Quinoa Production in Central North Dakota

2015 Annual Report for FNC15-1011

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2015: $13,516.00
Projected End Date: 02/15/2017
Grant Recipient: Hiddendale Farm
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Glendon Philbrick
Hiddendale Farm

Quinoa Production in Central North Dakota


In the 2015 crop year, inadequate moisture and weed growth posed challenges for the growth of quinoa. The past year was a great year for educating people about gluten free cooking and growing quinoa in central North Dakota.

Objectives/Performance Targets


    • Verify viable varieties of quinoa that can grow in North Dakota


    • Develop a producer friendly planting and harvesting process


    • Test harvesting methods


    • Develop a Direct Marketing Model


    • Educate the public



Two cooking classes were held, one in Turtle Lake and one in Bismarck, promoting the use of ancient grains in 2015, hosted by Glen Philbrick with Irene Graves as the camera operator.  The classes were open to the public. The video can be viewed in the Hiddendale Farm YouTube Channel through the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSbknjyOkS0


Both farms planted Cherry Vanilla and Brightest Brilliant Rainbow varieties of quinoa.  Germination was more than adequate at the Hiddendale Farm location.  Weed control was a challenge for the Hiddendale Farm location due to kochia.  The ground between the rows could be kept clean.  However, the rows themselves were overrun with kochia, despite a clean seed bed prior to planting.  Due to the overwhelming presence of kochia, the crop was cut and baled before the seed was mature to insure additional weed seed was not added to the field.  A field tour was cancelled for the preceding reasons.    


The Eid farm 2015 planting and harvesting were delayed by multiple equipment failures.  Planting occurred June 10th, a bit behind schedule.  The quinoa was swathed on October 13-15th.  A wind storm removed roughly 66% of the harvestable crop swaths.  The quinoa was harvested on October 23rd.  75 to 80 pounds of grain were harvested from the 1/3rd remaining.  Although high in dockage with proper cleaning equipment a clean sample is still obtainable.  Changes for 2016 based on lessons learned include earlier planning date, and utilization of legume in between rows of quinoa.  A second sheet of #12 triangle sieve screen will be procured and installed into the combine to help remove dockage from harvested field.


Hiddendale Farm has developed a method to plant adequately but not perfectly.  Ideally, rows could be as narrow as twelve inches.  The rows are at thirty inches which is limited by available equipment.  Hiddendale Farm obtained sieves for a cleaning mill which did an adequate job of cleaning grain. 

Hiddendale Farm did begin to market quinoa at a farmer’s market.  Getting quinoa ready for market has proved difficult due to saponin.  Saponin has proven to be a concern for marketing quinoa.  Consumers have purchased quinoa.  The amount of labor needed for hand washing, sorting and drying the quinoa for human consumption has proved overwhelming.   Obtaining a scarification machine would greatly reduce the labor and ensure the product is suitable to consumer needs and demands.   

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The Eid farm planting did prove that with proper pre planting weed control and seed bed, a standard fluted double disk drill such as a John Deere 9350 can be used to plant quinoa.  Forage tests results obtained from Eid farm Quinoa forage were sent to NDSU extension agent Karl Hoppe.  Karl stated quinoa forage would be an acceptable fiber and mineral additive for feed rations when utilizing dried distillers grains (DDG’s).  Nothing in the Quinoa forage was indicated as being dangerous if fed in appropriate rations.


The cooking classes were attended by seventeen people.  There was much discussion on the health benefits of cooking with ancient grains and how to cook with a grain which due to the lack of gluten does not rise when used for certain types of dough. 


Consumers of quinoa were surprised quinoa can be grown in North Dakota and are pleased it can be purchased locally.  Awareness is definitely increasing.


The BisMan Food Co-op, a grocery store soon to be open in Bismarck, ND, is a possible market for locally grown quinoa, provided the grain can be scarified. Scarification is necessary to have the grain ready for human consumption.   


The presentation at the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Aberdeen, SD was attended by forty-two people.  Several of those in attendance were producers.  A representative of General Mills was also attending the conference with buying interests in mind.  Questions around how to grow quinoa and how to market quinoa were asked by many present.  Food samples made from quinoa grown on Hiddendale Farm were prepared by Irene Graves and served to the attendees.


Steve Eid

4345 County 26
Stanton, ND 58571
Office Phone: 7018736476
Irene Graves

Extension Agent Agricultural and Natural Resources
712 5th Ave
Washburn, ND 58577
Office Phone: 7014600353