Amaranth (Amarantus L.)

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Amaranth is one of the most wonderful genera of plants that has been undeservedly forgotten. In Greek, amaranthos is a flower that does not grow. In fact, it rarely wilts, and its flowers do not lose their aesthetic beauty once they have withered.

The history of amaranth cultivation is full of enigmas. It is known to have attracted the attention of people as early as 8000 years ago. Once widespread across the globe, the Amaranth has since been forgotten, and only legends and legends remind us of the immortal flower. For the ancient Greeks, the Amaranth was a symbol of immortality, for the Mayans and Incas it was food, for the Aztecs it was a god.

Why did a plant that was so popular in ancient times become forgotten later? Some attribute the decline of ancient Indian civilization to the disappearance of the Amaranth. Amaranth was actively eradicated by the Spanish conquistadors, who called it “the devil’s plant” because Amaranth was also used in traditional Indian religion to “drive away evil spirits”.

The current resurgence of Amaranth began in the mid-1960s. Breeding has begun in many parts of the world. Particularly in the USA, China, the Czech Republic, Russia, and some other countries.

Amaranth is not only famous as a food but also has unique medicinal properties. In Russia, technology has been developed for the production of borage oil, the world’s best immune activator, which inhibits the development of cancer cells. Amaranth slows the aging process, lowers cholesterol, treats tuberculosis, bronchitis and pneumonia, psoriasis and eczema, chronic stomach ulcers, burns, atherosclerosis, angina pectoris, and many other ailments. The healing power of Amaranth is equal to that of ginseng or golden mustache, and its nutritional value surpasses that of all the world’s currently existing plant species.

Amaranth flower
Amaranth flower

BIOLOGICAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL PROPERTIES

Amaranth belongs to the class Dicotyledones, order Caryophyllidae, family Amaranthaceae Juss., genus Amaranthus. Together with the genus Chenopodium, it forms a small group of pseudobulbs that (like the bellflowers) can produce seeds of high nutritional value. They are herbaceous, deciduous annuals with a well-developed taproot (the taproot accounts for about 15% of the total biomass of the plant, while the lateral roots are located in the arable soil layer with a radius of up to 80 cm), which has a high suction power. It is claimed that the roots of Amaranth can form mycorrhiza with some fungi.

There are now 4 groups of brassicas that have been selected: salad (leafy), cereal, colorful and ornamental. The green matter of most of the brassica species is used for fodder production. Amaranth is characterized by a long development period, intensive growth, and high dry matter productivity. They produce not only a high yield of seeds (up to 6 t/ha) but also a high yield of green matter (up to 200 t/ha). The height of Amaranth varies from 0,8 to 3 meters, depending on growing conditions, species, variety, and acro technique. The growing period is 90150 days. They can grow in a wide range of climatic conditions and soils. However, it grows best in fertile loamy soils with a pH greater than 6. They are also heat-loving and germinate and grow best at soil and air temperatures above 15°C. They are relatively drought tolerant. It grows well enough in areas with 200 mm of annual rainfall and 3000 mm of annual rainfall.

The selection of the Amaranth was made in the direction of abundance rather than the seed size. The plants are prolific, producing up to 50 000 seeds, and their inflorescences are sometimes more than 1 meter long. The color of the seeds varies from white to black in different species and varieties.

Amaranth are increasingly being used as green manure and as ornamental plants. Celloses are very ornamental. They can be grown as flowers and vegetables in kitchen gardens and at home.

They are grown on balconies and in rooms all year round and used for food and medicine.

When studying the mechanism of photosynthesis, scientists have noticed an interesting phenomenon: some plant species synthesize proteins, others carbohydrates. In 1960, Karpilov discovered that in maize, photosynthesis does not follow the rules – it occurs with four carbon molecules instead of three. It turned out that some other plant species (pigeon peas, sugar cane, sorghum, borage – about 500 species in all) also have this property. The plants were therefore divided into two groups, C4 and C3. Subsequent studies have confirmed that C4 plants have a better carbon uptake. For example, in C4 plants (borage, maize), each square decimetre of foliage absorbs 80-100 mg of carbon dioxide per hour, while in C3 plants only 30-50 mg are absorbed. It can therefore be argued that Amaranth plantations are of great ecological value because they are able to absorb 2-3 times more CO than other plants. It was later discovered that they also have the ability to accumulate large amounts of protein.

Amaranth has more efficient photosynthesis, more intense nitrogen metabolism, and, due to the structure and functioning of photosynthesis and the physiological-biochemical features of metabolic processes, higher productivity. As a result, Amaranth accumulates highly valuable balanced plant proteins.

