White lupin (Lupinus albus) for human consumption

White lupin is a legume whose grain and seed have gained increasing interest but it is a different botanical species to narrow-leaved (Lupinus angustifolius). Its recognized nutritional properties, namely a high content of proteins, dietary fibres and its low fat content, make lupin a suitable alternative not only for animal proteins, but also as a substitute for more processed and less balanced flours from a nutritional point of view, used in the preparation of bread, cakes and cookies, among others (Pereira et al., 2022). White lupin is a species of the family Fabaceae, and like most of the members of their family, it can fix the nitrogen

White lupin is an annual legume that can reach a height of approximately 120 cm, with strong stem and roots that can penetrate the soil to a depth of 1.5 m. White lupin flowers from April to June, the flowers are white to violet. The seeds are large, cream in colour with a 1000-seed-weight of 350–400g. White lupin originates from the Mediterranean basin and is thus suited to relatively mild winter and warm, humid spring but sensitive to cold and to spring freeze. It requires cool temperatures until the beginning of extended growth and good water supply for flowering. Harvest occurs in June-July with dried out plants. It tolerates heavier soils and has a higher yield potential, but does not ripen until August – September.

In Switzerland, important cultivation practices include the use of healthy, certified seeds, sowing as early as possible and using the right cultivar to reduce the impact of the fungal disease anthracnose, which is spread through the seed. Potentially, white lupin is the most valuable protein crop after soybean for animal feed and human nutrition due to the high protein content and good amino acid profile. The yields are usually around 3 t/ha, typically varying from 2 to 4 t/ ha. Advantages over soybeans include above all the possibility of sowing in March (frost down to -5 °C is no problem), a better preceding-crop or break-crop effect, and clearly visible flowers which are attractive for pollinators. Lupin thrives well in acidic, low phosphorus soils. Disadvantages of white lupin are the risk of losses due to anthracnose, problems with late weed infestations, relatively late harvest (mid to late August) and alkaloid content (Arncken et al., 2020).

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