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Quinoa
Chenopodium quinoa

A high protein staple green and seed “grain” from the Andean highlands, with thicker and juicier leaves than lambs quarter, its close cousin. Leaves are a nice salad size with salty spinach-like flavor. Thrives in dry periods of summer. Sow 1” apart in rows for cutting 6-8” plants for greens, or space 12-14” apart for picking leaves (which may be followed by grain production). Maturing seed heads are very brightly colored, ornamental, and high yielding.

After decades of obscurity, Quinoa has recently swept to the attention of farmers and gardeners in North America. Washington State University has an extensive testing program ongoing to find South American varieties that will perform well in the Pacific Northwest. Quinoa is largely adapted to cool, dry, upland conditions, and will fail to make seed if temperatures are too hot for pollen tube development. This temperature sensitivity is variable across varieties. The Willamette Valley is too warm some years, and with warmer climates ahead, it is not too early to begin the process of adaptation.

Quinoa Cultivation for Grain:
As a mountain farmer from way back, quinoa has always been a natural crop for my home ground. Quinoa is a mountain peoples' crop, particularly suited to marginal soils, cool nights, and dry conditions. I began growing it in 1983 on a mountain of glacial till near Puget Sound with great success, and never had a failure until recently, while sowing into great soil in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where the nighttime temps are higher and grass seed fields are full of lygus bugs (that suck nutrients from blooming seedheads). Five miles away in the foothills where I live, simultaneous crops were as full as normal. We cannot say exactly why, but we believe this relates to some critical threshold temperature for pollen tube development, a phenomenon well understood in growing seed of spinach, a relative of quinoa.

Kevin Murphy, WSU quinoa researcher in Pullman, WA, tells me that temperature sensitivity and varietal performance are variable in his trials, and are likely dependent on the South American latitude and micro-climate that gave rise to each variety. We have noted that our quinoa feedback has been very positive from western Canada, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and other northern mountain States. We would love to hear from others about their quinoa seedcrop experience in other places.

Our best success with quinoa "grain" comes with planting from mid-April through May. Direct seed into 24" rows. Thin to 3-4" apart in the row to produce single-headed plants that mature uniformly for harvesting in a single pass. Maximum seed yield comes from 12" or greater in-row spacing that makes a branched crop. This may require an initial harvest of primary heads, followed in another 7-14 days with a final harvest of whole plants. Harvest when seedheads are still brightly colored, and thresh with a rubbing action of the head (by hand or feet, or belt thresher). Grain is easy to clean with 1/8" and 1/16" hardware mesh, and careful winnowing.


Seeds Per Ounce: 20,000
Seeds Per Packet: 500

Oregon Tilth Certified Organic Seed

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 Brightest Brilliant Rainbow (Quinoa)  Brightest Brilliant Rainbow Farm Original Variety!
Our latest selection from our most striking color choices. Hot pink to royal burgundy, red, orange, yellow, white, green, and every bright combination. pricing and more info...
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 Cherry Vanilla (Quinoa)  Cherry Vanilla Farm Original Variety!
Beautiful strain with pink and cream heads, and the whitest seeds of any type we’ve tried. pricing and more info...
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 French Vanilla (Quinoa)  French Vanilla Farm Original Variety!
NEW FOR 2013! Named for the appearance of the large seedheads that look like overloaded ice cream cones. Selected out of 'Brightest Brilliant', this new variety reaches 6-7' tall with... pricing and more info...
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 Mint Vanilla (Quinoa)  Mint Vanilla Farm Original Variety!
NEW FOR 2014! New selection out of 'Brightest Brilliant', bright white-headed quinoa with very white seeds in a green-tinged panicle. Limited quantity. pricing and more info...
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 Oro de Valle (Quinoa)  Oro de Valle Farm Original Variety!
This gold-headed strain has been selected out of our ‘Brightest Brilliant Rainbow’ for growing in the heart of the Willamette Valley. The head is composed of relatively loose se... pricing and more info...
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 Red Head (Quinoa)  Red Head Farm Original Variety!
Our first selection from the original South American introductions of the mid-1980s. Sturdy high yielding strain with bright pinkish red seed heads. Selected to withstand some rain at maturity without seed sprouting in the head, an important new trait in ... pricing and more info...
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