Salvia hispanica L., commonly known as chia, is a plant-based alternative to seafood and is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. In the Northern Hemisphere, chia flowering is triggered by the fall equinox (12-h light and dark, early October) and the seeds mature after approximately three months. Chia is sensitive to frost and end of season moisture which limits its cultivation to small areas in regions with temperate climate. The U.S. chia import has increased considerably over the years; however, chia is not widely cultivated in the United States. This study used the historical U.S. temperature and precipitation data as a first step to explore the potential of widescale chia cultivation. The 10th percentiles of 25 mm precipitation level as well as soft frost (32 °F: 0 °C) and hard frost (28 °F: −2.2 °C) were tabulated for the months of November and December. The results identified temperature as the main limiting factor for chia cultivation in the United States. The commercial chia variety (harvested in December) can be planted on approximately 10,000 km2 cropland (1,000,000 hectare) in the United States. The future development of early flowering variety (harvested in November) was demonstrated to open an additional 44,000 km2 (4,400,000 hectares) for chia cultivation in the United States. In conclusion, chia cultivation could provide economic benefits to U.S. farmers both by enriching the diversity within crop rotations aimed at reducing pest and pathogen populations and by its high economic value as an alternative specialty crop.
Hassani, M.; Piechota, T.; Atamian, H.S. Prediction of Cultivation Areas for the Commercial and an Early Flowering Wild Accession of Salvia hispanica L. in the United States. Agronomy 2022, 12, 1651. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12071651
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