Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

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Wheatgrass ‘Superfood’ is Gaining Ground

Publication: The Western Producer

Author: Ron Lyseng

Farmers in Minnesota are growing some of the first intermediate wheatgrass developed specifically for human consumption.

Plant scientists are calling the food grade MN-Clearwater “a superfood with environmental and health benefits.”

Wheatgrass has traditionally been used to feed cattle. However, the potential to unleash locked-in nutrition prompted University of Minnesota researchers to embark on a breeding program in hopes of producing food grade wheatgrass. The idea was to have enough farmers growing MN-Clearwater that buyers would be attracted. That goal was reached last fall when the variety was released to the public.

Plant breeder James Anderson told The Western Producer that the Minnesota Land Institute started a wheatgrass breeding program in 2002. In 2011 the university obtained the germplasm and concentrated on turning it into a commercial grain variety.

“We think we can get three or maybe four years out of a planting. Farmers can get one grain harvest per summer or two forage harvests,” said Anderson, adding that so far they’re getting just two good grain harvests. As they work with the plants, he expects to push that up to three or four years of good grain production. Researchers in Kansas are able to get three or four good grain years out of one planting.

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