Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench)

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Known as ‘poor people's food', buckwheat was traditionally grown in Graubünden canton, particularly in the municipality of Poschiavo. Cultivation was gradually abandoned in the mid-1950s, and unfortunately no original varieties have been preserved.

Buckwheat can be cultivated either as a main crop or as green manure. A tireless bloomer, it offers a superb source of nectar and pollen for bees - but it is precisely this attribute that makes it difficult to determine harvest time, and/or makes the harvest highly work-intensive.

Around 200 t of buckwheat is imported annually into Switzerland, which at an a average yield of 2 t/ha corresponds to a cultivated area of 100 ha.

Challenges

When cultivating varieties with an indeterminate growth habit (perennial blooming), it is difficult to determine the optimal harvest time. In some cases the seeds must be hulled before further processing – another time-consuming procedure.  

Small-plot trials

Testing of various varieties of buckwheat in terms of their agronomic properties.