Impact of Production System and Cultivar on Yields of Roselle (Hybiscus sabdariffa) Leaves and Calyces

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2011: $14,155.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Richard VanVranken
Rutgers Cooperative Extension - Atlantic County

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Vegetables: Roselle


  • Crop Production: multiple cropping
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, feasibility study
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Proposal abstract:

    Roselle (Hybiscus sabdariffa) is an important vegetable in many of the worlds tropical cuisines, especially throughout southeast Asia, western Africa, and Central America. Most parts of the plant are used in various forms, from the leaves cooked as greens to the fleshy calyx used in soups and stews, as well as a colorant for a popular red drink in Mexico. A rapid increase of many of these ethnic groups in communities throughout the Northeast has created opportunities for both existing farmers and recent immigrants to grow produce specifically for these new consumers. Observation plots at Rutgers indicated Roselle responds well to production on plastic mulch with drip irrigation. Young shoots are picked from each plant and it is allowed to re-sprout for multiple harvests. Typically, leafy greens and herbs production in southern New Jersey consists of multiple plantings at much higher populations for once over harvest at a younger stage followed by immediate replanting. The optimal production and management system to grow Roselle greens in this region has not been determined. An additional challenge for Roselle production in the Northeast is the short frost-free season. Producing quality calyxes for consumption before a frost kills this very tender tropical plant has not yet been achieved. This project will consist of 2 years of variety trials to compare cultivars obtained from commercial sources and the Asian Vegetable R and D Center, and cultural trials to compare Roselle growth response to three production systems (bare ground multi-harvest, plastic mulch multi-harvest, bare ground single harvest).

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Concurrent production system and cultivar evaluation field trials will be replicated at Morris Gbolo farm (B and B Farm) in Galloway Township, NJ and at the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Development Center (RAREC) - Upper Deerfield, NJ. Each production system treatment plot will be 5 feet wide by 15 feet long, allowing for harvest sampling of 12 feet within each row. The cultivar evaluation plots will also be 5 feet wide by 15 feet long, but divided into 6 feet long sub-samples for leaf harvest vs. calyx production without leaf harvest. Pre-planting soil analysis will be used to determine fertility levels. The soil pH will be adjusted to 6.5-6.8 and fertilizers will be applied per recommended rates for summer greens production (Rutgers Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations). Plants will be monitored for insect and disease pests and treated with labeled pesticides, if available. Bare ground plantings will be cultivated with appropriate tools for each planting density (two or four row rolling basket and/or sweep cultivators). The production systems trial will be established by direct seeding after the last frost date (May 5-15) and will consist of four replications at each site of each of three treatment plots: bull; bare ground, two staggered-rows, multiple pickings; bull; black plastic-mulch, two staggered-rows, multiple pickings; and bull; four high plant-density rows on bare ground The cultivar evaluation trial will be planted after the last frost date by transplanting greenhouse grown plants into each plot and will be double-staggered rows on black plastic mulch. The planting area will allow for ten to fifteen cultivars to be evaluated for growth characteristics, leaf/shoot yield, time to harvest, time to flowering, calyx quality and yield. Leaves and shoots of all plants will be harvested when 8-10 inches long. Multi-harvested plants will be allowed to re-grow and new shoots will be harvested when they reach the appropriate size as long as the season allows. High-density plots will be destructed and replanted after each harvest as many times as allowed throughout the season. Each plot will be evaluated for time to harvest and total fresh weight of leaves and shoots. The results of this project will be disseminated through a variety of audience appropriate media. Initial update reports will be submitted for inclusion in the weekly Rutgers Plant and Pest Advisory Newsletter. Each season, the RAREC hosts open house grower twilight and industry field days. This project will be included in both of those events, including a stop on the plot tours. Morris Gbolo will be invited to participate in the RAREC events to discuss how the plots compare with those at his farm. At the completion of the second season, results from the trials will be presented at regional winter grower meetings, such as the Atlantic Coastal Ag Conference (NJ), and Mid-Atlantic Hort, NY State Fruit and Veg, New England Fruit and Veg, or other grower conferences, if invited, as well as submitted for publication in an appropriate journal such as HortTechnology. Additionally, the PI is coordinator/owner of the website originally funded and sponsored by SARE-NE as a source for production recommendations for specialty vegetables that can be grown in the Northeast. The results of this project will be highlighted in an updated page for Roselle on that site.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.