Chris Allen. 05/18/2014
Kava Growing Habits
So the question posed to me was “Is 10 year old Kava more potent than 2 year old Kava”. The short answer is “NO”. The percent of Kavalactones in a Kava Plant reach their full potential at 18 to 24 months and the potency can actual decrease over time. As a Kava Farmer, I will let my plants grow up to 5 years old because they will be bigger and yield more Kava. For those interested, I have posted a more detail explanation below.
When we plant a kava plant it will grow fast and consistent for about 6 years and then it slows down and the growth habit changes. During this time it will send out new roots that will grow outward for up to 12 feet or more. New stalks will form that increase the size of the stump. The roots and the stump are the choice parts that I process for consumption.
After about 6 years, the growth habit changes. Growth slows and it does not send out any new stalks. The potent roots also stop growing. At this point, you may start to see mature stalks dying off and this can create rot in the stump of the plant. The plant will start to grow slowly upward instead of outward.
So from 2-5 year active growth cycle, I believe the Kavalactones are at their peak. Once they get older, I stand a chance of losing some of that potency. Tests have consistently shown this to be true.
Kava Growing Tips
To help combat rot, pests, and disease, I mound my kava with compost, ( like the Hawaiians did). I also use intercroping and beneficial bugs to help fight diseases like Cucumber Mosaic Virus.
Kava likes the shade when it is young so the Hawaiians use to build shade houses for their young plants. After a year, the Kava can take more sun and Lebot proved that the sun will actual increase Kavalactone production. Mounding compost around the kava plant helps active growth cycle to last longer and this encourages the growth of the Kavalactone rick fine hairlike lateral roots and big outward lateral roots.
I know you might think that the real big lateral roots would be higher in kavalactones than the small hairlike roots but the tests have shown that the small roots are stronger, the reason is that there is more of the inner bark and that is where the higher % of kavalactones are in the root, there is more surface area in the bunch of small roots than a few large roots.
Because we have the perfect climate and soil, Kava grows very well in the wild in Hawaii and I have personally seen one Wild Kava fill up the a full size pick up truck. My Noble Kava plants are spoiled and they get irrigation, compost, and lots of tender loving care. In return they yield large percentages of Kavalactones which make my Hawaiian Kava some of the most potent in the world.