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The original habitat of yacon is the Andean highlands, from southern Colombia to northern Argentina, between 1,800 and 2,800 meters over sea level, generally in tropical mountain climates. However, the plant thrives in a range of climates and soils from sea level to 3,500 meters altitude.

The land where our Yacon is grown is 100% Certified Organic by Skal International under NOP, EU and JAS Standards.

Growing and Handling the Yacon Root

Yacon grows well in both temperate and subtropical regions (0-24°C) at altitudes between 800 and 2800 meters above sea level. Yacon is adaptable and insensitive to photoperiod or day length. Yacon can be harvested throughout the year in areas that are frost free and are well irrigated. In the high Andes only one growing season is possible and planting is done at the beginning of the rainy season. In the high jungle region of Peru, planting can take place at any time of year.

In comparison with other roots yacon is very susceptible to physical damage both during harvest and transportation. The roots are joined to the plant via a fibrous crown that is sometimes hard to break. During harvest it is necessary to pull the roots to separate them from the rest of the plant, sometimes causing them to rupture. If the root ruptures there is a risk of microbiological contamination at the site of damage. It is much better to use a knife at the time of harvest to cut the root from the crown, thus maintaining the integrity of the root.

Roots are susceptible to damage from impacts or are often exposed to larges loads during harvest, packaging and transportation. Impact to the root should be avoided at all times. Roots should be packed into containers that support the weight that is placed on top of them. Some protection is provided by soil that adheres to the recently harvested root surface which protects it against physical damage as well as dehydration. For this reason it is recommended that the soil is not washed from the yacon until it has reached its destination.

Studies have demonstrated that soon after harvesting a rapid transformation of the composition of the sugars occurs: the FOS are hydrolyzed by an enzyme called fructan hydrolase into simple sugars (i.e. fructose, glucose and sucrose). After a week of storage at room temperature, approximately 30 – 40% of the FOS will have transformed into simple sugars (Graefeet al., 2004). This process is much slower if the roots are kept at lower temperatures under refrigeration (Asami et al., 1991). Storage at low temperature also reduces losses from rotting and general deterioration.
Roots can lose up to 40% of their weight in one week purely though dehydration into the atmosphere. This represents a saving of approximately 40% in energy needed to evaporate the water from the roots to produce syrup, however, a large quantity of FOS is broken down into simple sugars. Special care must be taken to preserve its valuable content.

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