Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center

Vegetable Research and Extension

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Leaf Amaranth Variety Trial


Love Lies Bleeding Green

The origin of amaranth cultivation is at least 8000 years ago in the Americas, where it was grown mainly for grain. When Spanish conquistadors came to the Americas in the 1500s, they prohibited amaranth production, and to this day it is not a major crop in the region. However, after the 1500s, amaranth was carried around the globe, and production was both as a grain crop and a leaf/vegetable crop. Today, leaf amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor) is a popular food crop throughout Asia, Africa, China, and the Caribbean. While leaf amaranth is not common in most regions of the U.S., it is popular at farmers markets in some areas, especially in regions where immigrants are concentrated. The market for leaf amaranth has potential to grow due to its high nutritional value – it is rich in protein, iron, vitamin A and C, and minerals ? and its ability to thrive in hot temperatures.

Green leaf amaranth is traditionally eaten as a cooked vegetable, much like spinach, and may also be eaten fresh, though it can be somewhat bitter. Red leaf amaranth may have potential as a baby leaf salad green as it may be faster growing than beet greens. In Washington, leaf amaranth may have potential as a new crop, especially in urban areas with ethnic populations. However, western Washington has cooler average summer temperatures than regions where leaf amaranth has been demonstrated to grow well. A study in Fort Valley, GA found that ideal soil and air temperatures for amaranth growth are 77oF (25oC), and that maximum leaf biomass was produced when the crop grew during the hottest part of the summer.

In order to gather information about how leaf amaranth performs in a region with cooler temperatures, this preliminary study was carried out at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC. On 10 June 2016, 26 leaf amaranth varieties were direct seeded into individual plots. Plots were harvested 3-6 times based on plant growth, on 8, 21 and 29 July, and 9, 24 and 31 August. Plants were first harvested when they were 6-8 inches tall, and were cut about 3 inches above the soil surface. At the first harvest of each variety, the number of plants was counted. The days to first harvest, average yield per harvest and a photo of each variety is presented below. Varieties are characterized as red, green, green/red (variegated), or green and red (on the same plant, some leaves were entirely green and some were entirely red).

Full 2016 Variety Trial Report

Photos of 26 leaf amaranth varieties, and the days to first harvest, average yield (g) per harvest and average weight (g) of 100 plants (for comparison purposes). Varieties are characterized as red, green, green/red (variegated), or green and red (on the same plant, some leaves were entirely green and some were entirely red).

All Red Leaf
Red
41 days to first harvest
206.8 g (avg wt per harvest)
1292.6 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Aurelia’s Verde
Green
28 days to first harvest
513.3 g (avg wt per harvest)
1283.2 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Dreadlocks
Green/Red
28 days to first harvest
324.2 g (avg wt per harvest)
334.2 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Elena’s Rojo
Red/Green
28 days to first harvest
453.6 g (avg wt per harvest)
708.7 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Elephant Head
Green/Red
28 days to first harvest
377.3 g (avg wt per harvest)
194.5 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Golden Giant
Green
28 days to first harvest
323.5 g (avg wt per harvest)
449.3 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Green Calaloo
Green
28 days to first harvest
662.7 g (avg wt per harvest)
463.4 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Green Thumb
Green
28 days to first harvest
454.8 g (avg wt per harvest)
230.8 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Hopi Red Dye
Red
28 days to first harvest
607.4 g (avg wt per harvest)
355.2 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Juana’s Orange
Green
28 days to first harvest
441.4 g (avg wt per harvest)
304.4 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Love Lies Bleeding
Green/Red
28 days to first harvest
289.0 g (avg wt per harvest)
672.2 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Love Lies Bleeding Green
Green/Red
28 days to first harvest
345.2 g (avg wt per harvest)
585.1 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Mercado
Green
41 days to first harvest
458.6 g (avg wt per harvest)
2547.9 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Miriah
Green/Red
41 days to first harvest
405.0 g (avg wt per harvest)
1620.0 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Molten Fire
Red
41 days to first harvest
78.9 g (avg wt per harvest)
876.3 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Oeschberg
Red
28 days to first harvest
421.6 g (avg wt per harvest)
669.2 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Opopeo
Green and Red
28 days to first harvest
331.7 g (avg wt per harvest)
2551.2 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Orange Giant
Green
28 days to first harvest
237.5 g (avg wt per harvest)
308.4 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Poinsettia Mix
Red and Green
49 days to first harvest
96.9 g (avg wt per harvest)
1615.0 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Pygmy Torch
Green/Red
28 days to first harvest
351.9 g (avg wt per harvest)
198.8 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Red Beauty
Red/Green
49 days to first harvest
89.0 g (avg wt per harvest)
4450.0 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Red Calaloo
Red/Green
28 days to first harvest
506.3 g (avg wt per harvest)
359.0 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Red Garnet1
Red
28 days to first harvest
367.6 g (avg wt per harvest)
404.4 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Red Leaf
Red/Green
41 days to first harvest
256.9 g (avg wt per harvest)
282.3 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

Skao Duen
Green
60 days to first harvest
52.6 g (avg wt per harvest)
1316.0 g (avg wt per 100 plants)

White Leaf
Green
41 days to first harvest
362.8 g (avg wt per harvest)
3298.2 g (avg wt per 100 plants)


1 Red Garnet was from 2 seed sources, and each was planted in a separate plot. Photo shows plants from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, while other plants’ seeds were from Kitazawa Seed Co. Average weight per harvest and average weight per 100 plants is an average of the 2 plots.

 

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