If the winter is very long, especially if the soil is covered by snow for more than 100 days you may have problems with plants killed by snow mould or typhula with wheat in opposite to spelt (JACQUOT et al., 1960; HEIN, 1989). Spelt has the advantage of a late date of sowing, on the other hand wheat has to be sown in the middle of October at the latest. Spelt can be sown until the end of October or later, because the plants have the ability to „sleep" under the blanket of snow until spring before they germinate. Wheat plants should germinate in autumn and make one or two leaves to develop well. As well spelt is not very demanding for nutrients, the soil and the climate (ZÜLLIG, 1985). So it is easier to grow spelt than to grow wheat if the environmental circumstances are not the best (HEIN, 1997).
Projektleiter: DI Waltraud Hein
Of course, there are also disadvantages with spelt in comparison to wheat (WADEPHUL, 1994). Normally spelt has much straw which is necessary for cattle - farmers. The problem with the long stems of the spelt varieties is the lodging under wet conditions. Almost all spelt varieties which have very high plants have the tendency towards lodging after heavy rainfalls. It depends on the intensity of rainfalls from what time on the spelt varieties are lodging; if it is very early in the vegetation period it is has an effect as well on the yield of the kernels as on the quality of the them. The advantage of spelt grain are the hulls which protect the kernels very well. So the fungi cannot get into the kernels as easy as with other cereals but they only infest the hulls. The hulls protect the kernels against attacks from birds, as it often happens with cereals in alpine regions where only a few fields are cultivated with cereals.
It always was said that spelt is not as liable to diseases as wheat but that is wrong. It depends on the variety you use, because some varieties are more infested than others. There are varieties which are the so-called „true" spelt varieties, those are Oberkulmer Rotkorn, Schwabenkorn, Ostro (POPOW, 1978); they are not crossed with wheat. Therefor these varieties have very long stems and the yield of spikelets is not low. Other varieties such as Hubel, Rouquin, Redoute are already crossed with wheat-varieties, so the yield is higher and the straw is shorter (WINZELER et al., 1994; RIMLE et al., 1995).
From the end of the 19th century spelt was replaced by wheat in Austria because wheat had normally higher yields than spelt. The area for growing spelt decreased to a few hectares until the movement for a healthier life started in the beginning of the 80ties. Many people wanted to eat bread made of spelt instead of wheat because they thought it was healthier. Therefor the area for spelt increased again, now there is an area about 1500 ha for spelt in whole Austria (OBERFORSTER, 1999). Many of the farmers who grow spelt are biological farmers, that means, they are not allowed to use any pesticide or any mineral nitrogen fertiliser. These farmers sell most of the produced spelt by themselves or they make bread for selling on farmers' markets. Also some bakers make special products of spelt, as bread, rolls and cakes. Even other products as beer or pastas can be made of spelt, but there are specialists in other countries.
So spelt had a renaissance in Austria from the beginning of the 80ties. Therefor the BAL Gumpenstein started field trials with this crop because of testing different varieties in comparison to winter-rye or winter-wheat or triticale. It was found out that most of the spelt varieties developed better under the same conditions than winter-wheat. Only under extremely bad conditions spelt varieties had problems with diseases like snow mould or typhula after a long covering by snow. As well it could be seen that some spelt varieties are infested by other diseases like mildew, rust or septoria if the weather conditions help further.
Sub-task 1.1 Field trials
To find out which spelt varieties are adapted best to the different climatic conditions in Middle, Western and Northern Europe this EU-project was started in 1997 on different locations, spread over many European countries. The part of the BAL Gumpenstein was to carry out field trials on two different locations to test the spelt varieties under the climatic conditions of the alpine region. One location was the main experimental field in Gumpenstein, which is situated in the alps, just where the limestone mountains and the central massif meet, a typical location for grassland production, at a height of 710 m above sea-level with 1018 mm yearly rainfall and an average temperature of 6,9° C, during the vegetation period about 15,8° C. The second location was at Authal from 1997 to 1998 and at Kobenz in the year 1999, a branch of the institute about 100 km in the south in a broad valley, where different crops are grown. There the height is 680 m above sea-level, an average temperature of 6,6° C, during the vegetation period about 14,2° C and a yearly rainfall of 850 mm.
On both locations we have cambi soil, without any lime. At Gumpenstein the soil type is a sandy loam with 30% sand, 63% silt and 7% clay. The pH-value at that location is 5,8 and the humus content is 3,4%. At Kobenz the soil type is a loamy sand with 54% sand, 35% silt and 11% clay. The pH-value is 5,5, the humus content is 4,4%.
