Growing and Marketing Ancient Grains in Wyoming

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2019: $49,995.00
Projected End Date: 04/30/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G243-19-W7502
Grant Recipient: University of Wyoming
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Principal Investigator:

Information Products


  • Agronomic: wheat


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems

    Proposal abstract:

    Growing and Marketing Ancient Grains in Wyoming

    The state of Wyoming is a challenging place to farm due to low soil fertility and quality, saline and alkaline soils, arid conditions, high crop evapotranspiration demands, and isolation from markets. The soil, climate, geographical, and sociopolitical conditions that have historically limited crop diversity and adoption of more common sustainable farming practices like reduced tillage, cover crops, and water conservation.

    Ancient grains are early predecessors of modern grain varieties and include spelt, emmer, and einkorn. The market for these grains has seen rapid growth over the last decade due to their nutritional qualities and flavor profiles. They are reported to require lower water and nutrient inputs than modern varieties and are expected to thrive in Wyoming.

    Our work with ancient grains is part of the “Wyoming First Grains” project, a research and economic development effort of the University of Wyoming. There is strong institutional support for this effort and the response from growers, brewers, and commercial bakers has been very positive. Our goal is to leverage this support and enthusiasm and work with producers to build strong local markets for viable low-input grain crops that thrive on Wyoming farms. We will establish field trials on five farms and three research stations, host a series of workshops on baking and cooking with ancient grains, develop extension bulletins and a cooking video, and work with malters, brewers, and commercial bakers to develop markets.

    This project will study the nitrogen and water demands of spelt, emmer, and einkorn; evaluate crop performance in three growing regions of the state, quantify costs and benefits associated with growing ancient grains in Wyoming; assess impacts of growing conditions on grain quality; develop local markets for cooking, baking, malting, and brewing with ancient grains; and support the establishment of associated industries.


    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Identify best practices for growing einkorn, emmer, and spelt in Wyoming under a variety of conditions. April 2019 – August 2020.
      1. Foster grower innovation and learning by establishing field trials on six farms that include a combination of dryland, irrigated, conventional, no-till, and Certified Organic production systems.
      2. Determine the resource needs of einkorn, emmer, and spelt by measuring crop response to three nitrogen fertility rates on three University of Wyoming research stations under dryland and irrigated conditions.
      3. Identify sustainable production practices by compiling data from across all farm and research station trials on yield, grain quality, lodging, crop water and nutrient use, and cost of production.
    3. Communicate best practices for growing einkorn, emmer, and spelt grain in Wyoming. September 2019 – April 2021.
      1. Host summer field days where collaborating producers, researchers, producers, and consumers can share knowledge and engage in discussion.
      2. Present findings at winter grower meetings.  
      3. Publish a UW Extension Bulletin, write state and regional articles, and create educational videos on growing ancient grains in Wyoming.
    4. Identify and develop regional markets for food and malt produced from einkorn, emmer, and spelt. August 2019 – April 2021
      1. Host workshops for consumers and culinary professionals on cooking and baking with ancient grains and incorporating these alternative grains into their products.
      2. Publish a UW Extension Bulletin and create consumer videos on cooking and baking with ancient grains.
      3. Work with Wyoming Malting to provide Neolithic® brand malted spelt, emmer, and einkorn along with promotional materials to Wyoming craft breweries.
    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.