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Black Emmer is a stunningly beautiful wheat and one of the oldest in cultivation. Possibly the wheat stored in granaries during a famine under the reign of Amenemhet III, Pharaoh of Egypt, (1841 BC-1797 BC).
This ancient grain dates back to the time of Biblical Israel and to Neolithic Europe. The plants are very tall (64 inches) with strong stems that resist lodging. Both drought and wet tolerant (not standing water) and a high degree of disease resistance. It can be cooked as a hot cereal or milled into flour for bread and noodles. Black Winter Emmer is high in fiber and protein (24 grams in one cup). Surprisingly, this wheat is still fairly rare and unavailable to consumers. It does have a tight hull which needs removed before consuming.
This is a winter growth-habit wheat with “knock your socks off” beauty. It will impress the most modern of cereal breeders with its totally erect leaf architecture. Its stems are stiff and lodging-resistant. Heavenly? It reached the amazing and very memorable height of 84 inches in grow-outs conducted by the Kusa Seed organization. It knows where it’s going and it will take you there, too. For this ancient wheat ancestor, you definitely want to bring a photographer onto your place. Its panicles have the exquisite lacy architectural appearance of wild grasses and when it begins to flower, the flower-parts are a light-show of brilliant gold trembling against pale russet florets. When the heads are finishing with their plump spikelets coloring-up to black, you will find early of a morning, beads of silver dew rolling like drops of molten solder down the obsidian walls of one of creation’s masterpieces. Hulled Black Winter Emmer thrives in drought or heavy rain. Fusarium resistant. Savored in soups, bulgar, breakfast cereal or flatbreads and pasta. Highly nutritious. 1 cup = 24g protein.
Photos and Descriptions Courtesy of John Sherck, Kusa Seed Society, and Bill McDorman
John Sherck, Bristol, IN
I planted on October 1st 2018 and harvested on July 24th 2019. Black Winter Emmer was grown in the US back in the early 20th Century. You can read about it in this 1911 USDA Farm Bulletin https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/ORC00000177/PDF
My initial seed stock came from a farmer in Kentucky back in 2015.