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Adopt-A-Crop Update 2021

| Joel Johnson

Thank you to everyone who donated to the 2021 Adopt-A-Crop fundraiser. Here's an update on how all of the crops are doing!

Atlixco Quelite: The durability of this lamb’s quarters relative has been incredible to watch. Before July brought long-awaited rain to the Sonoran Desert, the crops in the Conservation Center grow-out gardens first had to endure weeks of June temperatures that reached 117°F. These quelites have grown steadily through the near-record-high temperatures as well as the record rainfall that followed close behind. The plants—some over seven feet tall—are still green, but we are watching flower clusters closely for signs of seed development so we can reap a substantial seed increase.
baart wheat drying

Baart Wheat: As we harvested our Baart Wheat crop throughout the month of May, AG Outreach and Education Manager, Dr. Andrea Carter, pointed out the value of heritage grains. The stalks were noticeably shorter than the previous year, the result of a dry winter, but even in a period of drought, they outgrew the height of most hybrid varieties and produced plenty of seed increase. Dwarf and semi-dwarf wheats account for 99% of all wheat production, but studies show that under drought conditions, tall, heritage grains like this Baart wheat can outperform modern varieties. Seed Distribution Coordinator, Dick Gase, and Seed Lab volunteers continue to process the Baart wheat, which will likely be available in the fall seed catalog for winter planting. In late July a healthy crop of Baart Wheat was also harvested by Partner Farmer Matthew Draper of North Valley Organics in Albuquerque, NM.

Rock Corral Canyon Chiltepin
Rock Corral Canyon Chiltepin: In 1999, Native Seeds/SEARCH collaborated to establish the Wild Chile Botanical Area in Arizona’s Tumacacori Mountains. This region represents the northernmost habitat for wild chiltepin plants. Rock Corral Canyon chiltepin was first harvested in 1986 from an 8-foot-tall chiltepin plant growing in a sheltered area that is now the reserve. Over 30 of these plants were germinated earlier this summer and have been planted around the shadier north side of the Conservation Center. The first chiltepins are just starting to ripen, so we’ll harvest new seeds in the coming weeks.
Kickapoo White Tepary Bean
Kickapoo White Tepary: Perhaps the only plants in our gardens that didn’t benefit from the heavy monsoon rains were the Kickapoo White teparies. These beans were already well established, so over the month of July they tripled in size, growing tall and bushy. Bean pods were notably absent from these healthy plants, because an overabundance of water can limit tepary blooms. But as temperatures climbed back into the triple digits during dry periods in August and September, tepary blossoms made an appearance as well. We’ve since successfully harvested mature seed for new regeneration samples and a later planting is setting seed in the courtyard of the Conservation Center.
mojave sweet corn seeds
Mojave Sweet Corn: Timing and crop adaptation are key to successful desert farming, yet weather is unpredictable. The corn planted in July did not make it through the summer heat at Ft. Mojave. Traversing present day Arizona, California, and Nevada, agricultural fields of the Ft. Mojave were subject to a max temperature of 120 degrees this June. Fortunately, not all of the seeds were planted, so our partner farmer will replant next year. Thankfully, their other crops of Moctezuma Cushaw and Colorado River Devil's claw are coming in beautifully!