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Information for Buckwheat Growers

Northeast Buckwheat Growers Newsletter

No. 15 June 2003
Edited by Thomas Bjorkman, Cornell NYSAES, Geneva NY

2003 Field Day in western New York
The 2003 Northeast Buckwheat Field Day will be held in Batavia, NY, on August 19th from 1 to 4 pm. The field day will be in the west this year to provide an opportunity for growers from western Pennsylvania, Ontario, and the Lake Erie growing area to take advantage of this experience. The area from Batavia to Lockport was a major buckwheat production area in the 1970s and '80s.

The field day will be held at the New York Crop Research Facility, a grower-owned research station that has close ties to Cornell vegetable researchers. It is located just east of the Batavia airport, north of the Thruway. The facility is managed, as of this year, by ACDS research. The buckwheat field day was hosted by them in 2000 and 2001 at their buckwheat trials in Waterloo.

Demonstrations are planned for comparing some older and new varieties, the effect of seeding depth, and the role of buckwheat in a tilth improvement plan.

Buckwheat on the radio
Buckwheat will be the focus of a radio show to be broadcast in the New York City area later this summer.

Ira Kleinman's Restaurant, Food and Travel Show will have a one hour episode with vignettes on travel to the Finger Lakes to see buckwheat fields, a buckwheat mill, and eat at restaurants with imaginative ways to prepare buckwheat. Several local buckwheat personalities were interviewed and may be included in the program.

The show is broadcast on WGCH 1490 AM in Greenwich, CT at 3 pm on Saturdays.

When does buckwheat make more money than corn?
With many fields still to wet to work, some corn growers have asked whether it is better to plant buckwheat than more corn.

With mid-June plantings, corn has modest yields. There is not much profit in it, so alternatives are worth considering.

Here is a sample crop budget comparison. It assumes that you have a field that was plowed for planting corn on June 15, but are considering buckwheat instead. Compare it to your own yield expectations and costs.

Relative return of buckwheat and grain corn in a field not yet planted as of June 15, 1999
  Buckwheat Corn
$102 (20 bu @ $5.12)
$165 (75 bu @ $2.20)
Total variable
Net before fixed costs

The difference in fuel and equipment is because buckwheat requires only fitting, drilling and harvest, whereas corn also requires herbicide application and/or cultivation as well as handling and trucking nearly four times as much product.

Canadian buckwheat planting
CANCUN, Mexico: Brigitte Sabourin of Roy Legumex Inc. did a quick roundup of the production outlook for Canada's other special crops. Sabourin thinks buckwheat acreage will rise to 36,500 acres from 30,000 acres in 2002. Production will be up 15 percent to 14,100 tonnes.

  • From Sean Pratt, The Western Producer: Thursday March 20, 2003

Buckwheat for deer
Many growers know how fond deer are of buckwheat. In southern states, landowners are planting buckwheat to encourage the deer, and to improve their health. With the Northeast's high deer population, that may seem like an odd thing to do. Deer populations there are lower, and maintaining nutrition seems to be important for keeping chronic wasting disease at bay. The Whitetail Institute in Alabama is conducting trials, and the wildlife departments in various states recommend seed mixes that include about 20 lb of buckwheat per acre.

For Northeastern growers, this use represents a potential additional market for seed.

New source of Organic buckwheat seed
Lakeview Organic Grain, in Penn Yan, NY is offering organic buckwheat seed. Lakeview is a new farm supply store in the former Penn Yan Agway building (115 Railroad Place). It is successful so far. Proprietor Mary-Howell Martens says, "were going crazy selling seed" Organic buckwheat seed is sought after for cover crops and weed control on organic farms. The new Federal organic rule requires organic seed. The seed is "variety not stated", so the crop is not suitable for sale to those buyers who specify specific varieties. It is sold with New York Seed Lab germination tests to assure quality. 315-531-1038

Crop insurance for buckwheat continues to move ahead slowly
Effective June 4, 2003, Federal Crop Insurance Corporation amended 7 CFR part 457 to include buckwheat with other small grains. This is one more step in the process to cover buckwheat crop losses.

Insurance will not be made available for buckwheat until the loss procedure has been developed. However, the 2002 feasibility report suggests procedures used for buckwheat will be very similar to those currently in use for other small grains. The USDA will also have to provide county actuarial materials to insurers, and these do not exist for buckwheat in the Northeast. Insurers are particularly concerned because the variation in buckwheat yield is quite high even on the same farm.

The USDA's Risk Management Agency finds that buckwheat is generally produced by growers who already have a Small Grains Crop Insurance Policy in force. Combining buckwheat with other small grains into one policy document when possible reduces paperwork, administrative costs, etc. The difference in the growth and management systems of buckwheat versus wheat will be reflected in the good farming practices for the crop. These practices still need to be defined.

Contracts online
You can view the 2003 grower contract for Birkett Mills online at
The 2003 contract includes the total production provision that is a change from previous years. It is needed to protect rights to the new variety, Koto.

Homestead Organics of Berwick, ONT expects to buy 1000 metric tons of conventional buckwheat and 200 metric tons of organic buckwheat in 2003. They are planning to pay $CDN 350 per metric ton. Visit their website at

Buckwheat Pete has another cookbook out called "Buckwheat Pete Bakes Bread, Bagels & English Muffins." You can get it at

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