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Compared with other grains, research on amaranth is quite limited. Additional work on cultural requirements, plant breeding, food technology, and nutrition is needed to determine the potential and to discern the appropriate niche of amaranth in relation to other grains.

RESEARCH NEEDS

Agronomists have already improved kiwicha by breeding plants of uniform height with sturdy, wind-resistant stalks and high-yielding seedheads that hold onto their seeds until they can be harvested. The interrelated responses to a complex variety of climates, soil conditions, pests, and diseases have also been worked out for several cultivars. Among research yet to be done is the following:

  • The further collection and evaluation of germplasm to assess the range of genetic diversity. Daylength-neutral types should be sought, especially in the most southern regions of kiwicha's occurrence.

  • The expansion of adaptability trials to study the effects of environmental variation on different landraces. One test, for example, is needed to determine if red in the plant's coloration is correlated with frost resistance, as it is in some other crops.

  • The determination of optimal growing practices under various environmental and cultural conditions.

  • The improvement of harvesting techniques for increasing grain uniformity and reducing contamination.

  • The improvement of processing methods, such as those for cleaning and grinding the seeds.

  • The development of ways to substitute amaranth in popular food products that have poor nutritional quality.

  • The breaking of the “daylength barrier.” Perhaps crossing kiwicha with other species, such as Amaranthus hypochondriacus or A. cruentus, could expand the range of latitudes where kiwicha can be grown, and maybe even increase the seed size.

SPECIES INFORMATION

Botanical Name Amaranthus caudatus Linnaeus

Family Amaranthaceae

Synonyms Amaranthus edulis, Amaranthus mantegazzianus

Common Names

Quechua: kiwicha, quihuicha, inca jataco; ataco, ataku, sankurachi, jaguarcha (Ecuador), millmi, coimi

Aymara: qamasa



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