Buckwheat Excluded in Conservation Plantings in or Near Wheat Fields


Buckwheat is a serious allergen in some Asian countries and is a serious health risk to people with allergies to buckwheat, similar to peanut allergies in the United States. Buckwheat has been found in wheat exports to Japan and other Asian countries and could have a serious economic impact on Montana and others states’ wheat growers since Asian countries are large importers of U.S. grain.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recommends buckwheat as a cover crop throughout much of the United States. It is a warm-season annual that can mature in less than 60 days and is useful in rotations with cool-season crops. Buckwheat is highly attractive to a number of pollinator species, including honey bees and native bees.

In response to the buckwheat allergen issue, the NRCS national office provided guidance to states on March 16, 2016, on the exclusion of buckwheat in conservation plantings around wheat crops as follows:

NRCS will not recommend buckwheat in conservation plantings in areas in rotation with or adjacent to commodity wheat production that will be planted to wheat within the next two calendar years after planting buckwheat. “Adjacent” is designated as within 30 feet of a wheat field. Although the general recommendation is to not plant wheat for 1 year after growing buckwheat, NRCS will be more conservative and require 2 calendar years. 

Each state must update its conservation practice specifications (i.e., seeding recommendations and implementation guides) to permanently reflect the exclusion of using buckwheat around commodity wheat fields. This update includes, but is not limited to, the following conservation activities: 

  • Use of buckwheat must be excluded from cover crops plantings in rotation or adjacent to fields with wheat production or abstain from growing wheat as a commodity for 2 calendar years after planting buckwheat. 
  • Use of buckwheat must be excluded from pollinator plantings in rotation with or adjacent to fields currently planted or that will be planted to commodity wheat within the next 2 calendar years. 
  • The use of buckwheat in conservation plantings is still permitted in fields or areas that are not used for commodity wheat production. 

This exclusion applies to the states of Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming.

If producers have concerns about a planting recommendation, they should contact their local NRCS office.



Source:  Montana NRCS



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