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– Most of my wheat collection is older varieties plus a couple of more recent ones that are recommended for wheat weaving. They generally grow 3’ — 5' tall and mature easily. They range from the Triticum monococcum varieties, which date back to the beginning of civilization, to the products of Canada's wheat breeding program this past century (with date of introduction in brackets following the name). Wheats are all very decorative but Utrecht Blue, the three Triticum monococcums, Polish, Vavilovii and Emmer would be especially attractive in dried arrangements. If you are thinking of growing your own wheat for eating, Spelt, Emmer, Utrecht Blue, and Triticum monococcum are very difficult to thresh by hand.

Each year I grow a part of my wheat collection at St. Peter’s Abbey. To view photo-graphs, visit the Abbey website, and go to the section called “Organics” and then to “Ancient Wheats:”


(Triticum aestivum) has always been the main wheat grown on the prairies. Here is a selection of Canadian bred cultivars and ones used in early Canadian wheat breeding programs:
RED FIFE — First grown in Canada in 1843. Yield and quality are very good but this is a late variety and so risks frost damage. Originated in Ukraine.
EARLY RED FIFE — Selected from Red Fife in 1903, it is three days earlier than its parent.
MARQUIS (1910) — A selection from Hard Red Calcutta x Red Fife which has the quality of Red Fife and the earliness of Hard Red Calcutta. It was the main wheat grown in Western Canada in the 1920's and 1930's.
THATCHER (1935) — The main wheat grown on the prairies when I was growing up in the 1950's. It was selected from a cross with Marquis.
PEMBINA is a selection from a Thatcher cross and is fairly rust-resistant. Licensed in 1959, it is still grown on a small scale because of its excellent baking quality.
SAUNDERS (1947) — Comes from a Thatcher cross and is two days earlier than Thatcher. It is famous as a show wheat.
PRELUDE (1913) — The earliest maturing wheat bred in Canada. It is a high protein variety. The heads have short beards.
HURON (1925) — A bearded wheat from a cross made in 1888 in Ottawa. Hardy and good yielding mid season variety that is still grown in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. In our wetter than average growing year, Huron seemed to have better yield and quality than more dry-land cultivars.
LADOGA – The bearded heads, which bend over when mature, are very easy to thresh. Came to Canada from northern Russia in 1887.
HARD RED CALCUTTA — Was imported from India in the late 1800’s. It was not widely grown in Canada as it was quite variable and its milling quality is poor, but it is very early and passed this quality on to Marquis.

I also have small quantities of the following hard red spring wheats which were bred or grown in Canada. They were all the work of Agriculture Canada except Ceres, Red Bobs and Kitchener. Wheat breeding is a long process so the dates are somewhat uncertain,
sometimes the year of the initial cross and sometimes when they were first grown in farmers’ fields.
BISHOP -- Ladoga x Gehun, Ottawa, 1891. My only hard white spring wheat.
STANLEY -- Ladoga x Red Fife, Ottawa, 1903.
PRESTON -- Ladoga x Red Fife, Ottawa, 1903.
GARNET -- Preston x Riga, Ottawa, 1905. For more information about Garnet, see
KITCHENER -- Selection from Marquis, Seager Wheeler, Rosthern, SK, 1911.
RED BOBS -- Probably Bobs x Early Red Fife, Seager Wheeler, Rosthern, SK, 1911.
CERES -- Marquis x Kota, North Dakota Exp. Stn., 1918.
CANTHATCH -- Thatcher x Kenya Farmer, 1959. Better rust-resistance than Thatcher.
SELKIRK -- (McMurachy x Exchange) x Redman, Winnipeg, 1939.
CHINOOK -- Thatcher x S 615-11. Lethbridge, 1952. Sawfly resistant.
RESCUE -- Apex x S 615. Swift Current, 1946. Stem rust and sawfly resistant.
CANUS -- Marquis x Kanred - U. of Minn, 1918. Selected at U. of Alta. 1929.
REWARD -- Marquis x Prelude. Ottawa 1912. Licensed in 1928.
RELIANCE -- Kanred xMarquis. Cross made by USDA, 1917. Registered in Canada in 1932.
RUBY -- Downy Gehun x Onega -->Downy Riga WT Macoun 1891.
Downy Riga x Red Fife --> Ruby CE Saunders 1905.
PARK -- Early maturing cultivar from a Thatcher cross, 1963.


