reduce stomach cramps and pain, it is also great for stimulating expectoration.
Poppy seeds are rich in antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids, mostly linoleic (omega-6) and oleic acid. Thanks to omega-6 fatty acids, poppy seeds protect the cardiovascular system, prevent blood clotting, help regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis.
Poppy seeds are an excellent source of folic acid, riboflavin, thiamine, pyridoxine, and vitamin E. They contain manganese, copper, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc. There are about 30.8 grams of fatty acids, 10 grams of dietary fiber and 89 milligrams of phytosterol in 100 grams of poppy seeds.
Poppy is a plant that is widespread throughout the world and has been used for thousands of years for eating and medicine. It is grown for nutritional and medical purposes as well as for industrial applications because, for example, the oil obtained from poppy seeds is used in the production of paints and varnishes and in the manufacture of soap.
Since it gives plenty of seeds, it is also bound to fertility. It was very important to the Romans, and this is evidenced by the fact that they called it a sacred plant. The Egyptians baked it before use because its aromaticity became more pronounced. The flower of this plant was a favorite love flower for the Egyptians, so bouquets of blooming or dried poppy flowers were given to lovers.
The bright red poppy flowers are a symbol of blood spilled as well as love fires. Due to his narcotic effect, poppies have been associated with witchcraft and mysterious powers in the past, so it has played a significant role in various rituals. In the Middle Ages, it was used to prepare beverages for sleep.