Cynara cardunculus L. was installed for biomass production in a total of 8.1 ha in Sesimbra (Portugal), using common agricultural practices and machinery. Installation by sowing was successful, in spite of the extreme drought during the first cycle (only 382 mm). In the second year, the rainfall was 683 mm and the plants developed well, with a mean density of 30 thousand plants per ha. The field presented a heterogeneous distribution of cardoon plants and the aerial photographs showed that 4.9 ha presented an occupation over than 50 %.
The yield of biomass was 9.7 tha-1, with plants presenting on average, 2.2 m height, 2.3 cm stalk diameter, and 6.5 capitula per plant. The capitula contained on average 210 seeds, weighing 28 g per 1,000 seeds, and the mean seed yield was 1,065 kg ha-1. The stalks represented 58.7 % of total dry biomass.
These results confirm that Cynara crops are suitable for biomass production in Mediterranean regions and that large scale operation can be applied including whole plant harvesting or plant fractionation for seed recovery. There was variation between plants, namely in oil seed production, which suggests potential improvements through breeding.