Environmental requirements
Plant care
Pest control
General quality criteria
Net diagram

Madder (Rubia tinctorum L.)


Environmental requirements

Madder does not have any special requirements regarding the climatic conditions. Although it is native to the Mediterranean, it thrives very well under Central European climatic conditions. It is resistant to frost and overwinters easily.

Deep, sandy loam soils rich in humus and with only small amounts of stones are particularly suitable for growing madder.

On heavy soils the clearing and cleaning of the roots causes problems.

Madder with roots

Preceding crop

From a phytopathological point of view madder does not have any special requirements concerning the preceding crop. As madder is created as a perennial culture, the preceding crop should be chosen accordingly leaving a well prepared soil with good nutrient supply free of root weeds.

Date of availability, crop residues, weeds and root weeds are other aspects.

Potatoes, cover crops, legumes would be suitable.

Well fertilized root crops are particularly suitable as the preceding crop. As a subsequent crop summer crops, preferably cereals, should be taken into account.

Soil preparation

Tillage is used to create optimal growth conditions. It aims at the physical properties of the soil, to provide a suitable soil structure, up to an equivalent depth, depending on the particular plant. The natural soil conditions can not be changed in general, but be influenced positively at least for the period of cultivation. In order to ensure the formation of sufficient root mass, the site should be easy for roots to penetrate. It has proven to be beneficial to carry out the planting of Sudan grass on the basis of the known processes of the root crop cultivation.

The tillage is therefore geared towards root crops and is used for:


The conventional tillage with plow, cultivator is used perhaps depending on further methods of cultivation, possibly dam preparation. If so than tillage is preferably deep to allow a good, fine dam construction. The dam cultivation is advantageous for the subsequent maintenance, soil warming, the microclimate and root penetration. Over time, the dams level out with expanding crop and care.

For seedbed preparation and planting bed preparation the ground surface needs to be levelled and suitable conditions for sowing and germination need to be established.

A shallow processing in spring is reommended as well as choosing the right time for tillage. With proper tillage a structured aggregate size distribution is formed in the upper soil layer (topsoil), to the depth of the untreated subsoil. The surface ground should have accordingly a crumbly structure (8 to 14 cm) possibly re-consolidated. The underlying layer of top soil must be well set.

Depending on the soil type all this needs to be adjusted to the plant, the plant material, the grain size of the seed, and sowing depth.

For madder on loamy sand it could look like this:

The technical possibilities today range from traditional tools to combinations, to active devices / machines in all kinds of sizes.