Photosynthesis is very active even under unfavorable conditions. Their leaves are arranged in such a way that they do not block each other and make the most of the sun’s energy. A mature plant has between 500 and 1 000 leaves arranged in several tiers. Their total area (i.e. leaf area index) is 6-10 m2 per m2 of land. The plant can therefore accumulate so much organic matter in a relatively short growing season. It is hard to imagine that a poppy-sized grain can grow to a mass of 5-20 kg per plant in 4-5 months under favorable growing conditions, while a 1,5 m long flower can produce up to 0,5 kg of seeds.

SNO experts rank Amaranth as one of the most important Gallic species of the 21st century, and the US National Academy of Sciences listed it as one of the 36 most promising plant species worldwide as early as 1975.

Amaranth
Amaranth

AGROTECHNIQUE

Amaranth is an annual plant. In temperate climates, they can have a growing season of 110-170 days, depending on the species and variety. They are well adapted to environmental conditions and can grow from 0 to 4000 m above sea level. Amaranth grows in almost all climate zones. They are not very demanding on the soil. They grow poorly only on heavy, compacted soils, but with manure or green manure they can grow well here too. The optimum soil acidity is pH 6-7.

How to prepare the soil

Amaranth is like loose soil. This helps the fine seeds to adhere better to the soil particles, improves the moisture regime, and prevents the seeds from going too deep. A germinator is the best way to prepare the soil.

When to sow

Amaranth is heat-loving plant. They germinate best when the soil temperature is at least 15°C. Seeds germinate in 4-6 days at favorable temperatures and soil moisture. When the weather cools down, germination takes longer. In our country’s climate, the sowing of maize and corn coincides with the month of May. Early sowing leads to higher yields, but there is a risk of frost, to which the corn ear is quite susceptible. Frost or drought-affected corms can be replanted, especially when grown for green fodder. Growing for seed reduces yields and delays maturation. In our studies, the highest yields were obtained from sowing on 4 and 11 May 2015, while in 2016 similar yields were obtained from sowing on 28 April-25 May. The Amaranth was almost unaffected by the light frosts.

How to sow

The seeds are very fine. 1000 seeds weigh between 0,7 and 0,9 g (150-200 g for most soya varieties). The germination of small seeds is often hampered by soil crusting after rainfall. This can be avoided by increasing the seed rate. The denser seedlings break through the seed coat. Fine seed should be sown shallowly. The optimum sowing depth in normally moist soil is 11,5 cm. In looser soils, the seed will germinate even if sown at a depth of 2,5 cm, but a higher seed rate is necessary.

For larger areas, Fiona or other sowing machines for oilseed rape or perennial grasses are suitable. To sow at a lower rate with non-precision drills, ballast such as maize meal or grits is added. It is advisable to close every second seed tube and sow at a lower seed rate and sow at different spacing widths to facilitate later weed control. The row spacing can vary from 20 to 100 cm, depending on the sowing and cultivation technique. Tests carried out in Dotnuva have shown that the highest yields of both grass and seed were obtained when Amaranth was planted with 50 cm row spacing. The yields were also slightly lower when the rows were 100 cm apart. Small areas of Amaranth, up to 0,5 ha, can be sown with vegetable drills. The Senior single-row drill is particularly suitable. Before sowing, the area must be marked with a tractor or manual marker. Sowing Amaranth by hand is quite difficult and the crop is very uneven. This can only be done if they are grown for fodder. When growing Amaranth in the garden for salads or bouquets, and with a small number of seeds of a good variety, it is advisable to sow the seed at the beginning of April in boxes in the greenhouse and to plant the seedlings outdoors in mid-May at a spacing of 50 cm x 50 cm. They are well established, grow well, and mature faster.

Seed rate

The seed rate depends very much on the sowing method and the quality of the soil preparation. When sown sparsely, they grow branched, tall, and with the stalks, making them difficult to harvest mechanically. The plant yields about 50 000 seeds. If sown too densely, they grow as low as a brush and do not produce high yields. In our trials, the best seed yields were obtained with 4 kg/ha of 100% economic value seed. Yields were 20% lower at 2 kg/ha and 38% lower at 8 kg/ha. The optimum seed rate is considered to be when the borage grows to a height of 120-180 cm.

