ISSN 1392-3196 / e-ISSN 2335-8947
Zemdirbyste-Agriculture, vol. 102, No. 1 (2015), p. 31–40
DOI  10.13080/z-a.2015.102.004

Changes in the productivity of wild and cultivated stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) as influenced by the planting density and crop age



An interest in the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.), as a multi-purpose plant, has been on the increase in many countries throughout Europe and even worldwide recently. The study was conducted at the Upytė Experimental Station of the Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry in 2010–2012 in which we investigated the productivity of the stinging nettle crop, established at different planting densities and that of nettle crops of different age (the number of cropping years), as well as changes in yielding and morphological parameters in senescent plants. Some data of cultivated nettle were compared to those of wild nettle. The research findings showed that in all experimental years, irrespective of crop age, the productivity per plant was higher at a planting density of 60 × 100 cm. The green biomass yield generally was higher in the treatments planted at 60 × 60 cm density. The mean green above-ground mass yield per plant was going down with crop senescence. The mean absolutely dry above-ground mass yield was higher in 2010 (close to 14 t ha-1), while in 2011 and 2012, the yield was much lower – 6.5–7.1 t ha-1. The green above-ground mass yield of wild nettle was lower than that of cultivated nettle and the absolutely dry above-ground mass yield of wild nettle was approximately 2–3 times lower than that of cultivated nettle. The mean crop density (at harvest) increased over the years of investigation and was higher in an older crop. Starting from the 3rd cropping year, crop density at harvest in the treatment planted at lower density (60 × 100 cm) exceeded crop density at the treatments planted at higher density (60 × 60 cm). The number of wild nettle stems per m2 was much lower than that of cultivated nettle. The greatest increase (110–217%) in the crop density over the vegetation period was found in the plots planted at lower density (60 × 100 cm). In an older crop, stinging nettle produced more but shorter stems.

Key words: biomass, number of stems, stem diameter, stem length, Urtica dioica.

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