All About Growing Summer Grain Crops

Summer grain crops, including buckwheat, corn, pearl millet, hulless oats and sunflowers can be grown in most regions and yield nutritious whole grains for your kitchen and your coop. This guide includes descriptions of different summer grains, how to grow them, and simple ways to harvest and store these warm-season, homegrown grains.

| October/November 2013

Summer Grain Crops

Millet and sunflowers are two nourishing summer grain crops — in addition to buckwheat, grain corn and pearl millet — which can be grown as satisfying staples for people and poultry alike.

Illustration By Keith Ward

(For details on growing many other vegetables and fruits, visit our Crop at a Glance collection page.)

A satisfying variety of grain crops can be grown during the summer months to provide staple foods for people and animals, without the pesticide residues that commonly plague store-bought grain products. Corn has high levels of protein and other nutrients, and pearl millet and hulless oats are easier to harvest and thresh compared with many other grains. The blossoms from sunflower and buckwheat plants provide nectar and pollen for important beneficial insects, and you can eat the seeds or use them to feed chickens and other birds.

Types of Summer Grain Crops to Try

The following warm-season grain crops thrive in a wide range of climates, are easy to store, and have nutritional profiles that make them nourishing staples for people and poultry alike.

Buckwheat is fast to germinate and grow, and can produce a mature seed crop in only two months. Seeds fall away from the plant easily, which simplifies the harvest process.

Grain corn varieties form hard, starchy kernels, and yield more food per acre than any other grain. Dry ears can easily be stored whole, allowing you to harvest and grind the grain as you need it. Plant grain corn later than sweet corn to avoid unwanted cross-pollination.

Pearl millet is a small, round grain produced by a tall annual grass. Plants can be cut for hay and then regrown to yield seeds for feeding chickens. You can roll the seeds like oats, or use them as is in cooking.

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