Buckwheat is grown in the US primarily as a cover crop, not as a commercial food or industrial crop. Buckwheat will grow almost anywhere. Just broadcast it and harvest when the seeds turn dark brown. Keep the ground moist (by watering daily) until they start to sprout. In thirty days you have a nice 12 to 18 inch tall crop and in another week or two you have an abundance of buckwheat seeds! When the hulls turn from white to dark brown its time to harvest. I harvested at 60 days (when the hulls were black) and let them rest in the sun for a couple of weeks.
I planted about 2 and a half pounds in an 80 square foot bed and harvested more than 10 pounds in less than two months (short growing season means more than one crop in a season - far more efficient than conventional wheat!). They do not stand up to high winds or heavy rains (doesn't harm them, just lays them over and they tend to twist together). Buckwheat grows well in warm weather. I have not tried to grow it in the early Spring. I have tried late fall and it dies quickly with the first light frost. I would suggest you hold off until after the last frost before planting it.
Buckwheat forms blooms along the whole height of the plant at stalk branches. The flowers are small, come in bunches, and are dispersed throughout the entire plant (as low as just above ground level all the way to the tops). The bloom stems start from stem joints and grow upwards. I didn't observe any tendency to self disperse. In fact I had to remove the seeds by hand. My method: pull or cut the plant (at it's base) and turn it upside down, hold it over a bucket and, grasping with both hands, slide a hand downwards (up the plant). If your grip is sufficient, you may be able to do two or three plants at a time. Your bucket will soon become full of leaves, stems, flowers, and of course, seeds!
Next take your bucketsful of seeds, leaves, etc. and dump them into flats or onto plastic or whatever you can use to get the lot spread out as thin as possible and place in the sun. I used flats because I didn't want to leave them out overnight. It took about four days for the leaves and other waste to dry out well enough for me to separate them from the seeds. I did this by grasping a handful and rubbing my hands together - grinding the leaves, etc. into a fine dust while not harming the seeds. You can separate this dust (chaff) by pouring over another bucket in a stiff wind (or use a fan on a still day). I suppose that if you ground the leaves, etc. on a windy day, you might not have much chaf to separate and would not have to do as much pouring. The remaining plant stalks will dry quickly and can either be left on the bed (growing area) and tilled in, composted, or used as a straw type mulch. The dried stalks resembled straw and I suppose that one could use these as food for grazing animals.
I tried leaving some of the plants laid out to dry so I could thresh them in a more traditional way (like regular wheat), but buckwheat is such a lush plant that only the top layer of plants dried out, the rest stayed green and moist and some of the seed at the bottom of the pile sprouted! I just didn't have the space to lay them out one by one without any overlap so my 'piles' were about 6 or 8 plants tall. I didn't want to risk reseeding the bed so I didn't try leaving the plants in the ground long enough to dry out naturally (like wheat). Next time I grow buckwheat, I will leave a few to see if they dry out and can be harvested like conventional wheat.
You can purchase Buckwheat from just about any garden catalog. Look in the cover crops section, you'll find clover, vetch, rape, rye, buckwheat, and sometimes alfalfa and oats. It usually costs in the neighborhood of $7 per 3 lb. The following comes from R.H. Shumway's 1999 seed catalog. Their prices are a bit high at $4.99 per lb. I have found it as low as $5.95 for 5 lb. in other catalogs!
Northern grown high yielding Buckwheat grows well in any soil. Well known summer green manure crop. Also used for poultry feed, wild bird game food, flour and general grain for stock. Sow in May or June for green manure crop and incorporate into the soil after about a month when flowering begins. For grain harvest, sow 3 months before expected fall frost. Sow 2 to 3 lb. per 1,000 ft. (60 lb. per acre) for green manure crops, 15 lb. per acre when planting for grain harvest.
Offered by Roger.