Conference paper Open Access

ʻSorting the wheat from the chaffʼ - Comments on the spelt [:wheat] discussion

Grausgruber, Heinrich

The interest in spelt wheat and other so-called ʻancient grainsʼ increased significantly in recent years. Compared to einkorn and
emmer, however, spelt is not an ʻancientʼ wheat in terms of a cereal founder crop. Moreover, breeding programs in the second half of the 20th century changed the phenotype of spelt wheat from a tall, lodging prone and low input and low yielding crop to a semi-dwarf crop with high yield potential under higher inputs by crosses with common wheat. Since then, there‘s a discussion on the ʻpurityʼ and/or authenticity of spelt among consumers, processors, growers and breeders. In the following, the history of European spelt wheat is outlined, demonstrating that the crop experienced repeatedly gene introgressions from common wheat. Methods claiming to differentiate between pure/traditional and modern varieties based on storage protein patterns are in practice not working for authenticity control. Honoring consumersʼ trust in spelt products, irrespective of their motives, it is suggested that breeders stick to typical spelt characteristics during their selection and that processors keep the specific quality traits in spelt products. In turn, marketers are invited not to make false claims related to health issues.

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