(T. sphaerococcum) – Short and very upright. The heads are rather short and look like bottle brushes. The kernels are plump and almost round.


(T. compactum) – Widely grown for food before common bread wheat dominated wheat growing. CLUB WHEAT has short heads and beards, a good yield, threshes easily and produces plump blond kernels. Breeding work was done on club wheat in the northwestern US a hundred years or so ago and it became a minor crop there. A retired farmer from Humboldt gave me a sample that he called BARREL WHEAT or RED CLUB WHEAT. It has short plump beardless heads producing red kernels, a bit smaller than modern wheats, which are semi-hard and low protein. According to the literature it comes from a cross between a club wheat and a bread wheat in 1899 at Washington AES, was distributed to farmers in 1907 and has been grown almost exclusively in eastern Washington State.


(T. polonicum) – Has large bearded seed heads. The seeds are long and about twice the size of ordinary wheat.


(T. durum) – Has seeds a bit larger than bread wheat. It is used in the production of pasta and is also the preferred wheat for wheat weaving.
PELISSIER came to the USA from Algeria in 1900. In 1921 a selection was made at U. of SK which was registered in 1936. A drought resistant cultivar with black beards.
Known in the USA as Peliss.
WAKOOMA -- Lakota x Pelissier, 1973.
MEDORA -- Ward x Macoun, 1982. Blond beards.
MAROCCAN FROST — Is very uniform in height and the shortest of the durums. It has shorter, plumper heads and longer beards than Medora.


– Probably named varieties but I do not know their names.
BLACK has long (4"-5") black heads and beards.
TAN/BLUE has short plump heads, tan with metallic blue highlights and beards.
EGYPTIAN is a sample I received of a short (just over 3’) upright common bread wheat. The blond heads are plump and medium-long and the beards spread outward as well as upward.


(T. vavilovii) – Named after the great Russian plant scientist and collector. This old wheat has a very irregular seed head and is somewhat difficult to thresh.


(T. turgidum) – An old wheat species with large blond grains that are used in the production of pasta.
RIVET (T. turgidum) has branched heads like Vavilovii and is also bearded.
POULARD (T. turgidum ssp. turgidum) has plump blond heads with black beards, somewhat like durum wheat.


(T. timopheevi) – An ancient grain cultivated in the Republic of Georgia. With its slender stems and flat heads, it looks like a larger, more robust T. monococcum. Also difficult to thresh.



- Has dark green plants with fairly short plump heads with long beards. Large blond seeds.


- Has tall blue-grey plants that are a bit late maturing. The heads are large and slightly branched with medium beards.


- Has grey-green plants with weak stems that lodge easily. The heads are slender with medium beards and the seeds are long and slender, looking more like a wheat grass than a wheat. Named after a city in Iran.


(T. monococcum) – Is most likely the earliest domesticated wheat.
BLACK EINKORN has flat black heads that are not very long and resemble the heads of crested wheat grass.
Despite its name ALASKA SPELT is a T. monococcum, and as such resembles the 2 preceding varieties. It is the tallest of the three and has rich yellow brown seed heads.
BLEU DUR ARCOUR has small flat blond heads with short beards (like Blond) but, unusual for an einkorn, most of the hulls are removed during threshing.


– My most decorative wheat. The blue heads with black beards bend over when mature. This variety was still grown around Utrecht (Netherlands) in the early 1900’s.