Amaranth seeds
Amaranth seeds

How to control weeds

Weeds are the most important and biggest problem in the agrotechnical management of Amaranth. So far, there are no registered herbicides suitable for weed crops. Even the mild herbicide basagran is susceptible to weeds. We have succeeded in eradicating the borers with fusillade (1 kg/ha). On the other hand, bindweed is a dietary product and it would be blasphemous to use pesticides. It is, therefore, necessary to choose weed-free counter-seeds or even use fallow land. It is advisable to delay sowing for at least 1-2 weeks and to use a harrow to kill weeds that have germinated in the prepared soil during that period. The most critical period for weed growth is a few weeks after sowing. During this period, weed growth is slow and it is necessary to loosen the row spacing and weed out larger weeds in the rows. Once the Amaranth has grown to 30 cm, no weeds are able to outcompete and overtake it. The last cultivation can be used to strim the plants to strengthen them and reduce the risk of wilting. Clean crops not only mean higher yields but also less seed loss during harvesting and cleaning. It should be known that the Amaranth may suffer damage and almost not germinate if the precursor has been sprayed with certain herbicides. This can be avoided by growing Amaranth under fallow on an organic farm. When grown under brassicas and conventional herbicides are used, brassicas, unlike oilseed rape, disappear completely.

How to fertilize

Amaranth is quite demanding of nutrients. Their seeds contain about 3% nitrogen, 9.6% phosphorus and 0.5% potassium. So, with a seed yield of around 1.34 t/ha, 40.3 kg/ha of N, 7.8 kg/ha of P, and 6.7 kg/ha of K are removed from the soil. In addition, they need calcium, magnesium, and trace elements. Fertilization trials have been carried out in the USA, Russia, and some other countries. It has been found that in order to obtain higher yields on turf soils, it is necessary to apply nitrogen per hectare. Applying more nitrogen can lead to more nitrates in the green mass, crop drying out, and nitrogen losses. Nitrates accumulate in denser crops. Nitrogen is highest in growing crops and phosphorus and potassium in maturing crops. According to the literature, the optimum fertilization rate, as for most cereal species, is N. PK. People in traditional growing regions know that the best way to fertilize Amaranth is with organic fertilizer. When Amaranth is treated with organic fertilizers (thick and liquid manure, compost, and even municipal waste rot), the biomass yield increases by a factor of 1.5_2. For the tail weevil (A. caudatus) and the broom weevil (A. paniculatus), a rate of 20-30 t/ha of organic fertilizer is recommended at a rate of 60-100.

Diseases and pests

In our trials, there have been cases of dead seedlings and even adult plants. Small colonies of aphids were sometimes observed. In Poland, Phomopsis amaranthicola, occasionally Phoma spp. and Alternaria, and some other fungi were found to be the most common fungi affecting the borers. According to the literature, Phytium, Rhizoctonia and some other soil fungi can damage the seedlings of Amaranth, while the leaves can be affected by spotted fungi. In the USA, Amaranth growers have not yet suffered significant economic losses due to pathogens, but these may occur as the area expands. For example, soya beans have been virtually disease-free since their introduction in that country. Now they are affected by over 50 diseases.

Among the pests that sometimes affect the Amaranth are the Lygus flea beetle, the amaranth weevil, and the grape aphid. There are no data on the use of fungicides or insecticides in production crops.

Harvesting and cleaning

Most varieties of borage under our conditions are green by the end of the growing season, although most of the seeds are already ripe, which makes harvesting the seeds very difficult. In many Amaranth growing regions, the optimum time to harvest with a combine harvester is 5-10 days after a hard frost. In the dry autumn, this is easy and any combined harvester will be able to harvest them perfectly for clover and other small-grained crops. The seeds are very loose and the combined harvester must be well sealed. It is recommended to cultivate Amaranth with stubble at least 50 cm high (no clods of soil will enter the hopper). When frost-free Amaranth is threshed, a large number of seeds stick to the leaves and parts of the stems, resulting in a high yield loss. Small areas can be dried in lightning and threshed with a combined harvester or by hand on a tarpaulin. The seeds are 20-30 % moisture when they are threshed and must be dried immediately to 1013 % moisture. If there are many impurities, it is advisable to plow the seeds before drying. Once dried, the seeds can be cleaned well with a harp or an OPS-1 cleaning column.

Drying of seed inactive ventilation units is best done in dense fabric bags. Seeds dry in 10-20 hours at 30°C and remain germinated for 5 years or more. In the USA, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, and other countries, borage seeds are packed in 0,4-2 kg packages and can be found in almost all health food stores. A kilo costs around EUR 3-5. Processors of flour, popcorn, pasta, and many other food products buy Amaranth in bulk and in packs of 30-50 kg. Up to 1 % of dark-grained Amaranth impurities are allowed.

Seeds are also used for animal feed.

FAQ

What does amaranth taste like?

