Evaluation and development of buckwheat and quinoa as alternative small grains for Washington State organic farmers and consumers

This project focuses on three alternative grain crops (buckwheat, quinoa and winter spelt) that were identified by organic farmers in Washington State as unique in their potential to diversify and improve existing small to mid-scale farming systems. Buckwheat, quinoa and spelt have the potential, to differing extents, to: diversify cropping systems with under-represented grain crops destined for local markets; function as valuable high-biomass cover crops; provide locally grown options for nutritious food for humans, particularly those with gluten intolerance or wheat allergies; and, serve as a high protein, nutritious animal feed. Variety trials and farmer selection/breeding were conducted with growers and multiple agronomic, nutritional and quality traits were evaluated.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 080
  • Project Status: Complete


  • Principal Investigator(s): Jaeckel, B., Murphy, K.
  • Investigator(s): Navazio, J.
  • Grant Amount: $27,000



Farmer and peer-reviewed publications describing the results of our three quinoa trials will be submitted for publication in 2012. We anticipate publishing these results in Tilth Producers Quarterly, Agronomy Journal, Plant Genetic Resources, and Crop Science. Our quinoa results were presented at the Agronomy Society of America annual meeting in San Antonio, TX in October 2011 in a organic research symposium. Additionally, these results were presented in poster and handout format at the Washington Tilth Producers Annual Conference in November 2011. Our buckwheat breeding program will continue and we anticipate the upcoming manuscript submission of our buckwheat nutritional experiments in a leading food science journal in Spring 2012. These results will also be shared in an appropriate farmer trade journal (Capital Press and/or Tilth Producers Quarterly).

Additional Funds Leveraged

We received additional funding (~$14,000) from the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) for organic spelt, quinoa and buckwheat research. Additionally, Kevin Murphy was awarded a Seed Matters/Clif Bar Family Foundation fellowship worth $125,000 over 5 years for graduate student research and training in the field of organic plant breeding. This will begin in 2012 and will focus on participatory breeding of quinoa in Washington State. Currently, we are applying for a USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) proposal for quinoa breeding, production, processing and marketing; this is due March 9, 2012.