We catch up again with the plant sheets. This time we have to talk about amaranth , which will surely sound familiar to many of you. Our intention is to carry out an agronomic analysis of its qualities, as well as to tell the cultivation techniques that will lead to having a great plant. Welcome to the cultivation of amaranth.
AMARANTH CULTIVATION, ESPECIALLY FOR COLD CLIMATES AND POOR SOILS
Let’s catch up on amaranth a bit. It is a genus of plants ( Amaranthus ) belonging to the Amaranthaceae family . In this family we find around 2,400 species.
As a curiosity to tell you that according to the new classification of plants ( APG phylogenetic classification ) they insert the Chenopodioideae family or subfamily within it, so here we would also include beets or spinach , very interesting crops for the garden.
If we had to choose some of the best known and most cultivated species of this genus we would say 3:
- Amaranthus caudatus
- amaranth red
- Amaranthus hypochondriacus
Its properties have been contrasted by its extensive cultivation, dating back more than 4,000 years . Their domestication was prompt, as they discovered the great nutritional power that could be obtained, with simple cultivation tasks.
THE CLIMATE IN AMARANTH CULTIVATION
As for the climate, it resists cold environments very well . It has no problem growing in places where there is a lot of humidity, either because the soil does not drain as it should or because it rains a lot (typical of tropical climates).
It also has a wide level of adaptation to the climate, where it has been successfully cultivated both at the coastal level and in the high mountains. In fact, its resistance to salinity should also be highlighted .
To germinate, the seeds require a lot of heat, around 35ºC. However, during its cultivation it can grow under temperatures around 8 ºC, in even specific values of 4 ºC, without stopping its growth or suffering cold damage.
Amaranth has the benefit of growing in poor soils , those that lack a sufficient percentage of organic matter and, therefore, cannot be considered as fertile.
It can be planted either directly or by seed or seedling . However, if the weather conditions are not bad, the first option is usually chosen. A special condition is that the soil is suitably moist to receive the seed, or it is watered immediately after planting.
The common planting frame usually leaves a separation of 10 cm between plant and plant. If at the beginning you have them more collected, later, once the plant has germinated, you can do a pecking.
If you decide, due to the climate, to introduce them previously in a seedbed or to cultivate them in pots, you can transplant when the seedling has grown at least 10 cm.
FERTILIZER DOSE AND IRRIGATION
Although it is capable of growing in poor soils , it is up to you to add some organic matter to the crop. Nitrogen and phosphorus needs are greater than potassium, so if you want rapid growth and good development from its youthful stage, a contribution of fertilizer during the growing season will help to avoid deficiencies and problems.
With regard to irrigation , it has a double effect. On the one hand, it is used to areas where humidity and rain are frequent. But on the other hand, it also adequately resists water stress . Its roots are capable of absorbing water where other plants cannot, even extracting water from a depth of 1.5 meters.
It has a C4 metabolism (4-carbon pathway), so it uses a much more efficient use than a plant with 3-carbon pathway. You need 3/5 parts of such a plant to produce the same plant mass.
POSSIBLE PESTS AND DISEASES IN AMARANTH
Depending on the environmental humidity, amaranth is susceptible to being infected by the following diseases :
- Black spot
- White rust ( Albugo bliti)
- Powdery mildew ( Erysiphe sp.)
- Fusarium sp.
- Esclerotiniosis (Sclerotinia sclerotiorium)
- Cercosporiosis (Cercospora brachiata, Cercospora sp.)
Among pests , it can also be affected by:
- Amaranth moth ( Herpetograma bipunctalis)
- Leaf moth ( Eurisacca melanocampta)
- Soybean moth ( Pseudoplusia includens)
- Pulgones (Aphis spp, Myzus persicae)
- Gorgojos ( Contrachelus seniculus)
- Beetles ( Calligrapha curvilinea)
WHY IS AMARANTH SO IMPORTANT IN AGRICULTURE?
If something has been around for more than 4,000 years, it is because its interest is indisputable. To this day, it is still given the same importance that the great ancient civilizations gave it. That, of course, is for something.
That something we are going to tell you what it consists of:
- It generates an excellent production and a great vegetable content, ideal for animal feed.
- It has a high content of proteins and essential amino acids, both its seeds and its leaves.
- Apart from its nutritional potential, it is a showy plant, used as an ornamental in parks and gardens.
- It grows very well in both dry and humid environments and poor soils.
- Amaranthine, an extract of amaranth, is used as a food coloring.
- It has some medicinal properties.