Developing production protocols and connecting producers to consumers of vegetable amaranth
Although this project does not begin until May 2017, a preliminary season of production research has been completed. The research included ten varieties of vegetable amaranth and four different plasticulture production designs. Data analysis is underway, and the results of this research will inform selection of amaranth varieties and production methods for the SARE project.
Beginning in May 2017, the SARE project will use the best performing varieties and production methods, as determined by this season of preliminary research, to continue production research and conduct marketing research at farmers’ markets around Rhode Island.
The original objectives were 1) perform a study on demand for vegetable amaranth at farmers’ markets around Rhode Island; 2) develop intensive production protocols for vegetable amaranth in the northeast temperate climate; and 3) share new information with farmers.
Direct work on these objectives will begin at the project start date in May 2017, but the preliminary season of research conducted in the 2016 growing season has provided useful information regarding best varieties, planting/harvesting dates, and production methods that warrant further investigation. The frequent informal communications with growers and farmers’ market vendors in 2016 will also contribute to a successful beginning of the SARE project in Spring 2017.
The preliminary season of production research that will inform this SARE project was successfully completed. There were 2 separate studies:
- Variety trials: Successive plantings of ten varieties of vegetable amaranth took place in low tunnels on the URI Agronomy Farm from May 2016 to October 2016. Air and soil temperatures, fresh weight, and dried stem to leaf ratios were recorded for all varieties throughout the season.
- Production methods: Two varieties of vegetable amaranth were grown in four different production treatments: an open field, raised beds with black plastic mulch, low tunnels with black plastic mulch, and a high tunnel. Yield data collected for three successive plantings included fresh weight, dried stem to leaf ratios, and node counts at a week after transplant, 2 weeks after transplant, and at harvest. Air and soil temperature were also recorded.
The combined results of these preliminary studies will allow determination of the most desirable varieties and the most effective production methods to be used in the SARE project beginning in May 2017.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Because little production research for amaranth in the northeast currently exists, all the information gained so far concerning planting/harvesting dates, the best performing varieties under certain conditions, and the agronomic characteristics of certain varieties will be useful. It will serve as a foundation for the SARE project, which, at its culmination in December 2017, will provide farmers in the northeastern United States with regionally-focused information on successfully growing vegetable amaranth and connecting to customers for the crop.
Associate Professor of Plant Sciences and Entomology
University of Rhode Island
70 Lower College Rd.
Kingston, RI 02881