Tartary Buckwheat Germplasm Evaluation
Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) is a close relative of common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), with many of the same uses and also some additional beneficial traits. Tartary buckwheat is generally much more difficult to de-hull, so the entire seed is typically ground into flour, which can impart a bitter flavor (the plant is sometimes called "bitter buckwheat" or "green buckwheat"). The original ployes of Quebec were made from Tartary buckwheat flour, and Quebec continues to have the most well developed Tartary buckwheat industry in North America, with seeds and flour available to purchase in health food stores. In parts of east Asia, especially China, Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal, the plant is still commonly grown both as a grain and for a medicinal tea (made from the entire plant).
It is the most potent natural source of rutin, a powerful antioxidant, but it is seldom used commercially as a rutin source (though many companies now sell rutin as a supplement).
Like common buckwheat, Tartary buckwheat also has potential value as a honey plant and a cover crop.
There are also rumors of perennial strains of Tartary buckwheat, and the possibility exists of interspecific hybridization between Tartary buckwheat and wild perennial relatives (like Fagopyrum dibotrys), or between Tartary and common buckwheat.
Our aim is to evaluate the 76 accessions we received from the USDA, along with a few we've gathered on our own, for agronomic qualities, first and foremost perenniality (but also yield, even seed ripening, seed quality, biomass production, etc). Once we've increased seed stocks on each accession, we also plan to have each accession tested for rutin content.
Volunteers will likely be asked to grow only one accession of Tartary buckwheat this year. In future years, the most interesting accessions will be studied further.