Caraway (Carum carvi L.) fruits oe seeds contain 3-6 % of essential oil. Caraway is biennial, flowering plant and is cultivated due to its aromatic properties. Caraway seeds are widely used as medical agent, seasoning and also in cosmetology. Caraway which is grown in Latvia contain up to three times more aromatic oils (carvone and limonene) than in the South. Seeds are slightly incurved, 3-6 mm long, light brown with more lighter strips, and, rubbing them a bit, they evolve a very strong aroma.
Not strictly demanding for warmth, biennial plant, grows well in humus-rich soils of light granulometric composition which are sufficiently with moisture. Caraway grows less well in acidic soils; in peaty soils it should not be sown at all; the optimal pH level is from 6,0 to 6,5.
The best predecessors are arable crops, cereals. Caraway must no be sown in repeated cornfields, after grain legumes and after oil plants (stem rot). The most desirable period between sowing of caraway in one field is not more often than 5 years. Since caraway is threshed early they are good predecessors for winter crops and interplanted crops.
The biological feature of caraway is long lasting germination of seeds. The first sprouts appear in 2-3 weeks, the first real leaves after germination appear only after two weeks. It is sown in late April, early May. In the beginning of vegetation development is very slowly. Seeding amount is 15-20 kg/ha, seeding depth, depending on soil humidity and processing quality, is 1 to 3 centimeters. Rectangular sowing with grain seeder, it is recommended to level soil with a roller after seeding. If, nevertheless, the sowing fails due to drought, it is possible to oversow even till the end of June, trying to wait until optimal weather conditions.
It has to be sown in soils not contaminated by perennial weeds. One must use weed-free seeds, purity is 99.5% and higher. Good results in weed control can be reached by cutting them down several times above the main crop in the year of sowing.
Caraway has a carrot-like strong root system reaching up to 30 cm what is very important in periods of drought. Before hibernation caraway roots must be 5–7 mm thick, it shall guarantee a richer flowering. In the first caraway usually form rosette of root leaves, but in the second year branched stems with seeds are forming. Flowering begins in early June and lasts for 3-4 weeks. Caraway is allogamous plant, but also it is sufficiently good honey plant (~50 kg/ha), in order to increase the yield 2-3 bee families should be brought to 1 ha field.
The most destructive diseases are mildew, phomosis, bacteriosis, carrot black root rot which damages caraway roots. Pests which endanger caraway are caraway moths (Depressaria daucella), caraway ticks (in repeated sowings), flee beetles of carrot leaves, bugs. It is not recommended to sow after perennial meadows and fallow lands in order to avoid damage caused by wireworms. Nevertheless, one should not underestimate damage caused by forest animals, especially by wild boars.
Harvesting starts when 70-90 % of seeds are ripe, of the main mass has become brown colored; it is generally the late July – early August next year. The entire field have to be of sorrel color, must be no green places. Grain harvesters are used applying settings of rape threshing. One have to plan harvesting in morning when the mass is moist. If the harvesting is delayed even for 3-5 days, this leads to substantial yield losses.
It can be dried both in cold and hot air driers, but not more than at 40 degrees, in order to reduce losses of essential oils. It is important to start drying and ventilation immediately after harvesting, in order to stop growth of yeast fungus and micro-organisms. Storage humidity must not exceed 10-11%