According to a new study at Washington University in St. Louis, ancient “lost crops” were found to have surprisingly high yields. It is not clear why these crops have disappeared in the long history, after scientists speculated that yields were low, but new research suggests this hypothesis may be incorrect.
Many modern crops, such as pumpkins and beans, are domesticated and the main crops grown in any given region are tailored to the local environment and climate, and their influence includes the full spectrum of plants grown and the local pollinators. Some crops, such as wheat, corn and rice, are produced in large quantities because of their high yields and their ability to feed large numbers of people.
Many crops have been in the long history, and they have faded as people tend to be more inclined to other crops. These changes have been happening very slowly, and the causes of extinction have been largely forgotten. And a team of researchers at the University of Washington tried to solve the mystery by discovering seed samples from extinct crops in a cave in the eastern United States and successfully growing them.
The team looked at crops that had been extinct in this part of the United States, and that they had fed large swathes of communities before corn became the main crop. The latest news on the subject comes from Natalie Mueller, an assistant professor of archaeology at the university, who has personally experimented with the cultivation of some of the crops that have lost their harvest.
With the tireless efforts of her and her team, Muller discovered two extinct crops, the erect knotweed and the goosefoot. Higher yields can be produced when grown as a mixture rather than separately. Through this type of cultivation, the yield of crops has exceeded that of modern domesticated crops.
Mueller has also tried to grow other extinct crops, such as Sumpweed, Maygrass and barleylittle, but it is not possible to estimate the yield of these plants. The experiment revealed the way Amerindian communities might have been used to feed their populations before more modern crop production began.