Field and Pastures: Creating a Balance

Two tips for those who want to grow gluten-free crops

If you would like to grow a gluten-free crop on your farmland, you should read the advice here very carefully.

Don't wait until it's time to harvest the crop to test it for this allergen

The only sure-fire way to check if a crop you are growing does or does not contain any gluten is to have a business that does allergen testing perform some tests on it. You must pay a fee for using this type of testing service. If you a budget-conscious farmer, then you might initially decide to just be extremely careful in regards to preventing crop contamination and to then only have pay for one allergen test to be done, right before you harvest, to confirm that the crop is free from gluten.

However, it would be much wiser to test for this allergen at regular intervals during the crop-growing process. This will ensure that, should some gluten find its way into your field whilst the crop is still growing, you will have time to fix the issue (by, for example, removing the contaminated section of the crops or starting from scratch in a different, uncontaminated field).  Conversely, if you wait until it's time to harvest the crop and then pay for one test, which shows that there are gluten particles all over the field, you may have to let down the supermarket chain or food manufacturer to whom you intended to sell this crop, as you won't be able to produce a new, uncontaminated version of it until the next growing season rolls around. In short, it would almost certainly be a false economy to only test the crop at harvesting time.

Be careful when travelling between crop fields by foot or in your farm equipment

If you regularly visit neighbouring farms which grow wheat or other grains that have gluten in them, or if you often share your tractor and its attachments with the owners of these farms, then you must ensure that, whenever you visit them or whenever your equipment is returned to you, you do not walk through your gluten-free crop field while wearing the clothes you wore during that visit or operating the tractor that was used on that other farm.

The reason for this is that your clothing and your equipment could have gluten particles on them, which you might transfer to your crop field by accident if you wear or use them in this area, respectively. By changing your clothing and thoroughly hosing down your tractor before you approach your field, you should be able to avoid spoiling your crop.

To learn more, contact a resource that offers allergen testing.