Improvement status: Landrace
Seeds per packet: ~30
Germination tested 12/2020: 51%
Life cycle: Annual or tender perennial
Job's Tears is one of our favorite of the uncommon grains, however this variety has a very hard shell making it quite difficult to get at the grain inside (unlike the varieties known as ma-yuen). This type is mostly used for making jewelry, as the hard shells make ideal beads. It's believed the original rosary beads were actually Job's Tears seeds. The plant resembles corn, but is smaller, often branched, and perennial in mild climates. Believed to originate in India, it is most popular these days in China and Japan (where it is known as hato mugi). The grain is also known as adlay, adlay millet, and coix. The flavor of the grain is sweet and earthy, with a chewy texture similar to pearl barley, which it also physically resembles, though barley and Job's Tears are very different grasses — however you may find bags of grain labeled "pearl barley" in Asian grocery stores but the grain inside is actually dehulled Job's Tears. It's considered a powerful medicinal plant as well. Perennial in the tropics, it is most often grown as an annual in North America.
Our seed was grown and donated to us by our friend Barbara Thomas in Collingswood, New Jersey, a founding member of EFN's board of directors. Thanks Barbara!
GROWING TIPS: Grow as you would sweet corn. Start in flats or direct seed after danger of frost has passed. Space at least 6 inches apart. Plant seeds one inch deep. Grow in blocks (rather than a single row) to improve pollination.