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I have seen on here where buckwheat honey can be a valuable commodity especially since the production of buckwheat has dropped considerably.

My first question is can you grow it in the Panhandle of Florida and at what time of the year.

Second question is how many acres per hive do you need in order for it to be certified as buckwheat honey. I think 10 hives on 5 acres is to much but would like to do 2 hives or say 1 hive per acre.

I Think I can convince some farmers to plant buckwheat as long as I buy the seed and they harvest and sell the crop for extra income as long as it does not interfere with ther main season.

Any thoughts and suggestions are appreciated. As for me I like molasses so a darker stronger tasting honey does not bother me and I know of some folks around my parts who would buy it cause they love it.
 

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Scott, I plant mancan buckwheat here in my garden as sort of a cover crop after the regular season slows down. I use it to fill in the dearth that we experience in August. I like it because it grows fast and blooms fast, especially in warm weather if we get a shower or two. I really wish I could plant about 10 acres or so. If you can get some farmers to plant it, go for it.
 

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I have never supered on buckwheat - but a commercial beek I know has. He told me that it makes the supers STINK something awful.

I have two hives on a buckwheat field now - I decided that I would keep any buckwheat supers separate from my other honey supers.
 

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Buckwheat is fast growing. It will begin flowering 3-4 weeks after planting. It will continue to set flower and set seed until frost kills it, but after maybe 12-14 weeks the number of blossoms are greatly reduced.

You will want to harvest about 10-12 weeks after planting. IIRC, you want to harvest when about 75% of the seeds are mature. You do NOT want to try harvesting the seed past 12 weeks, as you will lose a LOT of seeds due to shatter. The mature seeds simply get knocked off the stem too easily.

If you want to harvest the seed, you can mow the buckwheat down, and allow it to dry like hay for a few days. (Don't tedder it, or you will knock off the seeds.) You will need a combine with a pickup head to combine the mowed down buckwheat. (A pickup head works the same way a baler picks up windrowed hay.) Very few combines have pickup heads. The old Allis Chalmers combines came with pickup heads.

You can also harvest buckwheat with a small grain platform. (aka wheat or soybean combine head) You will need to kill the buckwheat and have it dry on the standing stem. I'd recommend applying a desiccant like Paraquat/Gramoxone to prepare the crop stand. Once the buckwheat plants are dried down, you can combine them.

The market is very limited for the buckwheat seed. Make sure you have a buyer lined up before you plant very much. IIRC, Burkett Mills is one of the bigger buckwheat mills that buys buckwheat. You may also be able to build up your own buckwheat market on eBay or selling harvested seed to other beekeepers.

Most beekeepers who grow buckwheat simply till in the buckwheat after 10-12 weeks, and get multiple bloom periods. They don't try to grow the buckwheat for seed.

Buckwheat is an excellent green manure used to improve the soil. It adds a lot of organic matter to the soil. Buckwheat is also a scavenger, and it can process unusable forms of minerals (like phosphorus) and make those nutrients available for the next crop. These are benefits you will want to mention to farmers. Seed costs are a very small part of growing buckwheat - simply offering to buy the seeds will be unlikely to convince a farmer to grow buckwheat for you. Fuel, labor, and equipment costs can easily exceed the cost of the seed.

Here, after farmers harvest their winter wheat in early July, those fields lay fallow the rest of the summer (unless they intercrop soybeans), and would be ideal for seeding in buckwheat. If you have local farmers who grow crops that involve the fields laying unused for a couple months after harvest, you may want to talk to them.

If the buckwheat is blooming when nothing else is, you will be able to get a crop of buckwheat honey from 5 acres with 10 hives. If other stuff is blooming at the same time, you will have a buckwheat blend honey. Bees often collect 10 pounds of buckwheat honey each day from each acre of buckwheat.
 

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We have a 3/4 acre garden this year here in Northern KY. A neighbor mentioned that planting wheat at the end of garden season would help the soil and slow erosion. Sounds like buckwheat might be a good alternative? No bees yet, but we are planning for 3 hives in the spring.
 

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Countryboyknows a lot more about Buckwheat than I do, but for less than an acre I plant it after a shallow till during the first week of May, let the seed turn brown and then till it again for an August bloom. I'll sometimes harvest enough of the seed after the August bloom to get me going again in the Spring. I harvest by hand - time consuming but easy to do. I don't like the taste of Buckwheat honey, but I like to use it as a supplement with other forage because it is easy, inexpensive, and the bees are all over it in the mornings.
 

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Second question is how many acres per hive do you need in order for it to be certified as buckwheat honey. I think 10 hives on 5 acres is to much but would like to do 2 hives or say 1 hive per acre.

Any thoughts and suggestions are appreciated. As for me I like molasses so a darker stronger tasting honey does not bother me and I know of some folks around my parts who would buy it cause they love it.
I have planted buckwheat in past years and can tell you that ten hives on five acres will yield a great crop of honey. It flowers fast - four weeks from planting, so time it that it hits a dearth period in your area. Around my parts that means have it bloom by mid August when the main flow is winding down, though I always got some goldenrod mixed in; couldn't delay the bloom more because of fall formic treatment. Didn't seem to matter, buckwheat overpowers anything it mixes with! The colour might not be black, but it tastes like it is. The bees will work it between ten and twelve the heaviest, then the blossoms shut down for the day - leaving the bees to work other nectar sources if available. Do not have it bloom during the main flow, I have seen them completely ignore it in favour of other honey plants. Lore also states that the bees get cranky in the afternoon after the buckwheat nectar stops, not sure on that one, don't recall any abnormal behaviour. Good luck!
 

