Author Topic: Common Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album) Improved Grain Quality  (Read 1206 times)

Ryan M Miller

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Over the past three years, I have begun an attempt to breed common lamb's quarters for improved germination rate and increased seed quality. This year, I only got one out of several hundred seeds to sprout after soaking the seeds in water over night. The resulting plant yielded about 100 g of seeds depending on how much chaff was left over after winnowing. If seed yields like this are consistent for every plant, then I would expect grain yields to approach at least half that of maize when planted at the recommended density for quinoa. Here is a link to a video where I harvest the seeds: https://www.bitchute.com/video/C8wvK9MkS9FU/

In spite of the impressive seed yield for this plant, most of the seeds were not even 1.0 millimeter in diameter from the one plant that sprouted. Strangely, I found much larger seeds from a weedy plant that sprouted out of one of my compost piles nearby. Most of the seeds from this wild plant were the typical 0.75 to 1.0 millimeters in diameter, but a few hundred seeds were at least 1.5 millimeters in diameter since they frequently got stuck in my sieve while I was attempting to remove the chaff from them. Hoping that this trait would carry on to the next generation, I saved these exceptionally large seeds in a packet to plant again next year. I'm hoping a plant with larger seeds will have a more consistent germination rate, be easier to winnow, and have a higher value as a grain crop.

Only in the past four years have I discovered that common lamb's quarters is closely related to quinoa. There is very little information available about growing quinoa online, but there is some agreement that quinoa has a poor tolerance of heat compared with other lamb's quarter species and amaranth. Since common wild lamb's quarters grows wild in North America and thrives well into the heat of summer, I'm assuming it can be bred into a heat-tolerant alternative to quinoa to grow for it's seeds as well as its nutritious greens.

S.Simonsen

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I am interested in this kind of project as well. I am in the subtropics so chenopods are marginal for me, but might be the only viable cool season grain since they are so bird resistant. I am hunting down Peruvian material of quinoa to trial since I am on the same latitude and the more common temperate strains cannot adapt to my daylength patterns. C. album has been a welcome volunteer in my vegetable gardens, but seems to need some kind of soil enrichment and I have almost never seen it growing on unenhanced soil.

This link suggests that interspecies hybridisation in Chenopodium album is possible:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/240321814_Study_on_some_hybrids_from_Chenopodium_album_agg_With_14_Figures_and_2_Tables

I wonder if simply growing C. album among other species (adjusting planting times to get simultaneous flowering) then constantly looking out for any forms with larger seeds would work. Hand pollinating such tiny flowers doesnt appeal but should be doable as well. Another option is to use a range of carefully gradiated sieves to select the biggest seed every season for replanting.

spacecase0

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it grows in my summers, and it is fantastic, would love one with larger seeds.
but the birds where I live eat quite a bit of it.
guess the birds eat all the sorghum...

Ryan M Miller

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Another lamb's quarter species I've discovered is pitseed goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri). This species was independently domesticated both in Mexico and in eastern North America. The northern cultivars were abandoned in favor of corn (maize), but the Mexican cultivars survived into modern times. The cultivated forms of pitseed goosefoot grown in Mexico are called huauzontle. The seeds can be used as a grain, but this plant is primarily eaten as a vegetable. Since pitseed goosefoot is tetraploid unlike common lamb's quarters (C. album) which is diploid, it shouldn't readily cross-pollinate with common lamb's quarters, so I could theoretically improve both species of lamb's quarters at the same time.

S.Simonsen

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I have been looking for C. berlandieri seed for ages. If you manage to find some I would be very grateful if you could send some my way.

Woody Gardener

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I have been looking for C. berlandieri seed for ages. If you manage to find some I would be very grateful if you could send some my way.

[chenopodium berlandieri seeds] brings up several seed sources. I recommend this one:
https://store.underwoodgardens.com/Red-Aztec-Spinach_Huauzontle-Chenopodium-berlandieri/productinfo/V1128/
I'm not interested in preserving heirlooms.
The best seed bank is the living seed bank which is growing every year in people's gardens.
Joseph Lofthouse