But I will have to say that all calories are not created equal. I would also plant nutrient dense plants because people need vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The dry bean and potatoes would provide fiber so to plant for the vitamins and minerals I would plant: kale, garlic, mustard, turnips, collard greens, swiss chard and spinach. All these are doable for Central Texas but for the Hill Country or South Texas, they would need to be planted as soon as the last frost and while there is a rainy season and harvested before the drought. For the hot dry climate maybe twice the plants are needed. I don't think we have had any rain since May, we have had several 105 degree days, and we still have tomatoes, bell peppers and brussel sprouts. They are not producing much but holding out for cooler weather.
The same with various types of peppers.
Okra is 33 calories per cup
Kale is 33 calories per cup
Prickly pear cactus fruit are 42 calories per fruit
Potatoes are 116 calories per cup
Jerusalem artichokes are 106 calories per cup. (If you're able to eat them)
* Potatoes, as already mentioned. Originally from arid highlands, there should be some varieties that retain those traits.
* Millet was grown extensively in places like prehistoric north China because it could handle heat and harsh conditions, and it still is used for that reason today. Not a common food crop in the US but people still eat it elsewhere.
* Sorghum was and is grown in hot and arid places because it requires less water than maize etc., though more than millet (at least that's how it features in decrue agriculture).
Tree crops such as chestnut are another good thing to consider. And I second prickly pear. If you can get past the mucilaginous pads, they're so easy. I have collected varieties for pads and fruit.
I've never seen Chestnut in a listing of trees for arid lands. Our soil here is probably too alkaline, anyway, as they are mentioned as liking acidic soil.
It's a real challenge to find crops which will grow under hot dry conditions. Some things which are good calorie crops, such as potatoes, don't seem to like it to be too hot and dry. Some potential crops such as Mesquite, are not reliable producers - we have a mesquite tree and I don't know that it has ever made more than one or two pods.
So far everything I've tried needs irrigation except Sotol, which is not a practical crop as it takes a lot of space and requires a few years to reach edible size. Eating it kills the plant. Buffalo gourd might be a possibility but also takes a lot of space to grow enough plants to produce sufficient seeds.
Drought Resistant Vegetables
Mother Eath Newshas a chart:
Heat Tolerant Annual Crop Varieties
"Short-season crops have exceptional value in an era of water shortages and climate uncertainty because, after it’s transplanted in a field, a crop that matures in 60 days rather than 90 may require 20 to 25 percent less irrigation than its late-blooming counterpart, thus conserving water and energy."
Coping with Heat
I know this is not an answer to your question but maybe there is a solution.
I know some varieties are propagated from cuttings (usually low thorn varieties for the landscape) so maybe you can find and propagate your own heavy bearers if you can find a reliable tree in your area. The ideal situation would be to selectively breed heavy bearers over time. Combining the two techniques might be a way to help jump start such a breeding project by moving several heavy bearing individuals into close proximity.
Some general ideas (which may or may not apply to your area, these are just from books I've read and random thoughts I had)
If there is a rainy or a damp season, are their crops that can do most of their growing then? Chickpeas, soup peas, and fava beans are the ones I use here as they like the cool dank winter. There are many grains that overwinter, even in places with real winters.
Are their wild versions of domestic crops in your area? For example, we have amaranth and quinoa wild relatives already growing on our farm. So, I tried planting some of these and they make a lovely staple crop.
How about cowpeas? These are grown in Africa and are said to be extremely drought tolerant. I have a devil of a time with these because we aren't hot enough and our day length is too long for them. But I think if you live south of the 47th, they should grow well.
Sorghum has already been mentioned. This is suppose to grow well in drought, but also likes semi-flooded and possibly saline areas. Again, it's one I haven't managed because of lack of heat and too much day length.
Even if we don't use it, I may just throw it out as a cover crop next year. It looks like it might be an attractive flower and create some good biomass.
Tyler Ludens wrote:I've had good success with cowpeas/black-eyed peas in the past. I haven't grown them in the current vegetable garden because of space constraints. There are a few growing in the food forest and seem to be doing well with irrigation once a week, in part shade.
Black-eyed peas can really take a lot of stress and still bring in a yield.