Growing buckwheat in Switzerland: new varieties for an old niche crop

Interest in buckwheat production has been growing for several years now in Switzerland. Previously, this field crop had almost completely been forgotten. Since it is not related to other arable crops, buckwheat is ideal for breaking up crop rotations. It is also interesting from a nutritional point of view, as it contains zinc and selenium, and offers a gluten-free alternative to grain products for those who are gluten-intolerant. In order to produce recommendations for modern buckwheat cultivation in Switzerland, fourteen buckwheat varieties of different origin were grown between 2015 and 2018 in small-plot trials and compared in terms of their agronomic characteristics. The French variety La Harpe, which is cultivated in Switzerland, served as a reference crop here. In addition, the effects of different sowing densities on growth and yield were investigated using the varieties Devyatka and La Harpe. The variety trials showed that the newer breeds from Russia not only produced higher yields but also show a good early vigor and, due to their limited growth, remained shorter than other varieties, which simplifies harvesting in a direct threshing process. By contrast, investigating sowing density provided no conclusive answer to the question of optimal density: although yields tend to decrease with increasing sowing density, optimal sowing density should be determined on the basis of the situation in question, with 180 seeds/m² being a good initial density.

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