Amaranth has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor that is similar to other grains like quinoa or wheat. It can be cooked as a hot cereal, added to soups or stews, or popped like popcorn. Amaranth can also be ground into flour and used in baking. When popped, amaranth kernels have a light, nutty flavor that is similar to popcorn. Amaranth flour can be used in place of wheat or other grain flours in baking. Amaranth leaves have a slightly bitter taste and are often used in salads or as a green leafy vegetable side dish.

How superweeds like amaranth changing agriculture?

Amaranth is a type of weed that is becoming more and more common in agricultural fields. Amaranth is difficult to control because it can grow quickly and spread easily. Amaranth can also Hybridize with other plants, which makes it even harder to control. Amaranth is a problem for farmers because it competes with crops for space, water, and nutrients. Amaranth can also harbor diseases and pests that can damage crops.

The presence of amaranth in agricultural fields is changing the way that farmers have to farm. Farmers must now devote more time and resources to weed control. They may need to use different herbicides or change their tillage practices. Amaranth is also changing the way that farmers think about weed control. Amaranth is forcing farmers to rethink their approach to weed management and to look for new ways to control this difficult weed.

How to cook amaranth leaves?

Amaranth leaves are a popular ingredient in many cuisines, and they can be cooked in a variety of ways. Amaranth leaves can be steamed, sauteed, stir-fried, or used in soups or stews. When cooking amaranth leaves, be sure to remove the tough stems before cooking. Amaranth leaves are best cooked with other vegetables or in dishes with bold flavors.

1. To steam amaranth leaves, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the amaranth leaves. Cover the pot and steam the leaves for 3-5 minutes, or until they are tender.

2. To saute amaranth leaves, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the amaranth leaves and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until they are wilted.

3. To stir-fry amaranth leaves, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over high heat. Add the amaranth leaves and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they are tender.

4. To use amaranth leaves in soups or stews, add them to the pot during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Amaranth leaves can also be added to salads or used as a garnish.

How to make amaranth flour?

Amaranth flour is a gluten-free, healthy alternative to wheat flour. It’s perfect for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance and can be used in a variety of recipes. Amaranth flour is high in protein and fiber and has a nutty flavor that pairs well with sweet or savory dishes.

To make amaranth flour, start by grinding amaranth seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor. You can also purchase pre-ground amaranth flour at most health food stores. Amaranth flour can be used in place of wheat flour in many recipes, such as pancakes, bread, and cookies. When baking with amaranth flour, be sure to add extra liquid to your recipes as amaranth flour is more absorbent than wheat flour. You can also use amaranth flour to thicken sauces or soups. Amaranth flour can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to six months.

What is puffed Amaranth?

Breakfast food it is!

Puffed Amaranth is a healthy and nutritious alternative to other puffed grains like rice and wheat. Amaranth is gluten-free, so it is perfect for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Amaranth is also high in fiber, so it can help with digestion.

So if you’re looking for a healthy and delicious way to start your day, try puffed Amaranth!

How do you pronounce amaranth?

The word amaranth comes from the Greek Amarantos, meaning “unfading” or “everlasting”. Amaranth is pronounced as “uh-MAR-uhnth”.

What family does amaranth belong to?

Amaranth is a plant that is part of the Amaranthaceae family. This family contains plants that are known for their flowers, which are often brightly colored. Amaranth is native to regions in Central and South America, but it is now grown all over the world. The Amaranthaceae family also includes other plants such as Amaranthus, Celosia, and Gomphrena. These plants are all known for their pretty flowers, which is why they are often used in decorative arrangements. Amaranth is a popular plant to use in gardens because it is easy to grow and care for.

When to pinch Amaranth?

The best time to pinch amaranth is when the plant is 6-8 inches tall. Amaranth can be pinched multiple times throughout the growing season to encourage bushier growth. Pinching also helps to prevent the plant from getting too leggy.

How to make amaranth as a cereal?

If you’re looking for a nutritious breakfast option, amaranth cereal is a great choice. To make amaranth cereal, simply cook the grain in milk or water until it’s soft. Then, add your favorite toppings and enjoy! Amaranth cereal can be enjoyed hot or cold, so it’s perfect for any time of year.

Where does amaranth grow naturally?

Amaranth is a plant that is native to South America. Amaranth can be found in Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, and Argentina. Amaranth is also found in Mexico and the Caribbean.

How many lbs of amaranth grain can you grow on 1 acre?

Amaranth is a grain that yields a large amount of grain. One acre of amaranth can yield up to 8,000 pounds of grain. Amaranth is a high-yielding crop that can produce a large amount of grain. Amaranth is a good crop to grow if you are looking to produce a large amount of grain.

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