Quinoa: An Emerging "New" Crop with Potential for CELSS

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Chenopodium quinoa is being considered as a new crop for the Controlled Ecological Life Support System (CELSS) because of its high protein values (12-18%) and unique amino acid composition. Lysine, an essential amino acid that is deficient in many grain crops, is found in quinoa approaching Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) standards set for humans. This "new" crop, rich in protein and with desirable proportions of important amino acids, may provide greater versatility in meeting the needs of humans on long-term space missions. Initially, the cultivars CO407 x ISLUGA, CO407 Heat Tolerant Population 1, and Real' (a Bolivian variety) were examined. The first cultivar showed the most promise in greenhouse studies. When grown hydroponically in the greenhouse, with no attempt to maximize productivity, this cultivar produced 202 g m -2 with a harvest index of 37%. None of the cultivars were greater than 70 cm in height. Initial results indicate that quinoa could be an excellent crop for CELSS because of the high concentration of protein, ease of use, versatility in preparation, and potential for greatly increased yields in controlled environments.

Greg Schlick
David L. Bubenheim