Description of the objectives of the task
For the development of spelt as a significant alternative cereal in Europe it is necessary to characterise the adaptability of different spelt varieties in different parts of Europe. As well it is necessary to assess the competitiveness of spelt in comparison with other cereals in different regions in Europe. It is necessary to demonstrate the practicability and the interest of spelt growing in low fertility areas as well as in sensitive ones, too.
This Austrian part of the project was to test the adaptability of more spelt varieties than there were in the Austrian National variety-list. The opportunity was given with this project to compare 11 European varieties from the three European spelt breeders. Each partner had the possibility to chose the varieties for comparison by himself, only the 11 spelt varieties were the same for all partners. Because there were two Austrian participants both of them used the same varieties for comparison although the locations were in different parts of Austria under different climatic conditions. Especially in the mountainous parts of Austria which contain almost two thirds of the whole area the single variety plays an important role for economic process because of the strong microclimatic differences.
The varieties for comparison varied from year to year by one or two varieties. Several winter wheat varieties were used and mostly one additional spelt variety, the most common spelt variety in Austria. To find out the competitiveness of spelt in contrast to winter wheat all conditions were the same for all varieties. The problem was the late date of sowing because of the late receiving of the spelt seeds. Normally winter wheat is sown until the middle of October, but in this project the earliest date for sowing was the 20th of October in a very wet and cold autumn. Therefor all winter wheat varieties had great disadvantages in contrast to the spelt varieties which are not sensitive about a late date of sowing.
The field trials were always treated in the same way during the three years. The fertilisers were given in mineral form and had the following amounts: 81 kg/ha nitrogen, 91 kg/ha phosphorus and 120 kg/ha potassium. The nitrogen was split in two or three applications.
Weed protection was done by a curry; neither insecticides nor fungicides were applied. Besides no stem-shortener was used for seeing the original length of the straw of the single varieties.
Actions done during the three years
During the three years of the whole project the BAL Gumpenstein carried out two field trials yearly on two different locations which were described above. The field trials were observed exactly, a lot of data were noticed. At ripeness the trials were harvested and the yield was measured, not only the yield of spikelets but also the yield of straw. Afterwards samples were chemically analysed and further samples were determined for their ability of making bread or rolls. The results of the bread making quality were done in the BFL in Vienna by Mr. Werteker and are published by him.
In spring and in summer several excursions were guided on the main experimental field in Gumpenstein and a few at Authal and Kobenz. Those were many farmers, students of the university of agriculture of Vienna, advisers, teachers, a group of advisers from Norway, a group from the university of agriculture of Budweis, many pupils from agricultural schools and consumers. A meeting was held in Gumpenstein about crops in alpine regions with the main topic in diseases of cereals. So the field trial with the spelt varieties was a good and interesting field for demonstration. Generally most of the people who visited the experimental field in Gumpenstein were very interested in the spelt varieties, especially farmers who do organic farming.
Research activities (detailed)
The research activities were to carry out the field trials exactly. The plots were arranged in the best way for a statistical analyse. All trials were carried out in four replications per variety. The size of the plots was 10,5 m² at Authal or Kobenz and 14 m² at Gumpenstein. All treatments in the fields were done with the necessary accuracy such trials demand. The sowing was done by a plot drilling machine and the harvest was done by a plot combine harvester, all other treatments for cultivating were done by common machines.
After sowing the seeds the date of germination was noticed, as far as it was possible. Sometimes the stage at the time when the snow covered the plants was noticed as well. After melting of snow the number of the surviving plants was counted and later during summer the number of stems was counted, too. All diseases and all stages of plants' development were noticed and the yield of spikelets and straw was measured per plot. At harvest samples were taken on one hand for chemical analyses such as the dry matter content and the Weender's analyse for crude protein, crude fibre, crude fat and crude ash and on the other hand for determinations to test the bread-making-quality. After harvest the spikelets were dehulled to get the yield of the naked grain. The percentage of the hulls was determined; in the first year of the project the dehulling was done at a farmer with a tanning machine and a pre-cleaning machine. In the year 1998 the process was done by an own machine in the institute. With the chemical analyses the content of grain and straw was determined separately; in most of the cases the content of spikelets and of naked grain was analysed separately, too.
Significant difficulties encountered during the project
One significant difficulty during the whole project was the late date of sowing which had a great influence on the development and the yield of the winter wheat varieties for comparison. These difficulties happened each year on both locations. The conditions for winter wheat were worse than it had been sown to a normal date, in the first half of October.
