Crop grown for its enlarged roots: e.g. beets; potatoes; turnips.
Plant cultivated for its swollen edible root (which may or may not be a true root). Potatoes are the major temperate root crop; the major tropical root crops are cassava, yams, and sweet potatoes. Root crops are second in importance only to cereals as human food. Roots have a high carbohydrate content, but their protein content rarely exceeds 2%. Consequently, communities relying almost exclusively upon roots may suffer from protein deficiency. Food production for a given area from roots is greater than from cereals.
In the mid-1980s, world production of potatoes, cassava, and yams was just under 600 million metric tons. Potatoes are the major temperate root crop; the major tropical root crops are cassava (a shrub that produces starchy tubers), yams, and sweet potatoes. Root crops are also used as animal feed, and may be processed to produce starch, glue, and alcohol. Sugar beet has largely replaced sugar cane as a source of sugar in Europe.