(T. dicoccum) – Along with einkorn and spelt are the oldest cultivated wheats.
EMMER is tall, with long bearded light brown heads that bend over when mature.
ABYSSINIAN is an emmer with a bit shorter heads and a bit earlier maturing than the above cultivar.


(T. spelta) – Has long (up to 6") slim heads which break easily. Plants and heads bend over when ripe. Until now I have only been growing SPRING SPELT but late in the fall of 2010 I seeded a FALL SPELT. It came up perfectly the following spring and produced a good crop.


(Triticum X. Secale) – A cross between wheat and rye. The kernels are rather wrinkled and not as plump as those of wheat. WELSH (1978) was named in memory of the late Dr. John Welsh, who in 1955 performed the first wheat-rye crosses at the University of Manitoba. It has long bearded heads and is used for wheat weaving. BRAVEHEART has bearded heads not quite as long as Welsh and somewhat more plump seeds.


– was bred by crossing wheat with Haynaldia (a grass) to try to confer more fungus resistance to wheat. The plants have long, plump heads with medium beards. The seeds are a lot longer than red spring wheat.


– was created in Spain in the 1970’s by crossing a wheat with Hordeum chilense. The cross was done to add fungus disease resistance to wheat, but this crop is now grown on a limited scale in Spain. It is a fall seeded crop whose bearded heads look like those of 6-row barley and whose seeds are hulled like common barley.


– (Secale cereale) WHITE RYE has tall (over 6’) gray-green plants that are not very stooled out. The long slim heads with medium beards produce light coloured grains and are quite subject to ergot.


(Avena sativa nuda) –TERRA has large naked kernels and is (or was) grown on a field scale on the prairies. BATON is a newer cultivar, bred by Dr. Vern Burrows, Canada’s foremost oat breeder. It is a few days later than Terra, with a bit plumper seeds. It seems to thresh out more completely than Terra. VICAR was developed in Winnipeg in the 1940's and was the first licensed hulless oat variety in Canada. A mid season to late variety. Named after George MacVicar of Portage la Prairie. We cook the oats whole and use them as a substitute for rice. YUNG 492 is a Chinese cultivar with plump kernels and a good yield.


(Hordeum vulgare) – BERE has 6-row blond bearded heads. It is apparently the oldest barley cultivated in Europe. WARRIOR has fat 6-row heads with unusual beards which are folded like a grasshopper’s leg.
I have two barleys which are short and early and have black heads. BLACK ALBERTA is a 6-row barley and BLACKHEART a 2-row barley; Blackheart has the darker beards.
HORDEUM ZEOCRITHON is apparently a different species than common barley. It is upright and very tall for a barley, 2-rowed with long bearded heads.


(Hordeum vulgare) – ETHIOPIAN has large dark brown pointed seeds. EXCELSIOR has attractive purplish bearded seed heads and purple seeds.
SPECIAL MIX contains purple, grey, and blond seeded varieties.
I have two black-seeded 2-row barleys. BLACK HULLESS is very short, only about 2’ tall. The heads are dark but not black with lighter beards. HORDEUM NIGRINUDUM (black, naked) is of normal height with black heads and beards.

Wheat, triticale, oats, barley 10g @ $3.00


PROSO MILLET (Panicum miliaceum) has heads of loose panicles of blond seeds. The seeds are dehulled for human consumption or with the hulls on for bird-seed. The hulls are shiny and range from blond to a rich red-brown. The heads also look good in dried arrangements. I have four samples that might or might not be distinct from each other.
BLOND -- blond heads and seeds
BRONZE -- dark heads and red-brown seeds
RED -- blond heads and red seeds
VIOLET -- purple shaded heads and red seeds
FOXTAIL MILLET (Setaria italica) has heavy compact dark brown heads. Plants are tall and erect, bending over when the heads are mature, and very little stooled out.