Another problem was a heavy thunderstorm in the year 1998 at Authal which destroyed the whole field trial there. So there are only two results from the institute's branch at Authal respectively Kobenz.
Another problem is the difference between the dehulling system in the year 1997 and the two years later. The percentage of naked grain from 1997 does not exactly agree with the results of the year 1998 and 1999.
The conclusion of the field trials of the three years are the following:
Almost all spelt varieties are well adapted to the rough and wet climate of the alpine region of Austria. The comparison with different winter wheat varieties does not show the real situation because of the very late date of sowing. So the development of all winter wheat varieties was inhibited and you cannot see the real capacity of these varieties. Normally the yield of winter wheat is higher than in this project, so it is difficult to compare with each other. If we had taken winter-rye or triticale for comparison the situation would have been the same because for those crops the date of sowing would also have been too late.
Nevertheless the varieties Hercule and Hubel were the best in spite of the yield of spikelets and of naked grain. In almost every year one of these two varieties was best. Here the positive influence of the crossing with wheat can be seen in comparison to the true spelt varieties. Bad results came from the variety Balmegg which is a crossing between spelt and triticale. If you want to see the yield of straw the situation is quite different. In this parameter the true spelt varieties as Oberkulmer Rotkorn or Schwabenkorn have the highest yield of straw.
Sub-task 1.2 Evaluation of the competitiveness of spelt
To evaluate the competitiveness of spelt as against other cereals it is necessary to treat them in the same way as spelt. The problem in this part of the project was just this question. If spelt is sown at a very late date it causes no problem for the spelt varieties but for those varieties that are for comparison. Winter wheat cannot develop well if it is sown in the end of October. Therefor the yield of almost all winter wheat varieties is lower than in other field trials which are sown in the beginning of October. Spelt has quite different characteristics so it can survive under a covering with snow easier than winter wheat. Even if the plants do not have germinated in autumn it is no problem for them. With winter wheat plants it is the best if the can develop in autumn at least until stage 11 or 12 (two leaves' stage) to survive well. If the plants can reach a further stage it is better, only the stage of tillering is too far for autumn.
In these field trials the winter wheat varieties are not the same each year. Although each participant had the possibility to use five varieties for comparison we only used four winter wheat varieties and one spelt variety. In the year 1997 we took the wheat varieties Erla Kolben, Silvius, Capo and Pegassos as well as the spelt variety Ostro because most of the farmers in Austria use that spelt variety. In the year 1998 we used three wheat varieties (Erla Kolben, Capo and Pegassos) and two spelt varieties (Ostro and ÖKO 10) for comparison. In 1999 there were the same varieties than the year before. The winter wheat varieties had been chosen because in all Austrian field experiments we used the same varieties for comparison. Maybe winter-rye or triticale would have been better for the alpine locations as Gumpenstein or maybe even Authal.
Sub-task 1.3 Field visit
A lot of excursions came to Gumpenstein during the years 1997 to 1999 to visit the main experimental field and so the spelt trials as well. Besides there were some special groups of people to visit mainly the spelt trials, sometimes in combination with meetings. At the branch in Authal, respectively Kobenz some excursions came, too, mostly farmers, advisers, pupils or consumers. In Gumpenstein the people of the excursions were explained the different spelt varieties in comparison to the wheat varieties. Most of the farmers were very interested in the recovered crop, especially those who came from other alpine regions or who do organic farming.
HEIN, W., 1989: Dinkel in Grenzlagen des Getreidebaues. Förderungsdienst, 37 (2), 54-55.
HEIN, W., 1997: Dinkelanbau in inneralpinen Lagen. Festschrift 50 Jahre Gumpenstein, 163-172.
JACQUOT, R.; ADRIAN, J. und A. RERAT, 1960: Eine vergessene Getreideart: Der Spelz (Dinkel). Zeitschrift f. Acker- und Pflanzenbau, 111 (3), 279-288.
KLING, Ch. I., 1989: Dinkel - ein altes Getreide tritt in den Vordergrund. Vortragsband des 1. Dinkelsymposiums der Universität Hohenheim, vom 29.7.1988, 1. Band, 29-47.
OBERFORSTER, M., 1999: Personal communication, Bundesamt u. Forschungszentrum Wien
POPOW, G., 1978: Ostro, eine neue Kornsorte. Mitteilungen Schweizer Landwirtschaft, 26 (11), 204-208.
RIMLE, R.; RUEGGER, A.; SCHMID, J. und P. STAMP, 1995: Vergleich von Weizen und Dinkel sowie ihrer F1-Hybriden. Agrarforschung, 2 (11-12), 512-515.
