Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Performance of modern and traditional spelt wheat (Triticum spelta) varieties in rain-fed and irrigated, organic and conventional production systems in a semi-arid environment; results from exploratory field experiments in Crete, Greece

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Paul BilsborrowORCiD, Dr Leo RempelosORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.Background: Consumer demand for organic spelt wheat has increased rapidly and production has expanded into semi-arid regions, where it was not traditionally grown. Methods: Here, we report the results of a factorial field experiment designed to compare the performance of four spelt varieties grown in rain-fed and irrigated, conventional and organic production systems in a semi-arid environment. Results: Irrigation resulted in 2.5-fold higher grain yields, a reduction in grain protein, taller plants and an increase in stem lodging. While yields of all varieties were similar and low in rain-fed production, the variety Züricher Oberländer Rotkorn (ZOR) produced the highest, Filderstolz and Oberkulmer intermediate and the variety Rubiota the lowest grain yields in irrigated systems. Organic production with chicken or sheep manure as fertilizer resulted in 15% higher yields that mineral NPK fertilizer-based conventional production protocols. Conclusions: Rain-fed spelt production results in very low yields and is therefore unlikely to be commercially viable. Results suggest that organic fertilization regimes and the variety ZOR will result in the highest yields in irrigated systems, while the two traditional spelt varieties Filderstolz and Oberkulmer will more reliably produce grain protein levels that comply with bread-making quality standards.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wang J, Baranski M, Korkut R, Kalee HA, Wood L, Bilsborrow P, Janovska D, Leifert A, Winter S, Willson A, Barkla B, Leifert C, Rempelos L, Volakakis N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Agronomy

Year: 2021

Volume: 11

Issue: 5

Online publication date: 01/05/2021

Acceptance date: 29/04/2021

Date deposited: 19/07/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2073-4395

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/agronomy11050890


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
613609European Commission