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It will reseed itself . . . but I've lost crops because the seed germinated on the surface and then it got too dry, but we have a lot of clay in our soil. The roots are really shallow. I rake the surface of the soil lightly after planting in the Spring. For the summer planting (late June), after the Buckwheat has gone to seed from the May planting, I just till the surface enough to break-up the stems and the surface of the soil. As long as we get some moisture, the crop is good in August in time for our dearth. If I till in the Fall, I'll get a decent amount of seed to winter over and germinate in the Spring, but I don't depend on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the info from all especially from CB.

Sounds like it might be better suited to plant for a dove field and once it seeds bushhog it down and then after a few weeks lightly till the field so it can re-seed itself, the doves ain't gonna get all of the seeds.

I guess if you start in the spring you might get 2-3 crops out of the first intitial seeding. I guess the next question is that any seed tilled back in during late fall or whenever the first frost hits will it stay dormant till Spring.

In my area farmers are not geared toward grain production except for corn, other than that it is cotton, peanuts, melons, lopes, tomatoes, and occasionally soybeans, peppers and squash.
 

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and once it seeds bushhog it down and then after a few weeks lightly till the field so it can re-seed itself,

Why wait a few weeks and double your time until new bloom? Mow it down and disk it in right then. You will have new blooms in 3-4 weeks. It's not uncommon to get 3 crops of buckwheat blooms in one season.

If you stagger your planting and tilling in a field by a few weeks, the bees always have part of the field to work.

I guess the next question is that any seed tilled back in during late fall or whenever the first frost hits will it stay dormant till Spring.

I haven't tilled it back in in late fall or after the frost. Simply leave the last crop standing, or just mow it down. In my experience, if you mow it down after a killing frost, it will overwinter and you will get a nice stand when you till the next spring.
 

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My last stand of Buckwheat will bloom over the last three-four weeks of September (first week of Oct is our first frost). I'll then wait a week or so for the seeds to brown-up, then sow a Winter Rye cover crop when I till the Buckwheat in October.

In May I plow under the rye, broadcast a little 10-10-10, and I'll sow some new or/and Fall harvested Buckwheat seed at the same time. Plenty of Buckwheat will come up from overwintering (plus the new Spring seed) for four good blooms next year . . . June, July, Aug, Sept. If I time it right, and the weather cooperates (ha!) I cover my dearths with at least something for them to work on.
 

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...then after a few weeks lightly till the field so it can re-seed itself, the doves ain't gonna get all of the seeds.
You don't have to worry about lightly tilling it. I have tilled in buckwheat the first of July that I planted in April at the deepest setting on my troybilt. Tilled it 3-4 times to get it all tilled in. Then without seeding had the best crop of buckwheat during August/September.

The next spring (I was going to plant some of my garden here) I tilled in the young buckwheat that started coming up. I tilled it again in 3 weeks and planted the garden. I still got thousands of buckwheat coming up. When I pulled them, some were 6" long under the ground and pushing through. Very tough plants.
 

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We've used it as a cover crop and soil improver (only 1-2 acres at a time rotated) for several years, even before we had the bees. Only learned later that it can be a nice source for them as well. One thing I will add, you might want to check local feed stores for seed, as with a lot of things shipping can get pricey if you order it. Around here (Ohio) about half of the little local places stock it.
 

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Scott,

You could get much more than 3 crops where you are. Time it for local dearths. It shouldn't hurt the dove hunting any. With sequential plantings you could keep your dove field fresh and get some honey!

Tom
 

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Does it reseed itself?
Like crazy! I use it quite a bit as a cover crop as a in between cash crops in my vegetable operation...I love using it for many of the reasons others have mentioned (grows quickly, bees love it, improves the soil, etc.), but it can become a nuisance to get rid of unless you mow it down before the seed heads start browing up. Buckwheat is unusual in that all of the seed on one plant does not mature at the same time, so as soon as it flowers, check back every day and look carefully if you don't want it to reseed itself. I generally let it flower for 4 or 5 days (enough time for the bees to work it a bit), and then mow it down before the seed starts setting. Even then, I'll still get some reseeded buckwheat come up again, but it's worth it to see the bees working it in the mornings! I've spent many a hour handpicking reseeded buckwheat out of closely space vegetable crops like spinach and carrots!

We have a 3/4 acre garden this year here in Northern KY. A neighbor mentioned that planting wheat at the end of garden season would help the soil and slow erosion. Sounds like buckwheat might be a good alternative? No bees yet, but we are planning for 3 hives in the spring.
Planting buckwheat at the end of the season won't get you a huge amount of growth (depending on where you are in Kentucky), which is the point of a covercrop. It is quite frost sensitive, and will quickly disolve into nothing once cold weather arrives. Depending on whether you want a covercrop to overwinter or not, you are much better off with either wheat/rye (these will overwinter and continue growing in the spring), or oats (this will winterkill, but puts on a lot of growth before it does). I use buckwheat as a warm weather covercrop, say in between early spring crops and a later summer planting of something.
 

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A comment was made about making a hive stink. What kind of quality is the honey? Does it really smell? Is this a good honey for the public or one to leave for the colony to winter on? I'm thinking of planting some next year for dearth, but if the honey stinks I am not interested. Thanks for any input.
 

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There is an unpleasant odor in the beeyard when the bees are curing buckwheat nectar into honey. After the honey is ripe the odor is much less pronounced. I do not care for the taste of Buckwheat honey, but the demand for it is greater than the supply. Buckwheat is a better bee plant in the north than it is in the deep south. It does best when planting is timed so that bloom occurs when the nights are cooling down.
 

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I put 130 colonies ( I had no where else to put them ) on a 80 acre buckwheat field as it started to bloom. The field only had one bloom. Most drew out and filled two supers of plastic. It was amazing in the mornings; from a distance it looked like a large dark cloud of bees from the hives to the field.
 
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