RUEGGER, A.; WINZELER, H. und J. NÖSBERGER, 1990: Die Ertragsbildung von Dinkel (Triticum spelta L.) und Weizen (Triticum aestivum L.) unter verschiedenen Umweltbedingungen im Freiland. J. Agronomy and Crop Science 164, 145-152.
WADEPHUL, F., 1994: Spelt Wheat (Triticum aestivum ssp. spelt) - Does it have a Potential in Sustainable Agriculture? Report submitted for the MSc, Wye College, University of London.
WINZELER, H., 1989: Dinkelanbau und Dinkelforschung in der Schweiz. Vortragsband des 1. Dinkelsymposiums der Universität Hohenheim vom 29.7.1988, 1, 51-59.
WINZELER, H. und A. RUEGGER, 1990: Dinkel: Renaissance einer alten Getreideart. Landwirtschaft Schweiz, 3 (9), 503-511.
WINZELER, H.; WEILENMANN, F.; SAURER, W.; KELLER, B.; WINZELER, M. und R. JAQUIERY, 1994: Hubel - eine neue schweizerische Dinkelsorte. Agrarforschung, 1 (7), 323-325.
ZELLER, O., 1987: Dinkel oder Spelz, das ehemalige Schwabenkorn. Demeter - Blätter, 42, 3-6.
ZÜLLIG, M., 1985: Dinkel - altes Getreide im Aufwind. Zum Beispiel, 12, 3-6.
In this project the adaptability of different European spelt varieties to different climatic conditions was tested during the years 1997 to 1999. In the case of the Austrian participation the adaptability of the spelt varieties to the rough and wet climate of the alpine climate should be tested and therefor some other varieties were necessary for comparison. The Austrian varieties for comparison were winter wheat and spelt. Although spelt is said to be well adapted to long and rough winters there was some experience with problems in very extreme winters with a long duration of covering with snow. So it was of great interest to compare different spelt varieties under the same conditions on two locations in the alpine region.
One location is situated at Gumpenstein, in the geographical centre of Austria, at the border between the Northern limestone and the crystalline mountains, in the Upper Enns Valley, at 710 m above sea level, 6,8°C average temperature and 1010 mm yearly rainfall. The second location is about 100 km in the south, in the Upper Mur Valley, at 673 m above sea level, 6,6°C average temperature and 850 mm yearly rainfall. The name of this location for the year 1997 and 1998 was Authal, the name of the location for the year 1999 was Kobenz. Unfortunately there was a heavy thunderstorm in the year 1998 at Authal which destroyed the mature crop the day before it was harvested. So the results of this trial as yields of spikelets and straw are missing.
The field trials were sown in October by a drilling machine as soon as we had received the seeds. Unfortunately it was in the third decade of October which is early enough for spelt but too late for winter wheat. And anyway, the autumns of the years 1997 and 1998 were extremely wet and cold so it was very difficult to find quite good conditions for sowing. In the autumn of 1996 the weather was better so it could be sown easier but late, too.
Every year the same 11 spelt varieties were grown by all participants who carried out field trials. Each participant was allowed to chose 5 further varieties for comparison to test the competitiveness of spelt. Here we have one problem with it: because of the late date of sowing the winter wheat varieties could not display their whole potential of yield.
The plants germinated either in late autumn or in early spring depending on the weather. Only in autumn 1996 the plants did not germinate in autumn because the first snow came in the middle of November and when the snow melted in the beginning of March the plants could be seen in the one or two leaves' stage. In the two other years the one or two leaves' stage could be reached in late autumn. The duration of the winter was varying , from year to year and from location to location. In Gumpenstein the time of a snow covered field is about 100 days or less, which is normally no problem for spelt and wheat but if it is more than 100 days it gets a problem for those crops. The overwintering was quite good with the most varieties, neither snow mould nor typhula could be observed as soon as the snow had melted. Only the winter wheat varieties were in a worse condition than the spelt varieties caused by the late date of sowing. The numbers of plants per m² were counted in early spring; there big differences were found between the varieties. In the year 1997 the numbers of plants per m² were relatively high at Authal, here the absolutely highest value was found with the spelt variety Ostar (452 plants/m²), followed by Sertel (433), Hubel (418) and Ebners Rotkorn (405). In the year 1998 the number of plants per m² were less, the highest values were about 300 plants, the lowest with 200. In the year 1999 the values from Gumpenstein and Kobenz differed a lot, in Gumpenstein the numbers of plants/m² were between 143 (Ostar) and 357 (Ostro). In Kobenz the values varied from 169 (Hubel) to 415 (Ebners Rotkorn).
