Grain crops are those that produce an edible dry seed which can be stored for a long period of time. The seeds of grain crops are normally milled to produce a flour, but sometimes they are softened by cooking and/or chemical treatment. The majority have high protein content accompanied by a good content of B vitamins. Some have fair to high oil content and/or Vitamin E. In addition, most have good quantities of carbohydrates, usually as starch. As a group, the grains are used chiefly in the production of breads. Grain crops are literally the staff of life for billions of people. The three most important food crops in the world are wheat, rice, and corn. Somewhat similar grasses include pasta wheat, barley, sorghum, pearl millet, rye, and triticale (a potentially important hybrid between wheat and rye).Teff is a major grain crop in Ethiopia. Buckwheat is an important grain crop from China, but it is not a grass. Amaranth, kaniwa, and quinoa, used extensively in the past by American Indians, are highly nutritious non-grass grains (called pseudo-cereals). Varietal differences are important ingrains. Individual cultivars often have particular seasonal and climatic adaptations. As a rule, crops are planted during a wet season and must mature during dry weather.
See A Comparison of Grain Crops.
• Amaranth.Amaranthus cruentus: Mexican R104 (Rodale). Manna: good producer. Amaranthus hypochondriacus: low growth habit, easy to harvest mechanically (Rodale). HH4/HH5-large yellow heads, excellent yields (USDA). (EDN 3-1, 4-1, 16-5, 23-6).
• Buckwheat. Fagopyrum esculentum. Cool, humid climates. Harvest two months after planting. Short season high altitude nurse crop used to shade ground; green manure; seed high in lysine; used in honey production ;wide soil tolerance; not for hot areas; needs good soil moisture throughout growing season; frost-intolerant. (EDN 10-3, 38-2).
• Corn. Zea mays. Blue-100 day, large full ears, dark blue kernels, drought tolerant and disease resistant; Posole-100 day, large plump ears, drought tolerant flour corn. Papago-80 day, small slender cream-colored ears, drought tolerant flour corn. Rio Grande Red-110 day, 7 ft stalks, 1-2 ears of dark red kernals, this is a drought tolerant flour corn. Larger quantities available from Plants of the Southwest. [Sweet corn: see Miscellaneous Vegetables.] (EDN 16-1, 20-3,4,5, 21-3, 23-6, 28-2).
• Kaniwa. Chenopodium pallidicaule. High protein (16-19%), with well-balanced amino acids; does well on poor, rocky soils at high elevations; also survives frost; temporarily out of stock but would appreciate any sources or information on this plant.
• Millet. Echinochloa turnerana. (Channel Millet)-temporarily out of stock.
• Eleusine coracana (Dragon's Claw or Finger Millet). Less susceptible to bird damage than other millets listed below, low protein, long storage life, sea level to 2500 meters, cool moist climate; tillers.
• Pennisetum americanum (Candlestick Millet). Similar to Pearl millet.
• Pennisetum glaucum (Pearl Millet). Grain not as susceptible to Striga as other species, but very bird susceptible. Plant residue used for livestock feed, house building, fencing, and fuel. Harvesting may be irregular.
• Setaria italica (Foxtail Millet). Cooked whole, or made into meal, plant is used for hay or silage. Highly drought tolerant. Sea level to 200 m.
• Panicum sp. (Proso or Hog's Millet) Used as human and animal food, much the same as rice, or in flour. Short season, high in amino acids and carbohydrates. Wide soil variety, not frost tolerant, low water requirement, but not as drought resistant as other grains, due to shallow roots.
• Oats, Naked. Avena nuda. An oat that has no hull.
• Quinoa. Chenopodium quinoa. High protein; seeds eaten like rice; grows well at high elevations on poorly drained lands, in cold areas and in drought. Day-neutral and equatorial varieties available (EDN 4-4, 11-3, 46-1,2,3). 'Ingapirca' has very low saponins requiring only light washing; best for very high altitudes, 3000-3600 m on equator; wind, frost and drought tolerant; 400-800 mm rain/yr; not tolerant of humidity. 'Tunkahuan' also has low saponins requiring only light rinsing; 2200-3400 m on equator; 600- 1200 mm rain/year, humidity-tolerant. 'Appelawa', 'Kaslala' are our Bolivian types, and 'Colorado 407' is a Chilean type.
• Sorghum. Sorghum bicolor. Giza 114-stalks also burned as fuel (Egypt). Bird-resistant-dwarf variety low in tannins; do not roast (EDN 46-5)(EDN 25-1, 32-6). Sweet Sorghum and Striga-resistant varieties available.
• Teff. Eragrostis tef. Red and White types. Ethiopian staple in bread. Small seeds, self-pollinated, 3' tall, matures in 4 months.
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