Ancient Grains: Einkorn

Einkorn is one of the oldest ancestors of wheat. Cultivation dates back to 8000BC. It is a diploid, with 14 chromosomes, compared to 42 in modern wheat. The grain has higher protein than modern wheat and is considered more nutritious. There some evidence that einkorn contains a less toxic form of the gliadin protein, which may reduce the toxicity to consumers with gluten sensitivities.


Einkorn Evaluations

This project was designed to evaluate some potential einkorn varieties in an organic system.  Einkorn is an ancient grain and like emmer is a hulled grain, which needs to be dehulled before milling. Einkorn actually is a predecessor of emmer.  It is relatively low yielding but markets for einkorn flour have been developing and some production is occurring in Pennsylvania. It is used in bread, crackers and other products.

Studies were conducted for three years at in New York and Pennsylvania and North Dakota in collaboration with colleagues from Cornell University, North Dakota State University  and the Organic Research and Information Network. 

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.

Spring einkorn lines were evaluated collaboration with colleagues at both Cornell Freeville, NY, and Wilsboro, NY and three locations in North Dakota, North Dakota State University, Cathay, ND and Robinson, ND (Table 1).

At the PA location, spring einkorn lines were planted in early April, and topdressed with pelletized poultry manure at 70 lb N/acre.  Yields averaged 1600 lb/a across all locations and 668 lb/a at the Penn State location. Two of the top yielding lines across all locations were TM23 and WB Alpine. 

Yields were generally down in the eastern environments outside of North Dakota.  Yields in the PA tests (Table 2) were impacted some by weed issues which caused some of the reduced yields.  To avoid weed competition, it would be best to grow this crop in a situation where the weed pressure is due to a well managed previous crop. Also, the Rock Springs location was the most southern of all the locations.  At the PA location, the crop headed in late June and was ready for harvest in early August. These results suggest that einkorn in a relatively low yielding crop in our region but limited grain production of it is possible. 

Table 1.  Spring einkorn performance during 2012-2015 at Freeville (FV), NY,  North Dakota State University (NDSU), Cathay, ND (NDCath) and Robinson, ND (NDRob) Rock Springs, PA (PA), and Willsboro, NY (WB).

EntryVarietyYield1 FVYield1 NDSUYield1 NDCathYield1 NDRobYield1 PAYield1 WBYield1 MeanYield1 RankBushel weight2 MeanBushel weight2 RankLodging MeanHeight (in) MeanHeading Date
1 PI538722 836 2860 1904 1868 504 1052 1504 3 33.3 2 3.4 40.2 28-Jun
2 TM23 1272 3752 2088 2028 748 680 1760 1 34.0 1 2.7 37.8 27-Jun
3 WB Apline 564 3152 2360 1460 756 892 1532 2 29.9 3 3 41.3 6-Jul
Mean 892 3256 2116 1784 668 876 1600 32.5 3 39.8 30-Jun

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

Table 2.  Spring einkorn performance during 2013-2014 at Rock Springs, PA.

EntryVarietyYield1 2013Yield1 2014Yield1 MeanYield1 RankBushel weight2 2013Bushel weight2 2014Bushel weight2 MeanBushel weight2 Rank

Lodging (0-5scale) Mean

Height (in) MeanHeading Mean
1 PI538722 316 696 504 3 - 32.2 32.2 3 3.1 40.6 27-Jun
2 TM23 284 1208 748 2 - 38.7 38.7 1 2.3 37.8 27-Jun
3 WB Apline 400 1108 756 1 - 36.0 36.0 2 1 39.8 27-Jun
Mean 332 1004 668 - 35.7 35.7 2.1 39.4 27-Jun

1Yield = (lb/ac)
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.