Later, at the time of grain ripening the numbers of spikes per m² were counted. One fact is noticeable: the variation in Gumpenstein is much bigger than at the second location. In the year 1997 the lowest number at Gumpenstein is 376 with the wheat variety Silvius, the highest 613 with Franckenkorn. At Authal the lowest number was counted with Silvius as well (448), the highest with Ostar (572). In the year 1998 the situation was contrary. Here the variation at Gumpenstein only reached from 346 (Oberkulmer Rotkorn) to 468 of a wheat variety (Erla Kolben). At Authal the lowest number was 419 with Oberkulmer Rotkorn as well, the highest with Ostro (608). In the year 1999 the highest number was reached on both locations by a wheat variety (Pegassos), the lowest at Gumpenstein by Ostar (246), at Kobenz by Hercule (393).
The observation in the field during the vegetation period was carefully in spite of diseases and pests. The development of the plants was quite well, before the beginning of July there were no problems at all. Mostly in the middle of July, when the weather is warm and wet because of many thunderstorms powdery mildew, ear blotch or brown rust can be observed. The intensity of infestation depends on the weather first of all, but is connected with the variety, too. 1997 only ear blotch could be noticed at Gumpenstein, 1998 was a year of more diseases. In the year 1999 the infestation at Gumpenstein was worse than at Kobenz. In most of the cases the wheat varieties were more infested than the spelt varieties. Nevertheless it is really difficult to find out those varieties that are infested least. There is no variety totally resistant against different diseases. Problems with pests were not registered.
All dates were noticed when a special stage of development was reached. First the date of heading was noticed, mostly in the beginning of June, the single varieties differed only a few days. Later the date of grain ripening was noticed. The variation from year to year is about 5 to 7 days, depending on the weather. Normally the wheat varieties are faster in their development than the spelt varieties.
The harvest was done by a plot combine harvester when all varieties were ripe. Mostly one or two spelt varieties used more time for ripening. The problem at that time are heavy thunderstorms which can happen and then it lasts for at least one day until the straw is dry enough for the harvester combine. In the year 1998 one day before harvest a heavy thunderstorm destroyed the whole trial at Authal. Therefor there are only data from observation but no yield.
The weight of all plots was determined, a sample was taken for analysing the water content. At the same time the straw of all plots was weighed, and a sample was taken as well. A statistical analyse of each field trial was done afterwards.
The highest average yield of spikelets is from Kobenz from the year 1999, here we have 5419 kg/ha. The same trend can be seen at Gumpenstein, here the average yield from the year 1999 was the highest, too. The lowest average yield of spikelets was measured in the year 1998 at Gumpenstein with 4116 kg/ha. Within the varieties the absolutely highest yield could be found with the spelt variety Hubel (6183 kg/ha) at Kobenz in the year 1999. The absolutely highest yield at Gumpenstein was found with the spelt variety Hercule (6034 kg/ha) in the year 1999. Spelt varieties with a low yield of spikelets are Oberkulmer Rotkorn, Ebners Rotkorn and Balmegg. The winter wheat varieties for comparison could not show their whole potential for yield because of the late date of sowing. Only Pegassos is that variety which can develop best when the date of sowing is in the third decade of October.
If we view the yield of straw we see that those spelt varieties have the highest yield which have only a low yield of spikelets. Oberkulmer Rotkorn is almost that variety with the highest yield of straw. The average yield is highest in the year 1999 on both locations and lowest in the year 1998.
Later on the samples were totally chemical analysed and the hulls were removed by a dehulling machine. In the year 1997 this procedure was done at a farmer, from the year 1998 on it was done at the BAL Gumpenstein after buying a similar machine. The results are not totally the same because of differences in the whole system.
The absolutely highest yield of naked grain can be found in the year 1997 in Gumpenstein with the variety Hubel with 4389 kg/ha. The same variety is not as good in Authal, the best variety in naked grain is Hercule with 4327 kg/ha. Although we have high yields of spikelets in the year 1999 the percentage of naked grain is not as high as 1997. Maybe it depends very much on the dehulling machine. The yields of the year 1998 were generally lower than of the other years. The best variety in the year 1999 was Hercule in Gumpenstein with 4180 kg/ha and Hubel in Kobenz with 4079 kg/ha. It can be seen very clearly which varieties are best but the worst varieties vary much from year to year.
The yields of spikelets, naked grain, and straw can be found in own tables.
The research work on spelt will be continued with testing further varieties in the alpine climate.