Read our Blog

Heat and Drought Tolerant Varieties from NS/S

Originally published 3/18/2014

In the recent book Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land (PB1058), Native Seeds/SEARCH co-founder Gary Nabhan discusses how farmers and gardeners are desperately seeking ways to adapt how they grow food in a world of climate change. One solution promoted by Nabhan is to to grow varieties that are best suited to warmer, drier climates such as those originating from the Greater Southwest region conserved in the NS/S Seed Bank. Many are traditionally dry-farmed, surviving on rainfall and soil moisture without the use of irrigation, and are well adapted to the extreme heat and drought that are part of “the new normal” of global climatic uncertainty.

Here are some of our favorite heat and drought tolerant varieties. Click on the descriptions to purchase seed from our webstore or visit the NS/S Retail shop in Tucson. We offer over 450 varieties of open-pollinated, GMO-free seeds of landrace and heirloom varieties from the Greater Southwest. Your membership and support of Native Seeds/SEARCH allows us to continue our increasingly important work in conserving unique arid-adapted crops. Consider becoming a member today.

Tepary Beans The world's most drought adapted beans, known to survive on summer rains alone. Protein and fiber rich. Try Sacaton Brown (PT004), Big Fields White (PT109), and Black (PT082) in the low desert, or Blue Speckled (PT079) and Paiute White (PT084) if your climate is milder.

Beit Alpha Cucumber Thin skinned and crisp. An early fruiting, productive plant bred for the desert. TS319 New Listing!

Tohono O’odham “U’us mu:n” Cowpea Excellent for green beans in the low desert, or let them mature and dry for beautiful black & white dry beans. Cowpeas originate from the desert regions of Africa. V006

Jericho Lettuce Large, bright green romaine heads. Bred in Israel to cope with heat and drought. TS126

Apache Red Sugarcane Sorghum Chew the stalk like candy when ripe; beautiful red seedheads attract birds. Sorghum is originally from the deserts of Africa. S001

Mayo Grain Amaranth Pick young for nice summer salad greens, or let mature for beautiful seedheads and seeds. C003

Chapalote “Pinole Maiz” Pop the deep brown to tan kernels, or grind for a sweet meal great for pinole. Late maturing. Star of dry-land field experiments at the Conservation Farm. ZP090

Del Arbol Chile Long, thin, hot chiles used for salsa or to increase heat in any dish. Best performer in our punishing 2012 test plot in Tucson. D001

Beck’s Gardenville Okra A Texas heat loving heirloom from San Antonio, vigorous and productive plants. Harvest continues over several months. OK002

Hopi Red Watermelon One of the sweetest watermelons in the NS/S collection. Traditionally dry-farmed in northeastern Arizona. G001

Punta Banda Tomato Produces red, meaty, thick skinned fruits despite heat, water stress and poor soil. TM007

Pima Orange Lima Bean Beautiful orange color with black stripes from the Gila River Indian Community in central Arizona. PL011

Magdalena Big Cheese Excellent producer of large squashes with a flattened pumpkin shape and sweet orange flesh. EM031

Nichols Tomato Pink cherry tomatoes keep coming throughout the summer. Heirloom maintained by the Nichols family in Tucson for over 50 years. TM014

Rattlesnake Bean Can survive on summer monsoon rains alone. Harvest young for sweet green beans. TS305

What are some of your favorite varieties that thrive in hot, dry conditions? Are you experiencing "the new normal" in your area?

Native Seeds/SEARCH is a 501(c)(3). Copyright © 2015 Native Seeds/SEARCH. All Rights Reserved.