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Quinoa Production Catching On In Idaho
When his son developed Celiac’s disease and grew intolerant of gluten-based foods, Jeremiah Clark and his wife looked for diet options that the youngster could tolerate without making him sick. The Clarks discovered that using quinoa flour was one possibility, but its availability in the U.S. was limited. Clark decided to explore the possibility of raising quinoa himself and recruiting other Idaho farmers to do the same.
  Clark says the fact that he owned and operated a well-known seed cleaning business made the decision all the more logical. Early on he learned that quinoa has been typically raised in the arid regions of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. In the U.S., some producers are growing it on a small scale, but seed is expensive and managing the crop is difficult. Quinoa is heat sensitive, basically intolerant to temperatures above 90 degrees. It needs moisture to grow and thrive, but rain falling on the ripe crop can ruin the crunchy seeds, causing them to sprout on the plant. Once harvested, quinoa has to be carefully cleaned.
  Clark raised a small quantity of seed the first year, cleaned it with his equipment, and took it to a food facility for further processing. From that batch they planted purified seed in 2014 and produced enough seed to plant 400 acres in 2015.
  “There’s a big learning curve raising quinoa compared to other cereal crops,” says Clark. “But I’m confident we can produce a reasonable yield and move forward with a viable business.” He hopes to supply seed to other growers and also produce grain for sale to food distributors. Even though there’s income potential on the horizon, the initial investment is high. To help fund his enterprise Clark launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money from outside investors. “We’ll hopefully expand with more acres in 2016 along with a new set of experiences from another year growing and processing the crop,” says Clark. “There’s definitely potential for U.S. growers, because retailers are getting from $4 to more than $8 a pound from health conscious consumers.”
   Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Clark Seed LLC, 4942 Millcreek Road, Idaho Falls, Idaho 83406 (ph 208 221-5338; www.clarkseed.com).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #1