Generally it takes 7 to 8 weeks to mature.
Maturity occurs in 45 – 60 days for early maturing (short) varieties while late maturing (tall) varieties take 70- 120 days.
- The crop turns brown or pale green or even yellowish.
- The yellow flowers disappear and the seeds appear eligible in the chambers i.e. seeds are visible to the eye.
- Squeeze seeds between thumb and palm, If the seeds are hard and do not produce milk at all, then they are ready for harvesting (even if the plant has some green leaves at this stage).
- If the seeds produce some fluid give it at least one week to dry.
Deheading (actual harvesting)
- Cut the head slightly below the inflorescence or the end of the stem at a slanting angle using a knife or sharp panga.
- Bunch the heads together and carry them to a spread canvass or polythene paper or bags sewn like canvass.
- A delay in harvesting leads to sprouting especially if there are high temperatures and moisture. Dew should be avoided during harvesting as it leads to sprouting.
Beat the bunch heads hard using a stick. Since the seeds hang very loosely on husks when ready for harvesting they come off easily.
Winnowing & drying
Winnow the seeds to clean them and spread them out under the sun to dry. Two or three days of good sunshine will completely reduce moisture levels to required standards (13% moisture content).
The yield is 50g/plant giving approx. 1900 kg/acre.
The average is 800 – 1200 kg / acre.
The seeds can be stored in clean plastic paper bags in a cool room where rodents are completely avoided. Stored grains are usually infested by rats and cockroaches; however they are not infested by weevils due to their small size.
Several companies are involved in grain amaranth promotion and marketing. The key ones include:-
- Amaranth International Ltd offers both local and export market.
- Incas Health International Ltd
- African Amarantha ltd
- Amaranth Grain ltd
- All Grain Company Kenya Ltd in Nairobi
- MAP international
Local market range between 40 – 80/= per kg depending on the buyer for the grain (for consumption) and 200/= per Kg of seed (for planting)
Most of these companies process and sell grain amaranth products