Optimizing yield, milling quality, and disease management in spelt production in the mid-Atlantic

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2017: $57,281.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2021
Grant Recipient: The Pennsylvania State University
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Alyssa Collins
Penn State Southeast Agricultural Research & Extension Center

Information Products


  • Agronomic: spelt


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, varieties and cultivars
  • Pest Management: cultural control, integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, transitioning to organic

    Proposal abstract:

    Problem and justification

    Spelt and other heritage grains are in increasing demand among consumers and millers as a specialty product. However, there is little information concerning best management practices available to farmers growing or interested in growing these crops in Pennsylvania. Further, there is no current information concerning the performance and relative disease resistance of available grain varieties in Pennsylvania. Farmers are seeking answers to their production questions, especially in regard to disease and stored pest issues.


    Solution and approach

    An educational program will be designed to increase farmer knowledge in the areas of heritage wheat production and pest management. Farmers will share knowledge with one another and take advantage of entomology and plant pathology expertise to become familiar with pest identification and management. The educational opportunities resulting from the project will include field days, workshops, and Extension publications. These resources will be targeted toward Pennsylvania growers, but will also be made available to farmers, educators and crop consultants in the greater mid-Atlantic region.


    In order to identify potential disease resistance in varieties that are well-suited to Pennsylvania, a research component of variety trials focused on spelt will be located at two on-farm sites and one research & extension center (PSU Southeast Ag Research & Extension Center (SEAREC), Lancaster County, PA) for three years. Researchers and farmers will evaluate five varieties of spelt, chosen in consultation with local millers and farmers. Varieties will be evaluated for yield and disease, and analyzed for milling quality. Results will be shared through academic research articles, non-refereed publications and extension presentations.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Fifty farmers will identify and manage heritage grain diseases and stored grain insects, subsequently decreasing yield losses by $100 per acre by 2020.Twenty-five farmers, representing over 1,000 acres in heritage grain production, will reduce input costs by $50 per acre using disease resistant varieties of spelt by 2021.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.