While garden work may be slow right now, the next significant task is just around the corner: planting spring grains. The end of January will find us busy flatting spring grains (and spacing the flatting days apart so we won’t find ourselves with too many ready-to-transplant grains at one time).
This year we have some exciting varieties of spring wheat that we are growing for the first time at Golden Rule. After perusing the Kusa Seeds catalogue, we settled on the “Embassy Wheat Suite” collection of seven different spring wheats. Taken directly from the Kusa Seed catalogue, here are the names and descriptions of the seven we are going to grow this year:
Baart Early is a spring growth-habit wheat (Triticum vulgare) with large, semi-hard, white-color kernels and white glumes. It reached heights of up to 48” in the Kusa Seed organization grow-outs. Baart Early was imported into Australia from South Africa in 1880 and came to the United States in 1900. It became well established in Arizona, then spread to the Pacific Coast states. About 500,000 acres were grown in 1919, while the 1939 records show 890,000 acres grown on the dry and irrigated lands of the West. A widely-grown, pre-modern bread wheat.
GLOBE WHEAT STRAIN 1506
Globe Wheat (Triticum sphaerococcum) is a spring growth-habit wheat with small, spherical (round) kernels. The shape of the kernels is quite distinctive and memorable. The stems are very stiff on 24-inch plants whose leaves are all stiffly erect. The seeds have fast germination and emergence. Globe wheat filled the bread basket of pre-industrial colonial India where grain from the plants furnished the flour for the delicious native chapatis and countless other wheaten foods, probably for many long centuries. This crop tillers vigorously even when crowded and has an excellent agronomic appearance by “modern” plant-architecture standards. All heads have short awns. Start with a few seeds and get to 80-pounds with the third-generation harvest. The harvest from the 80-pounds will produce enough grain to feed a whole village.
Huron is a spring growth-habit wheat grown commercially as a bread wheat in the United States about 100 years ago. Huron was selected in Canada about 1888. Height ranges from 44-62”. Huron was exposed in the field in Ojai, California to multiple nights of 16° F. temperatures at 50 days of age without harm.
This is a landrace wheat from ancient Afghanistan (Triticum turgidum). This race of wheat acquired the common names “Cone” and “Rivet” wheat in England, when they were “somewhat widely” grown in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. This is a spring growth habit wheat with its own way of going about the business of “growing up” (have you ever had teenagers living at your place?). Cone and Rivet wheats are best if planted in the autumn, in regions with temperate winters. When sown in the spring, they ripen very late and the kernels struggle to properly mature. According to Percival (an authority on ancient wheats), this is the tallest of all the wheats and in the Kusa Seed organization’s grow-outs, Mauri Black-Awned reached heights of seven-feet. The plants have very attractive, erect leaves and the appearance is one of a very successful and productive-looking crop. Stem strength is modest; the grower should support the plot to prevent lodging. This is an ancient wheat of remarkable beauty. “The productive power of most varieties of Triticum turgidum is greater than that of any other race of wheat when the soil is suitable and the climate allows for a long growing period for the crop” wrote Percival in his monograph The Wheat Plant (1920). This wheat has black awns and white glumes and nice hollow stems (drinking straws).
This is a landrace wheat of spring growth-habit (Triticum polonicum) from Portugal. Milagre has very distinctive, long glumes and long, narrow kernels. Milagre belongs to one of the tallest races of wheat. In the Kusa Seed organization grow-outs, Milagre reached heights of 7’ (84”). Milagre has very large grain heads and broad, droopy leaves. This wheat has nice hollow stems, used for drinking straws in the old days. This wheat pre-dates the industrial revolution and is highly scenic. Anticipate possible lodging by furnishing support. A most esteemed faculty member with a historic portfolio.
This is a landrace wheat of spring growth-habit (Triticum polonicum) from ancient Italy. Mirabella has “elephantic” length glumes and tremendous height potential. In Kusa Seed grow-outs, height varied from 30-84” with some stiff stems exhibited at times. The height expression depends on the soil, climate, growing-term, and other factors (how it likes your place; the local hospitality factor). Once you meet Mirabella, you’ll want to squire her, no doubt. A real, honest-to-goodness beauty queen with a clean and decent soul. Be sure and have your camera on hand when you grow Mirabella, and plenty of film or memory. You likely have never seen anything so fetching before. This is real grain. Nice hollow stems.
SIN EL PHEEL
This is a landrace wheat (Triticum polonicum) of spring growth-habit from ancient Iraq. What a faculty member to have on staff! Huge heads of grain; “elephant size.” Moderately stiff stems. A magnificent specimen of ancient wheat. If the neighbors see it, you’ll have to put up a fence with a strong padlock on the gate. Good for pasta, bread, other culinary items and curative for the “wimp factor” that car-driving and web-surfing inescapably thrust upon us. Height in the Kusa Seed organization grow-outs ranged from 30-84”. Imagine a giant towering over you; that’s Sin El Pheel at its best form. Nature has some surprise secrets to share with you and this faculty member comes with a briefcase full of them.
The Kusa Seed Society endeavors to increase public knowledge and understanding of the important relationship between humanity and edible seedcrops. They have a unique selection of not just spring wheats, but also winter wheats and barleys. If you are interested in growing grains at all, then you definitely will enjoy visiting their website.
May 2012 bring you closer to your friends and family, contentment in your work, and a fruitful harvest.
Happy Flatting, Planting, Dreaming...Happy New Year!