Please note what crops you consider to be staples, especially for small scale production

0 (0%)
Beans and other Legumes
0 (0%)
Winter Squash
0 (0%)
3 (60%)
Sweet Potatoes
0 (0%)
2 (40%)

Total Members Voted: 5

Author Topic: Staple Food Crops  (Read 1329 times)

Steph S

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #15 on: 2019-12-15, 09:11:27 AM »
 Gophers is a new one for staple crop!  :D  Between the deer, moose, rabbit, and other staple eaters I guess  there's always a fall back if they leave you hungry enough.   When I see rabbits about in the oregano, I like to think of them as "self seasoning".  ;)
The only way I can grow any vegs here is by fencing the vegs in small pens, and letting the animals roam through and munch on the perennials.  Moose will steer away from my garlic beds (which they otherwise trample) if I put up a simple rail that they can see.   Row cover, tied on and flapping, is a better all purpose veggie fence than chicken wire or anything like that, here.   Rabbits and squirrels that would find a way through wire stay away from the row cover wrap.  Rats are another story, nothing seems to bother them.  :(
I have a dream... to build "the great moose bypass"  that is a sort of corridor lined with their favorite things that would channel them happily away from my garden.   Shrubs of all sorts, black currants and evening primrose for the ladies,  an oak or two for the fellas.  Sigh. ::)


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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #16 on: 2020-05-29, 05:54:08 PM »
I am in the humid subtropics but we get pretty regular droughts in Australia. Last spring we went for about 7 months without any real rain.

I have trialed just about every grain you can imagine here, but we have clouds of birds of many different species. Amaranth does OK but the germination is finicky (needs high nitrate in soil to get going?) and the yield isnt high enough to be considered a staple. I have a strain of white maize I have developed that is fairly bird resistant but not super reliable since we need wet weather to get it going and dry to harvest a decent quality product, which only happens about every second year. Planting a big crop and getting nothing half the time is pretty off putting. Rice also stands up to birds surprisingly well, and doesnt suffer as much from wet at harvest, but I need to find a simple way to hull it to justify scaling up. Genetic diversity available in rice is pretty limited here as well. Dry legumes also suffer from inconsistent wet/dry cycles, plus a nasty sucking bug that ruins most species, but luckily lima beans have proven themselves worthwhile and I recently found a source for wider genetics to work with. I am also developing seed pumpkin strains from a few different moschata types that grow like weeds here. The low tech production of a high value product that stores easily in a humid climate is a big plus.

Tuber crops seem to be the place to focus for me, though they have issues as well. Potatoes grow really well through our late summer/autumn when we normally get good rain, but storing tubers in our warm climate all through spring and summer without refrigeration is very difficult. Some years I can also grow a spring crop, but if we get a spring drought then I can lose all my stock. I was hopeful of figuring out a way to grow strains from seed to get around this but I am still experimenting. Sweet potato grow very well here but our cracking clay soil makes weevils a major issue, so the crop cannot be relied upon. I am experimenting with other Ipomoea species. Even cassava has a hard time with bandicoots digging up the roots before harvest (even in high cyanide forms). Luckily winged yams and canna do really well here. I am breeding canna and collecting yam diversity to try producing seed. If I can't breed a crop I don't consider it to be a long term staple to rely on. Cocoyam, taro, Calathea allouia and Maranta arundinacea will always only be minor subcrops for this reason. I am considering becoming a starch extraction specialist, since the same equipment that purifies starch from canna can also be used on Typha roots at a different time of year. I am also starting work with Plectranthus as a tuber crop, but need to find a source of P. esculentus to really get going as P. rotundifolius is a bit too water dependent/tropical to do well here.

We also have a few tree staple crops. I am trialing chestnuts but it might be too humid for them to be a major crop here, but preliminary results are pretty good. They mature quickly so I might be able to get somewhere with them. We also have a legume tree called black bean (Castanospermum) that produces huge starchy seeds. They are also packed with toxins that can be removed by roasting and soaking in running water as the natives did. I reckon I could do starch extraction on them instead, similar to how mung beans are turned into starch in Asia, as a way to detoxify instead. We also have the massive bunya nut tree (Araucaria bidwillii) that I am collecting local diversity from, hoping to cross with the related parana pine from Brazil in the future to domesticate the genus. I am also trialling Schotia from south africa, which has fairly large starchy seeds that are meant to be edible after roasting. Macadamia grows like a weed here and I am planting lots of them as an oily nut crop.


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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #17 on: 2020-06-03, 01:07:37 PM »
Iíve been mostly experimenting with squashes and less common root crops.  Taro did really well here last year, and we like the taste.  Shrugged off the hot humidity and was super easy to harvest by pulling up the main stem.  I would like to collect some flowering types and try for seed.  I really like yacon as well, and plan to perfect yacon chips for a winter staple.  What Iíve been focusing on is starting to breed Dioscorea polystachya.  I now have a population with different sexes and chromosome numbers.  D. polystachya is very well adapted to my climate and tastes good.  The issue is the difficulty harvesting, but now I have some types that arenít so troublesome.  Should be a good staple here than can even perennialize in less cultivated parts of the landscape.  I like Apios americana a lot as well for the high protein and flavor.  Iím growing some improved selections and look forward to growing out seedlings and trying some mutation style breeding or graft mutagenesis with them.  Not many people know that Solomans seals/Polygonatum have been used as staple foods both in North America and Asia.  Some species even have large potato like rhizomes.  Iím putting together and population of species that have been used as staples to make inter species crosses.  The goal is to increase vigor and suitability as a good crop.  Polygonatum grows best in 50% shade and is grown as a perennial so occupies an unusual niche for a staple crop.