5g @ $3.00


(Phalaris canariensis) – Grown on a field scale in Saskatchewan for birdseed. The compact heads on tall stems are used in dried arrangements.

Packet @ $3.00


(Amaranthus sp.) – A traditional food, ornamental and dye plant. It is a domesticated variety of pigweed and a native American crop. The plants are sturdy, generally growing from 4'-8' tall. The large leaves are green or red and the seed heads are red, yellow, brown or multicoloured. The grain varieties are grown for their heavy yield of small blond seeds which are rich in protein (16-18%). They also complement corn and wheat to make a complete protein. Sow them after danger of frost is past. When the plants have dried after a heavy frost in the fall, cut the seed heads, thresh and winnow. The seeds can be popped, sprouted, milled into flour or cooked whole. The young and tender leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach.
R158 was developed by Johnny's Selected Seeds and Rodale Research Centre. The leaves and seed heads are mostly red. It is early and heavy yielding. POPPING AMARANTH has a large multicoloured seed head. GOLDEN AMARANTH has large golden brown seed heads on sturdy plants. HOPI RED DYE is a deep burgundy red plant which can get 6 feet tall. The young leaves are used in salads. The Hopi people used the flower bracts as a ceremonial food dye. The edible seed is black. ORANGE GIANT has orange-ribbed green leaves and huge burnt-orange seed heads on 7 feet plants. The seeds are light beige.


(Chenopodium quinoa) – The staple food of the Incas, quinoa is grown for its seeds but can also be harvested young for its greens. It is a domesticated variety of lamb's quarters, growing 4'-8' tall. The seeds and seed heads vary greatly in colour. The seeds are higher in protein than cereal grains and somewhat resemble millet and sesame seeds. The seeds are covered with a bitter tasting saponin which is removed by rinsing in cold water. Cook the seeds whole (cooking time about 20 minutes) or grind into flour. Quinoa produces a heavy yield of seeds, resists frost and drought well, and tolerates poor soil. Perhaps this plant has a future as a field crop in Saskatchewan.
TEMUCO gives a good yield of small blond seeds and is the variety I have grown most
often. DAVE #407 has medium yellow-brown seeds and is probably the most widely grown variety in western Canada.


(Papaver somniferum) – I am growing 3 edible seeded varieties. They have
large flowers that fade in about 24 hours, and large seed heads. The MAUVE-FLOWERED and PINK-FLOWERED varieties have grey-blue seeds. The PERSIAN (WHITE-FLOWERED) poppy has white seeds, but they are all used similarly in poppy seed cake or on rolls.

Amaranth, Quinoa, and Poppies 1g @ $3.00


(Helianthus annuus) – Each year I seed a row of black-seeded RUSSIAN
sunflowers to share with the birds. They are tall with medium-sized heads and plump seeds. Sunflowers cross easily so you will surely have some plants with black and white seeds.

10g @ $3.00


– For the first time I have grown an oilseed in the garden. It is CAMELINA or SIBERIAN OILSEED (C. sativa) which has been traditionally grown in parts of
Russia for its edible oil and spicy arugula-like leaves. The plants are shorter than canola, with smaller pods and seeds, and mature early. This could be a good alternative to can-ola which has been almost completely contaminated by genetically engineered seed.

5g @ $3.00


(Plantago psyllium) – An annual growing 1’ to 2’ high and about as wide that produces a heavy seed crop. The ground seeds are consumed as a natural laxative, can be consumed as sprouts or to produce an edible oil rich in linoleic acid.


(Salvia hispanica) – has highly nutritious seeds which were roasted, ground, and added to water, forming a gel which was consumed by California native people. The seeds can also be soaked in water or juice and consumed.


(Nigella sativa) – The least decorative of the Nigellas, it has the typical inflated pods. The aromatic seeds are used as seasoning in the Mediteranean, Middle East and India. Also medicinal and a moth ball substitute.

Psyllium, Chia & Black Cumin Packet @ $3.00

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