Looking at the Organic Approach. I'm Greg Martin with today's Line On Agriculture.
Organic grain growers in Washington looking for new crops with new markets could be producing buckwheat and quinoa according to WSU Researcher Kevin Murphy.
MURPHY: The reason for the organic approach is this project was created, initiated by organic farmers. So they provided the impetus for this research, they requested it be done. So right now we've got 3 locations that are organic for buckwheat and 3 that are organic for quinoa. The goal is really first of all to grow buckwheat and to identify varieties that can be grown in different regions of Washington State and the same with Quinoa. Identify, if there are any out there, varieties that can be grown in Washington State.
The research is being funded by an organic grant. Part of that process is to also start a breeding program as well. Quinoa is something fairly new to the northwest and Murphy says it has been gradually moving north and south.
MURPHY: It is a small, round grain that originated in the Andes, especially around the equator and it's a very high protein – it's got a complete set of amino acids. It's in the Chenopodium family so it's a broadleaf, it's not a grass so it's similar to buckwheat in that. Other than that it's very different. It's closer looking to millet than it is to any buckwheat or rice or anything like that – or wheat.
Quinoa can be prepared like rice or can be milled. Murphy says it has become very popular in the U.S. with almost all of it grown and imported from Bolivia. Growing these grains do present some challenges.
MURPHY: Maturity is a big one. Getting them to mature in all the different regions of Washington State. One of the farmers we work with is Nash Huber on the Dungeness Spit on the Olympic Peninsula. It's a very cool region, has very cool nights as well, he has trouble getting buckwheat to mature out there.
There are a number of things they are looking for from the grains.
MURPHY: For the buckwheat grain there's two major markets, one is for cover crop seed and then the other is for an edible grain. Among the cover crop seed what we're looking for is dual purpose. We're looking for is a buckwheat variety that can mature across Washington State but that also has a lot of biomass so that farmers that are looking at including buckwheat in their rotations as a cover crop and has a fairly good grain yield too.
That's today's Line On Agriculture. I'm Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.