Amaranth or, as they used to call it, “schyritsa” is a cultivated plant that has been known to humanity for more than 6 thousand years. Even the ancient Incas and Aztecs grew it on a par with corn, worshiping an amazing plant as a deity, and believing that it can give, if not eternal life, but good health.
A bit of history
The Aztecs and the Incas protected amaranth and often used it in ritual sacrifices. When the conquistadors arrived, they began to massively destroy the plant, considering it to be diabolical. Perhaps for this reason, schiritsa was forgotten for so long: it came to the territory of modern Europe only in 1653.
In our country, amaranth was considered a source of longevity and immortality. Seeds, and hence flour, were the basis of the most important thing – bread. That’s just Peter the Great for some reason did not appreciate the charm of anchovy and with his reforms introduced a ban on its use in food. Thus, amaranth became exclusively decorative and fodder culture.
A similar state of affairs existed quite recently: only a couple of decades ago, people began to return amaranth in their diet.
Interestingly: the schirits grows on all continents, except Antarctica.
It is customary to cut amaranth into 4 types:
There are only ornamental plants, so before purchasing a shchiritsa, you need to figure out why it is needed and check with the seller whether the variety he offers is suitable for your purposes.
Today we talk about grain amaranth. Already from the very name it becomes clear that it is grown only for seed production. The leaves are used extremely rarely and mainly as cattle feed, the stems and other parts are fully recognized as waste.
The collected seeds have an amazing value and usefulness, so they make butter or flour from them. Another option for the use of grains – feeding of livestock. Agricultural technologists note that the latter option provides for the rapid growth of animals and improved milk yield.
No matter how wonderful and healing amaranth may be, most of its wonderful properties have not yet received wide distribution. In our homeland, schiritsa is most often used as a fodder plant, and even then only in those farms where managers are not afraid to introduce new, progressive technologies.
Growing grain amaranth
Post this plant is best in areas where a large amount of manure was applied. One-year and perennial leguminous and cereal crops can rightly be considered ideal precursors of amaranth. But It is worth noting that in general the schiritsa is rather unpretentious, therefore, it does not impose any special requirements on its predecessor. The main thing is that he should free the field in time and there will be enough time after it to prepare the ground for good quality.
The best option for soil can be called drained, air-and permeable. Technologists note that despite the unpretentiousness of amaranth, the highest yields can be obtained only on cultivated soils that are moderately or richly supplied with humus and other nutrients. As it was said earlier, the best place to reach is where there was a lot of manure.
It is very important to remember that early sowing is unacceptable. This is because the soil has not warmed up enough to such a moment that it will not give a good progress of amaranth. In every corner of the world, sowing time is set based on temperature conditions, soil composition and characteristics of its moisture. In our lane, it is best to plant shchiritsa after stable weather has been established, and the soil warms to 10-12 degrees.
The ideal time for planting is from May 15 to June 15, with an eye on the current weather conditions, of course. Experiments conducted over several years in the Voronezh region showed that the highest yields are observed in those plants that were planted in the third decade of May. This period is optimal even in the case of abnormally hot summer: due to the dryness of the soil, it is almost impossible to get seedlings at later periods.
Summer sowing also gives good results, but more such an option is suitable for feed amaranth grown for greenery and silage. It can be planted during June-July, subject to high soil moisture. In this situation, you can count on green fodder in September.
The depth of sowing in the dried soil should be 3-4 cm, and in the wet – 1-2 cm. It is very important not to allow surface sowing, as it is proved that the seeds that are not embedded in the soil will not germinate.
It is worth noting right away that amaranth’s seed ripening period is quite extended, so for those who first decided to plant this amazing plant, it is important not to miss the start date of harvesting. Otherwise, the first, and therefore the most viable seeds, can simply crumble.
A clear sign of ripening of amaranth seeds can be considered the appearance on its leaves and stems of cream color. In such a period of time it is easy to see that if you shake the inflorescences, the grains will begin to crumble.
A delay in harvesting often leads to a partial and sometimes very significant loss of harvest. It is also not worthwhile to remove amaranth in advance: most of the seeds simply do not have time to ripen, which means they will have low quality, which is bad for the resulting amaranth oil.
Practice has shown that gardeners who do not have sufficient experience working with amaranth rarely get high results. But you should not get upset and tune in to defeat. With a competent and prepared approach, you can get high quality seeds that can be used to produce oil and other food products.
Varieties of grain amaranth
Today among the farmers the most popular varieties of amaranth can be considered:
Many agronomists consider this type of schichitsa to be the most versatile. All because it can be used not only grain itself, but also greens. True, the latter will not go to your table, but to feed the cattle. In addition, “Kharkiv-1” is famous for its healing properties and high yields at low cost. So, its ripening period is 110 days;
Helios. This variety can be called very popular and at the same time early ripe. The stems of this amazing plant reach 170 cm in height! Inflorescences have an orange tint and are highly resistant to shattering and lodging. The grains of “Helios” are white, having a rounded shape;
“Orange Giant”. Agronomists describe it as a very tall plant. And well deserved, it should be noted! The height of this amaranth variety reaches 2.5 meters in height, and the powerful stems have an orange color. From the seeds of such shchiritsy, an excellent flour is obtained, which has a characteristic nutty flavor;
“Voronezh”. This variety is considered to be early ripening and rather undersized (only 120 centimeters). Voronezh is grown exclusively for grain, since the plant itself does not have a large amount of green mass;
ultra07 “Ultra”. Also an early ripe variety with light green inflorescences and a high oil content in the seeds. “Ultra” in height grows to just 100-130 cm;
“Aztec”. Differs in big productivity of both grain, and green mass. The stems of this amaranth variety are red, reaching 1.5 meters in height. Seeds have a dark brown shade. Variety attributed to mid-season. Agronomists say that if you plant the Aztec late, you can significantly increase the number of leaves on each plant. Thus, the grain crop will turn into fodder.
It is very important not to forget that human nutrition is the basis of his health. For this reason, if you are the happy owner of a small piece of land, lay your own “foundation” – several varieties of amaranth.