Amaranth: Expert opinion of US scientists

Today is not an ordinary article. This is a collection of excerpts from official research scientists from the United States of America. They were conducted by specialists from the Center for Alternative Plants and Products of Animal Origin (University of Minnesota) and the 2nd Division of Agronomy and Soil Science of the College of Agricultural Sciences (University of Wisconsin) a few years ago.

This data of foreign researchers is another official and competent confirmation of the unusual properties of this wonderful plant. Each section of the article presents brief conclusions from US researchers.

Historical facts

Amaranth, an ancient culture prevalent on the American continent. Cereal amaranths were important in different parts of the world and at different times for several thousand years.

The largest cultivation area was at the height of the Aztec civilization in Mexico in the 1400s. The last two centuries, grain amaranth has been grown in various places on the planet, including:

• Mexico;

• Central American countries;

• India;

• Nepal;

• China;

• and East Africa.

Amaranth studies by US agronomists began in the 1970s. Then several thousand acres of amaranth were grown in the United States for commercial use (sales of the products — seeds, oil, flour, leaves). Amaranth markets were not yet very stable, but evolved every year. Crop area increased in the 1980s.

Today, novice producers are encouraged to start with a few acres, and contracts for the sale of the future crop should be made even before sowing.

Scientists from the United States of America identify several areas of application for this plant and the products derived from it.

Food use

Grain amaranth is used for food. The most common application is to grind grain into flour for cooking:

• bread and pastries;

• noodles;

•cookies;

• and other flour-based foods.

Also from the grain of amaranth you can cook popcorn. Currently, there are several dozen products on the basis of amaranth grain on the US market.

One of the reasons that has recently caused an interest in amaranth is its beneficial nutritional properties – the grain contains:

• from 12 to 17% protein;

• lysine, an essential amino acid;

• vitamins and trace elements.

In addition, the grain is characterized by a high fiber content and a low content of saturated fat, which contributes to its use in the market of healthy food. Studies conducted on laboratory animals have shown that amaranth grain, used for food, can significantly reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in the body.

Using in animal husbandry

Amaranth is used relatively often in animal husbandry, being an excellent animal feed. For example, research conducted in Minnesota (USA) showed how high the potential of this plant is as animal feed.

In addition, similar studies were conducted at pilot sites in Iowa.

As a result, it was found that in regions where it is too dry for growing corn, amaranth grain may become a suitable silage alternative, but research in this area will still be conducted.

Amaranth features

In the US, it is common to grow two species of this plant:

• Amaranthus cruentus;

• Amaranthus hypochondriacus.

Grain amaranths are different species with different characteristics, and did not turn into weeds, where they were grown, but retained their cultural characteristics. Amaranth grain grown in Arlington, Wisconsin contained between 16.6 and 17.5% protein.

Grain amaranths have large colored seed heads and can produce more than 900 kilograms of grain per hectare. At least, it is these indicators of yield recorded in the cultivation of amaranth in the Midwest. However, researchers note that part of the grain is still lost at harvest.

Amaranth cereal plants in the mature state reach 1.5-2 meters. They are dicotyledonous (broad-leaved) plants with thick, tough stems like sunflowers. Tiny, lens-shaped seeds have a diameter of one millimeter and usually from white to cream color.

Environmental requirements and cultivation

Also, scientists have studied in detail the conditions under which the best yield of amaranth can be achieved. And described the basic requirements for climate. Amaranth has been found to be drought tolerant, but subject to the presence of sufficient moisture to ripen the crop. Amaranth perfectly responds to constant, intense sunlight, direct sunlight and rather high temperatures.

Now let’s take a closer look at exactly how the preparation, planting and harvesting should be carried out. The seeds are very small, it is important that they are sufficiently solid. Field preparation for sowing can be performed using a field cultivator or disc equipment. This is followed by cultivation, using a harrow with grooves and seeding, preferably using a planter with pressure discs.

Seeds should be planted no more than 12 millimeters into the ground, depending on the texture of the soil and the surface moisture during planting. When choosing a field for sowing, heavy textured soils should be avoided. Sow amaranth in the United States begin in late May or early June, when the soil temperature is at least 18 degrees Celsius. And after the land was treated against the growth of the first weeds.

Accurate, optimal seed volumes have not been established, however, up to about 1.8 kilograms of seeds per hectare should be used. The distance between the rows depends on the equipment. The seeder should be ideal for small amaranth seeds. Traditional grain planters are not recommended due to problems with sowing speed control and sowing depth, but they can be used if amaranth seeds are diluted with “carrier”, for example, corn.

Harvesting

The harvest is the most important stage in the production of grain. Without compliance with certain, you can lose or damage most of the seeds. In particular, we are talking about the use of special reapers, which are designed for cutting amaranth stems and knocking out small grains of this plant. Studies conducted by University specialists during 12 years of demonstration that the yield of up to 18 centners per hectare is quite real! Naturally, if the site for this was previously prepared.

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