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Ancient Grains: Spelt

Spelt is a hulled wheat that is a hexaploid, just like modern wheat. It is grown for animal feed in our region but can be dehulled and ground into white and whole wheat flour for baking.
Maverick Spelt

Maverick Spelt

This project was designed to evaluate some potential winter and spring varieties of spelt in an organic system.  Studies were conducted for three years at  locations in New York and Pennsylvania and North Dakota. 

These data are summarized from the original organic variety reports at Cornell University Small Grains Cultivar Testing website.  This work was supported by National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA award #2011-51300-30697.

Our winter combined initial trials consisted of four winter spelt varieties (Table 1) and were later expanded to include six varieties.   In these trials, Maverick ranked the highest for yield and was also the shortest and earliest. Maverick is widely used for flour in our region as well.  It also has a unique characteristic of producing a crop with some of the seeds already dehulled.

Table 1.  2012-2015 winter spelt performance at Freeville (FV), NY, Rock Springs (PA), PA and Willsboro (WB), NY.

EntryVarietyYield1 FVYield1 PAYield1 WBYield1 MeanYield1 RankBushel Weight (lb/bu)Bushel Weight RankLodging MeanHeight MeanHeading DateWinter % Survival
1 Frank 89.0 66.6 114.1 89.9 3 28.7 1 4 44.5 12-Jun 84
2 Maverick 92.4 89.1 147.0 109.6 1 28.2 2 2.3 41.7 2-Jun 50
3 Oberkulmer 89.6 79.0 116.6 95.0 2 27.0 4 2.5 45.7 6-Jun 60
4 PI348159 81.7 72.7 114.0 89.6 4 27.4 3 3.5 46.1 12-Jun 67
Mean 88.1 76.9 123.0 96.0 27.8 3.1 44.5 8-Jun 65

1Yield = (bu/ac @28lbs/bu)
2Bushel weight = (lbs/bu)

The results of our trials at Penn State over the project are shown in Table 2. In most years yields averaged 90 to 100 bu/acre for the top lines. These tests included two additional varieties, Comet and Sungold. Maverick, Comet and Sungold were high yielding in these trials.  Sungold often yielded slightly more that Maverick and Maverick and Comet were similiar in 2 of the 3 years.  Sungold was a bit later in maturity and similar in height to Maverick.  Comet was similar in maturity but shorter than Maverick. All three of these lines are available from French's Hybrids.  More details on their characteristics can be found on the French's Hybrids website.

Table 2. Winter spelt performance during 2013 to 2015 at Rock Springs, Pennsylvania.

EntryVarietyYield1 2013Yield1 2014Yield1 2015Yield1 MeanYield1 RankTest2 2013Test2 2014Test2 2015Test2 MeanTest2 RankLodging
0-9 
Height mean Heading Date 
1 Comet 93.6 105.1 73.9 90.9 30.8 29.1 21.3 27.1 0 28.3 30-May
2 Frank 81 84.7 73.3 79.7 4 32.6 29.7 22.1 28.1 1 6.7 41.3 8-Jun
3 Maverick 92.4 105.7 105 101.0 1 31.9 30.8 24.5 29.1 3 2.7 39.4 30-May
4 Oberkulmer 84.4 101 80.6 88.7 2 29.7 26.8 19.2 25.2 4 5.3 42.9 1-Jun
5 PI348159 83.4 95.4 89.4 89.4 3 32.7 27.6 22.5 27.6 2 6.7 42.5 9-Jun
6 Sungold 87.7 131.6 139.3 119.5 30.5 27.5 22.6 26.9 1.3 40.6 6-Jun
Mean 87.1 103.9 93.6 94.9 31.4 28.6 22.0 27.3 3.8 39 4-Jun

1Yield = (bu/ac @28lbs/bu)
2Test = (Bu/ac)

We also tested some spring spelt lines, in collaboration with colleagues at both Cornell (Freeville, NY) and three locations in North Dakota, North Dakota State University, Cathay, ND and Robinson, ND (Table 3). Spring spelt lines were planted in early April, and topdressed with pelletized poultry manure at 70 lb N/acre. Spring spelts performed much better in North Dakota than in New York and Pennsylvania. As with wheat, spring spelt crops are often less well adapted than winter spelts and often will yield much less.  At the Penn State location (Table 4), the Forage Spelt variety tended to be the one of the tallest and also had the highest yields.  Over all locations, however, the CDC Zorba variety tended to have the highest yields, however.  Tall and early would likely be good characteristics in this environment where heat stress and weeds in spring grains can be a problem.

Table 3.  Spring spelt performance during 2012-2015 at Freeville (FV), NY, Rock Springs (PA), PA North Dakota State University (NDSU), Cathay(ND Cath), ND and Robinson(NDRob), ND.

EntryVarietyYield1  FVYield1 NDSUYield1 NDCathYield1 NDRobYield1  PAYield1  MeanYield1  RankBushel weight2
Mean
Bushel weight2
 Rank
Lodging MeanHeight MeanHeading Date
1 CDC Zorba 75.4 133.0

97.0

57.1 45.7 81.7 1 30.4 4 1.4 44.5 12-Jun
2 AC Boveria 55.0 89.7 83.6 46.7 29.4 60.9 5 32.7 3 4.2 44.5 15-Jun
3 94-288 58.3 91.1 84.3 46.4 46.4 65.3 4 29.7 5 3.2 36.6 26-Jun
4 Forage Spelt 52.4 110.3 84.1 51.9 49.0 69.6 2 33.8 2 2.8 44.9 9-Jun
5 SK3P 53.3 101.6 86.0 52.4 46.1 67.9 3 34.8 1 2.8 46.1 9-Jun
Mean 58.9 105.1 87.0 51.0 43.3 69.0 32.2 2.9 43.3 14-Jun

1Yield = (bu/ac @28lbs/bu)
2Bushel weight = (lbs/bu)

Table 4.  Spring spelt performance during 2013 -2014  in the Penn State trials located at Rock Springs, PA.

EntryVarietyYield1 2013 Yield1 2014Yield1 MeanYield1 RankBushel weight2 2013 Bushel weight2 2014Bushel weight2 MeanBushel weight2 RankLodging Mean Height MeanHeading Date 
1 CDC Zorba 35.9 55.6 45.8 4 - 30.5 30.5 5 4.5 42.1 4-May
2 AC Boveria 23.7 35.1 29.4 6 - 36.2 36.2 2 7.3 48 12-May
3 94-288 41.4 51.4 46.4 2 - 29.1 29.1 6 5.3 37 21-Jun
4 Forage Spelt 40.0 58.0 49.0 1 - 35.5 35.5 3 4.7 50 6-May
5 SK3P 36.7 55.6 46.2 3 - 37.3 37.3 1 3.8 52.4 3-May
6 Red Chaff 33.7 49.9 41.8 5 - 32.9 32.9 4 3.2 40.9 29-Apr
Mean 35.2 50.9 43.1 33.6 33.6 4.8 45.3 13-May

1Yield = (bu/ac @28lbs/bu)
2Bushel weight = (lbs/bu)

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This is a downloadable summary of the grain yield and quality results for spelt, emmer, and einkorn.