Quinoa potential trialled

29 Jul, 2014 02:00 AM
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Quinoa has the potential to be a future crop for the Ord

THERE are high hopes for quinoa to be the next 'big thing' in the health food market.

And the Frank Wise Institute, run by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) at Kununurra, is currently trialling 3.2 hectares of quinoa, to see if it can be successfully grown in the Ord.

DAFWA irrigated agriculture innovation director Geoff Strickland said the idea of the trial was to see if the crop would flower and develop viable seed under the Kununurra climate during the winter months.

"Quinoa will not set seed under continuous hot conditions," Mr Strickland said.

Although this is not the first year the research station has grown the crop, there are high hopes for the future of quinoa in the Ord, as Mr Strickland said many growers in the area had already expressed interest in growing it.

"The crop is progressing well and harvest is expected to commence on September 11," he said.

"Quinoa has the potential to be a future crop for the Ord Stage Two area, provided economic yields can be achieved."

The research station is also trialling five other varieties, from single plant selections, which were planted in 2013.

Three of the five selections warranted further trialling in 2014 as they showed great potential based on yield and seed size.

The current crop was planted on May 29, but work still needs to be carried out on chemical weed control; as there are no known herbicides to use as yet.

Quinoa is an ancient South American (Inca) grain often referred to as the "grain from the gods" due to its high protein content (17 per cent plus).

"In the modern world it is often referred to as a 'super food'," Mr Strickland said.

"It's already available in supermarkets across Australia and could continue to grow if marketed effectively, as has been achieved with chia."

The DAFWA research station currently has 450 hectares of fully irrigated Kununurra black clay blocks, half of which are leased out.

The 2014 cropping season includes, seed increases of sorghum seed, mungbeans, chickpeas, field peas, quinoa, chia, wheat, sweet sorghum and two GM crops; cotton and safflower; as well as a mango variety development.

FarmWeekly

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