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How to Grow Buckwheat

Grow buckwheat is the perfect for a cover crop and use this guide to find cooking applications and a brief history of this protein laden food.

| May/June 1986

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    Buckwheat is one of the best sources of high quality protein in the plant kingdom. It's easy to grow, harvest, and process; it prospers on soils too poor for other crops; and it's not susceptible to any major disease or pest problems.

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Buckwheat is easy to grow — in fact, it's unequaled at growing on poor soil . . . cut the stems with grass shears when about three-quarters of the seeds have turned brown. Threshing the seeds is fun: Just lay the stalks on a clean sheet and beat them with a broom!

Buckwheat is one of the best sources of high quality protein in the plant kingdom. It's easy to grow, harvest, and process; it prospers on soils too poor for other crops; and it's not susceptible to any major disease or pest problems. On top of all that, buckwheat is an excellent smother crop for weed control, a superb green manure crop, and a legendary nectar source for honeybees.

Yet few gardeners use it! In all the years we've planted buckwheat for bread and pancake flour, we've never heard of any other gardener raising the crop. So this article explaining how to grow buckwheat is our chance to speak up for an old friend, one that has served us faithfully . . . providing fine flavor and wholesome nutrition while asking for just a little care in return. We think buckwheat is the backyard grain you can bring in a usable harvest from as little as 40 square feet! It well deserves a place in American gardens.

A Bit About How to Grow Buckwheat

Some guidelines on how to grow buckwheat: This quick-blooming crop doesn't like hot, dry weather and is produced commercially only in the northern states. Still, while high temperatures — particularly at night can reduce yields by causing flowers to "blast" (fall off without forming seed), buckwheat's long period of bloom.generally ensures at least a moderate crop even when it's planted as far south as Tennessee. At our location in south central Kentucky, we've experienced some losses in August heat, but these have been followed by excellent seed formation during cooler periods in September.

Buckwheat is also quite tolerant of acidic conditions — there's little to be gained by adding lime to the soil. What's more, soluble nitrogen fertilizer is definitely not recommended for buckwheat, because it can cause the plant to favor vegetative, rather than seed, growth. However, buckwheat does respond well to nutrients supplied by the natural breakdown of organic materials. Winter cover crops such as rye and hairy vetch plowed under as green manure are excellent for maintaining soil fertility where buckwheat is grown.

Who Has the Buckwheat Varieties?

Unfortunately, seed of the few good buckwheat varieties can be quite difficult to locate. Most likely, your local farm supply store can provide you with "common" buckwheat, which is OK but nothing special. The same goes for the few mail-order houses selling buckwheat seed.

5/13/2019 2:27:58 AM

Nice information about buckwheat. Does it need much water? Our soil is sandy loam and just incorporated 300 tons of aged manure per acre over 4 acres. Organic Buck wheat seed is easy to find and averages $0.89 cent per pound 2019 prices. Any info on water needs would be great to hear about.

2/25/2018 12:34:28 PM

i live in the st. john valley in northern Maine. this area the french Acadian people that live here, have been growing buckwheat commercially for at least a hundred years. Bouchard family farm in Ft Kent has hundreds of acres of buckwheat that they harvest ,grind and sell flour. there is a local bread called ployes made with the flour, thats cooked like a pancake and is a staple side for most Acadian meals. they sell the mix for that too. check out their website. i bet they would sell some seed if you asked them. they even ship the flour and ploye mixes to canada.

2/25/2018 12:32:12 PM

i live in the st. john valley in northern Maine. the Acadian french people that live here have used buckwheat for hundreds of years. Bouchard's family farm in fort kent grows hundreds of acres of buckwheat. they mill it themselves and ship even to Canada! we have a native bread called ployes, made from buckwheat flour, thats cooked like a pancake and is served as a side for most meals. the Bouchards make the mix for them as well. i bet if you wanted seed, just ask Janice. bet she would accommodate you. they sell just plain buckwheat flour as well. very nice people! check them out on their website.

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