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Amaranth Grain

Amaranth is a high-fiber, low-fat grain.

Does Amaranth Need Pollination?

There are about 60 species of the amaranth grain plant. According to the USDA, most are monoecious, meaning they have both female and male reproductive organs and self-pollinate. Pollen usually travels amongst the plants through insect activity or wind, whether it's a self-pollinating species or not.

There are about 60 species of the amaranth grain plant. According to the USDA, most are monoecious, meaning they have both female and male reproductive organs and self-pollinate. Pollen usually travels amongst the plants through insect activity or wind, whether it's a self-pollinating species or not.

What Is Amaranth Grain?

History

In the 1400s, large amaranth crops were grown by the Aztecs in Mexico. The crop has been cultivated for several thousand years, states the "Alternative Field Crops Manual," and during the past 200 years has been introduced to countries including India, China and Eastern Africa.

Uses

Amaranth grain grinds into flour that is used in products including cookies, noodles, breads and pancakes. In addition, the high-fiber, low-fat grain can be popped like popcorn.

Requirements

Amaranth is a hardy, drought-resistant crop, according to Purdue's "Alternative Field Crops Manual." Seeds should be planted no more than a 1/2 inch deep, and the ideal planting time is late May or early June.

How to Calculate Grain Shrink

Calculate grain shrinkage before marketing your grain.

Calculate Shrinkage

Step 1

Grain can be dried in the field or mechanically in a grain bin.

Weigh your grain after harvesting. Write down the weight on a piece of paper. For example: 1,000 pounds of corn.

Step 2

Test grain moisture using a hand-held moisture tester. Write down the amount of moisture on your paper. For example: 25 percent moisture or 250 pounds of water and 75 percent grain or 750 pounds of grain.

Step 3

Test the moisture percentage after the grain has been dried. For example: 15 percent moisture. The grain has a 10 percent moisture loss or a loss of 100 pounds of water.

Step 4

Subtract the new percentage of moisture from the total weight. For example: 100 - 15 = 85 percent dry grain.

Step 5

Divide the total weight of grain by the new dry weight. For example: 750/.85 = 882 pounds.

Step 6

Divide total moisture loss in pounds by initial weight and multiply by 100. For example: 100/1000 x 100 = 10 percent water shrink.

How to Harvest Amaranth Seed

Wait for the seeds to begin falling from the plant. Once you notice a few seeds on the ground, they are ready to harvest.

Cut the tops of the plants off with gardening shears. The seeds are in the red or green seed heads, so be sure to cut off as much of this as possible.

Lay the seed heads on a plastic sheet or aluminum foil. Let them sit in the sun until they feel brittle, usually about a week.

Crumble the seed heads with your hands to remove the seeds from the rest of the plant.

Separate the seeds from the rest of the plant matter.

Store the seeds in an airtight glass jar. The jar should be kept in a cool, dark and dry place.

How to Care for Amaranth

Make sure the soil is rich and well-drained. Amaranth does best in these conditions, but will do well in others.

Add a general purpose fertilizer and compost to the soil. Soil rich in nitrogen and phosphorus is best for amaranth.

Keep the plants in a sunny location, and thin them out so that they are 1 1/2- to 2-feet apart. Use the the plants you pull in a salad.

Weed around amaranth plants, especially when the plants are young.

Wait till the amaranth has 2 to 3 leaves to water them by hand. They will get plenty of moisture naturally in early spring. Water the plants just enough to keep the soil damp.

Harvest the seeds after 3 months when they fall easily when shaken. Collect the seeds by shaking the tips into a paper bag.

Harvest the entire plant about 3 to 5 days after the first frost in dry weather. The leaves can be used in salads or cooked like spinach.