einkorn seeds for trade / a question on grain ploidy
I've just harvested a small crop of einkorn wheat, one of the earliest
domesticated grains, a diploid wheat species. I have seeds to share for
interested people, and a question about grain ploidy.
* information on einkorn
Traces of einkorn were found in "Ötzi", the prehistoric mummy that was
discovered in a glacier between Austria and Italy. It can grow on poor
soils, and that may be a reason why it's cultivation survives in some
remote mountaineous regions. The yield is substantially lower than
modern wheat varieties, but there's potential for improvement. Like
spelt, it is not free-threshing. It is suggested that the gliadin
protein in einkorn may be better tolerated by people with celiac
disease. More information can be found on the web.
I've been looking for it, and two years ago finally got hold of a bag of
einkorn grains on a market in Alpes de Haute Provence in France, where a
group of organic farmers are reviving the ancient tradition. I don't
know if it is a local land race that somehow survived, but the website
of this group (http://www.petitepeautre.com/) tells it is usually sown
and harvested in September, thus being nearly one year on the field.
* my cultivation experiences
On the first sowing, this grain gave a very bad germination rate,
probably due to change of climatic and soil conditions, and damage to
the germ caused by removing the chaff. I harvested a lot less than i had
Next sowing was in sandy soil a few kilometres further. The small plot i
prepared (about 4 by 4 metres) was still too big for the amount of seed,
leaving much space for weeds. The grain grew three to five feet tall,
which is very much compared to the wheats usually grown here. (Lower
stems lead to more seed production, and shortage of straw for animal
bedding. You'll see there will be fields of grain grown only for animal
bedding material soon... LOL) This variety of einkorn has long hairs on
the grains. Hand harvesting yielded a bucket full of ears and two
bundles of good long weaving straw.
There were a few different looking grain plants between them, which i've
sown in a plot next to it. At first it looked like having four rows of
seeds in the ear, but i think i've found both four and six rows on the
same plant. (Difficult to say because they can intergrow.) I suppose two
rows of flowers may be left unfertilised or undeveloped from time to
time. This grain is as tall, and looks like a warrior plant next to the
rustic einkorn, having much bigger ears and thicker straws. Unlike the
einkorn, it is free-threshing. The yield shows why our ancestors chose
to move to other species of wheat: with about half the number of ears,
it produced as much as the einkorn.
* grain ploidy
My guess is that the ploidy of the grain (number of chromosomes) is
shown by the number of flower rows in the ear. If this is so then the
diploid species, like einkorn, have two rows (2x1) of seeds, the
tetraploid species, like emmer and durum, have four rows (2x2) and the
hexaploid species, our modern bread wheat, have six rows (3x2). Could
this be right?
* seeds available
If someone is interested, i would be glad to exchange a few ears for
anything on my wish list
(http://home.scarlet.be/~p1925850/maarten/dezirlisto.html), or for
postage cost otherwise.