Quinoa farms coming to the US

A quinoa plant

A quinoa plant. Photo by fearghalonuallain (Revolution_Ferg) via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

This summer I offered up a brief post about quinoa, that nutrient-rich seed that’s consumed like a grain. The links I shared there included reporting on how the rising popularity of quinoa was making it difficult for native farmers in South America to afford the foodstuff themselves.

Today I offer a different look at the result of quinoa’s elevated profile. As Alastair Bland reports, farmers in the US are eying the possibilities of growing it here while weighing the potential problems:

[Kevin] Murphy [of Washington State University] says it’s already clear that quinoa can flourish and produce high yields in many parts of North America, and he sees “no reason why quinoa production won’t take off in the next few years.”

… Murphy says the quinoa craze is such a new phenomenon that farmers have hardly had a chance to react. As recently as six years ago, American shoppers could buy quinoa for the rice-like price of $1.50 per pound. Now, retailers get between $4.50 and $8 for every pound they sell of this nutrient-dense superfood.

So clearly, growing quinoa — which is actually the seed of the goosefoot plant (Chenopodium quinoa) — could be lucrative for American farmers, though only in cooler regions. Quinoa is very heat sensitive, and experienced gardeners say temperatures of 95 degrees will completely destroy a crop. Another challenge to producing quinoa is rain. If it falls during the autumn harvest time, it can ruin the crunchy, high-protein seeds by causing them to sprout.

Head here for the full piece.

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