Český kmín (Czech caraway)
Czech Republic; on loamy and sand-clay soils with a clay content of 10 % to 30 % and diverse levels of gravel admixture. According to the classification of soils, this includes eutrophic brown soils, brown soils with crude soils, brown soils with podzols on ledge deposits, acid brown soils and heavy acid brown soils.
Method of production:
Several specific requirements are observed by caraway growers, thus achieving very good results. Long experience in traditional growing is essential. The basic requirement for successful Český kmín growing is a suitable soil, i.e. loamy and sand-clay soils with a clay content of 10 % to 30 % and diverse levels of gravel admixture. According to the classification of soils, this includes eutrophic brown soils, brown soils with crude soils, brown soils with podzols on ledge deposits, acid brown soils and heavy acid brown soils.
Further conditions include:
1. selection of suitable land following a suitable preceding crop;
2. sowing of certified registered variety seed;
3. sowing of 2,25 million germinant seeds per hectare;
4. direct sowing or sowing in covering crops by 20 June;
5. fertilisation by mineral fertilisers, depending on the needs for growth and soil nutrient reserves;
6. plant protection treatment against weeds;
7. use of recent findings on disease/pest control;
8. harvest at the time of optimum maturity;
9. post-harvest crop treatment and seasoning for traders;
10. assessment of crop quality based on its physical, chemical and biological properties.
The prerequisite for top-quality Český kmín is just detailed compliance with these basic conditions.
Český kmín has been grown since the first half of the 19th century in field conditions in the Czech Republic under the name of several major growers, such as Havelka, Hokeš and others. Scientific improvement has been a tradition since 1910. As a result, the Moravský variety, licensed in 1941, and the Český variety, licensed in 1952, were developed from regional varieties, but yielded small seeds. The Ekonom variety, licensed in 1964, had bigger seeds and achieved greater success. All these varieties were deciduous and unsuitable for machine harvest and were therefore gradually withdrawn from production. A major change came with the licensing of the Rekord variety, which gives a high yield with a high aromatic oil content and is resistant to drop-out of seeds in the course of maturing and harvesting. This variety was followed by licensing of two others: Prochan (1990) and Kepron (1994). These three form a line of non-deciduous varieties offering high quality and yield and a high essence content. This intensive improvement of the product has also led to intensive involvement by scientists and researchers. Consequently, staff from research institutes and agricultural universities have been involved in this field as well.
The Czech Republic has the specific natural and soil conditions which have allowed a 150-year tradition of caraway growing in field conditions. Caraway is grown on loamy and sand-clay soils with a clay content of 10 % to 30 % and diverse levels of gravel content. Such soils offer the capillary/gravitational water supply meeting the needs of caraway, which demands sufficient rainfall during the period of intensive development of the roots and leaf rosette in the first year and in the period from earing-up to flowering in the second year. The climate of the Czech highlands, marking the transition from maritime to continental conditions, is fully compatible with high-quality caraway growing. These conditions, especially the temperatures and rainfall during the year, differ from the climate in other countries. The conditions for caraway growing in the Czech Republic are more favourable than in areas with a continental climate as the rate of development of the crop is lower due to lower temperatures and lower probability of short-term droughts. The main differences between the Czech and maritime climates lie in the nature of the winter season (the rainfall reserves are higher when the spring comes) and also in the fact that short-term droughts are more probable due to lower rainfall in the summer. Together, these soil and climate conditions, combined with the long tradition, experience and sophisticated methods in the field of caraway growing in the Czech Republic, have an impact on the specific properties of Český kmín, especially in the form of high yields of caraway seeds with a high aromatic oil content.
The seeds are harvested at a higher average degree of maturity. However, the contents of the caraway essence, particularly its aromatic components, are quite specific. The main aromatic component in the caraway grown in the specified areas is carvone. Compared with other regions, where D-limonene prevails in the aromas, the carvone content here is higher than 50 % and usually around 60 %. This carvone content is the most valuable component of the quality of the aromatic caraway oil. Carvone has healing, antiseptic and retardation effects which are used in a number of industries. The Czech Codex contains ‘Carvi etheroleum’, a national item covering the quality of caraway essence produced by distillation with vapour, where the desired carvone content is at least 50 %. To achieve this value, raw material (caraway seeds) with an even higher carvone content is essential. In Český kmín this value is approximately 20 % higher. That is why the caraway from these areas — Český kmín — is so highly appreciated and in such demand. The majority of the caraway produced is exported to both continental and seaside areas.
Reference: The European Commission