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Triticum turgidum dicoccum (Gramineae)

Fast Facts:

Acres in Washington: less than 200 Number of Growers: less than 10 Per Acre Value: 30-35 bushels per acre

Description of crop: Emmer, also known as farro in Italy, is one of the earliest known cultivated cereals. It is known to have been the primary wheat grown in Asia, Africa, and Europe through the first 5000 years of recorded agriculture. It was a major cereal until it was gradually abandoned in favor of the hulless varieties of durum wheat. Emmer is a hulled wheat meaning it has strong husks that enclose the grains. The red or white kernel comes away from the stalk covered in this tough hull, which must be removed. This makes preprocessing it more expensive and requires special machinery to de-hull the grain. Emmer can be either spring or winter in habit. It has spiklets that generally contain two flowers and are awned. Emmer's value lies in its ability to give good yields on poor soils and its resistance to fungal diseases such as stem rust that are prevalent in wet areas. Its main use is as human food though it can also be used for animal feed. It has good nutritional value, being high in protein and low in gluten. Emmer has a nutty flavor and can be cracked for cereal or milled for flour. It is also used as a whole grain for use in soups, risottos, stuffing's etc. Bluebird Grain Farms, in Winthrop, Washington is a grower of certified organic emmer which they direct market to local fresh markets and chefs. They plant, harvest, store, clean and mill the grain themselves. They grade the emmer on a gravity belt: Number One grade emmer goes as a whole grain to chefs. Number Two grade gets blended with Number One and is milled for flour and cereal. Left over grain goes for feed. Because of the short shelf life of their milled product they only sell it regionally. Key pests: Most of the emmer in Washington is grown organically and as for insects, weeds or diseases, keeping the soil balanced and as close to 6.4 pH keeps pests from being significant problems

Critical pest control issues: Growers should choose pest resistant varieties when possible. Breeders have introduced plant disease resistance into new strains of emmer.

Expert contacts:

Bluebird Grain Farms P.O Box 1082 Winthrop WA 98862 509 996 3526

Location of production: Grant and Okanogan counties


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