Growing Quinoa in the Northeast
OGRIN's latest research focuses on planting date/strategy
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is a high-value crop that is in strong demand by consumers—and thus has potential to increase profitability for organic growers. However, quinoa so far has only successfully been produced commercially in North America at high elevations or under cool growing conditions. Efforts to grow quinoa in the Northeast have produced plants with robust vegetative growth but few or no seeds, a problem thought to stem from high temperature stress.
OGRIN first started working with quinoa as part of a collaborative NE SARE farmer project with David McClelland and Mei-Ling Hom (see resource section for their report). Many varieties were planted and grew, but only a small amount of seed was produced.
OGRIN is now collaborating with Walter Riesen and Tianna Kennedy of Star Route Farm (Charlottesville, NY) to identify planting dates and strategies that may increase seed production. We are working with two varieties that have produced some seed in past seasons: Red Head and Oro de Valle (both obtained from Wild Garden Seed). Four planting date/strategies are being tested:
· early direct seeding (May 12)
· early transplants (May 19)
· late direct seeding (June 25)
· late transplants (early August)
The early planting date is an attempt to initiate flowering and seed set before the hottest summer temperatures. The transplant strategy was suggested by OGRIN board member Dr. Beth Medvecky to allow more flexibility (e.g., avoid spring frosts that can kill quinoa seedlings, along the lines of spring broccoli production). The later date seeding/transplants may allow for flowering and seed set as temperatures start to cool in late summer—following the model for buckwheat seed crop production.
Stay tuned for results!
- Do you have experiences to share about quinoa production? Ideas to improve management? Please send us your comments.
- This quinoa research is currently unfunded. If you think it worthwhile and can afford to, please consider a donation. A contribution of $25 would cover half the cost of the quinoa seed used in the trials. A contribution of $10 would help fund a trip for Elizabeth to collect data at Star Route Farm.
You can see pictures from our trials in the gallery section. Thanks to Donna Mellander for the photo of the quinoa plant above.