The GRAIN TRIALS project launched in spring 2018 on a small plot with 100 seeds each of twelve varieties. The trial plot was located at Los Luceros Historic Farm and Ranch north of Espanola on the Rio Grande. Los Luceros is a stated-owned historic property with 140 acres mostly in apple orchards. We were grateful to have access to a place to grow our grains and for the support of the Los Luceros staff and especially for the availability of the irrigation water, which was especially important for the spring trials.
We trialed grains at Los Luceros for three seasons before moving our operation in October, 2019, La Villita Farm in La Villita, NM, expanding from trial quantities to seed increase quantities of our most successful varieties. With the move came a project name change from “Los Luceros Heritage Grains” to “Rio Grande Grains.”
Spring & Fall Seasonal Trials
Over four growing seasons starting in spring, 2018, we have trialed nearly 50 varieties of grain and pseudo grain. Most of the seeds have come from Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance (RMSA), a few have been shared with us by growers in other parts of the Mountain West and a few from Maine.
Wheat: White Einkorn, Greek Einkorn, Emmer, Black Emmer, Ethiopian Blue Tinged Emmer, Moroccan Emmer, Iraq Durum, Kubanka Durum, Sonoran White, Sin-El Pheel, Khorasan/Kamut, Turkey Red, Red Fife, Spelt, Milagre, Mirabella, Marquis, Rouge de Bordeaux, Sirvinta, Polvatka, Jammu, Baart Early, Banatka, Club Pima, Japnet, Pacific Bluestem
Rye: Cache Valley, Uli Hache, Rebel, Swiss Mountain, Abruzzi
Barley: Milan, Tibetan Purple, Arabian Blue, Full Pint, Alba, Purple Dolma, Sheba
Sorghum: Brown Dura, Tepejuano Popping
Buckwheat: Madawaska, Tokyo
Amaranth: Opopeo, Red Dye
Quinoa: High Desert, Faro
Winter 2019 Seed Increase Initiative
Team member Alessandra Haines evaluates our Fall 2019-planted grains in these videos.
More videos from Fall/Winter 2019-2020 planting
More data on our grain trials and seed increase project, including planting dates, germination rate, harvest date, and yield can be found by clicking these links to our data sets: Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Winter 2018, Spring 2018.
Team member Ron Boyd has, from our first trials in spring 2018, provided the grower expertise and equipment without which we could not have contemplated this journey. When in fall 2019 we moved the project from Los Luceros to Ron and Debora Clare’s farm, they offered us the use of 1/4 acre to embark on actual seed increase. Ron’s great generosity of spirit, knowledge, community engagement, and the use of his farm implements and tools, including the walk-behind seeder, irrigation equipment, sickles, and most especially his brand new small-scale combine, which is essential for harvesting/threshing grains in small fields, have made our grain trials possible.
Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance Heritage Grain Trials Program
Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance has over 80 growers in its network who are discovering which grains thrive in the mountain and restoring the seed stock of nearly extinct ancient and heritage varieties. RMSA provides a small quantity of seeds, along with technical assistance, to growers with the expectation that the grower will return double the seeds back to RMSA and will maintain and share data such as germination rates, yield, vigor, days to maturity, height, tillering, and evaluations of desirability in baking and brewing. Learn more about the RMSA Grain Trials program, here.