Crop: Triticum monococcum L. subsp. monococcum (Einkorn wheat )

Greece is located within the broader area of origin and primary differentiation of the diploid and tetraploid wheat species. Seeds of T. monococcum were found in the Paleolithic sites of Ghediki and Argissa (ca. 6000-5000 BC), and other sites in Greece. These hulled wheat species were gradually displaced by the superior free-threshing tetraploid species. The einkorn landrace called ‘Kaploutzas’, is cultivated at Aridaia, Kilkis and Thessaloniki (Region of Central Macedonia, Greece) on the plains and hillsides by mainly few organic farmers. Papadakis, the founder of the Greek breeding institute, in early 1920s, mentions that einkorn landrace ‘Kaploutzas’ was brought from Anatolia with greek refugees to Thrace and from there to Central Macedonia (Papadakis 1929). The landrace was evident as a crop until before WWII but then was abonded. Until the 1930s, T. monococcum was cultivated on a limited scale in the Thrace and Makedonia regions. It was found also during a 1981-88 collecting expedition launched by the Greek genebank. There is strong evidence that the species is still maintained under cultivation in the small island of Gavdos near the southern coast of Crete, and in some other inaccessible small islands of the Aegean Archipelago (Zamanis et al. 1988).

Collected accessions of landrace ‘Kaploutzas’ are conserved at the Greek genebank. The landrace was revived recently by seed preserved in Greek Genebank through ecological farming networks in 1990s mainly in northern Greece (Jaradat et al. 1995).

Einkorn landrace ‘Kaploutzas’ is a spring type wheat, with no vernalization requirements. The landrace is sown in mid autumn and shows a late flowering (April) and harvest (early of July). It is characterized by an amazing resistance to pests, diseases and drought. Also it shows weed competitiveness, low but stable yields and low input adaptability (Koutis, 2015).

Cultivation System: organic/low input conditions.

Geographical Information

Country: Greece

‘Kaploutzas’ is cultivated in Central Macedonia (northern Greece). Τhe landrace is cultivated in small separated fields, for a total of 50-70 hectares.

Farmer(s) description:

During the 90s, the landrace had nearly disappeared until Greek Genebank released seed to seed savers networks and few pioneer farmers.

Currently, however, the number of farmers now cultivating ‘Kaploutzas’ increased thanks to provisions and support of seed saving networks (AEGILOPS, Peliti) and organic farming movements. The landrace ‘Kaploutzas’ is nowadays cultivated mainly in Central Macedonia (northern Greece) but as a crop is expanded southern to other parts of Greece (Region of Thessaly) and cultivated in small or medium separated fields, for a total of 60-80 hectares by a small number of organic growers.

Propagation system: Seed, self-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

The einkorn is a predominantly self-pollinating plant. Although, there are no other einkorn types grown in the fields except ‘Kaploutzas’ so there are no possible crosses. Each farmer multiplies his own seed under slightly different agronomic conditions. At harvesting, some farmers select seeds that will be used for the next season. But frequently it happens that a combine thresher hired for threshing to mix einkorn with other cereals harvested the same period (bread or durum wheat) as most of farmers do not own such equipment. Farmers usually exchange seeds when one farmer seeks better seed quality from a neighbour and can find pure einkorn seeds.

Management plan existence:

The landrace management relies completely on farming activities in the area.

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

It has an on growing, local organic niche market due to its special taste, rich dietary properties and limited production. Most of the farmers sell the products directly at organic folk or farmers' markets or by using local distributors. Dehulling and processing is a quite costly task which raises cost production and final prices to end users. Some of the farmers use self-invented dehulling equipment and mill the grain at local traditional water mills of the area of Aridaia of Municipality of Almopia. While the market for ‘Kaploutzas’ could be expanded, no territorial or quality brand has been adopted until now.

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

In 2006 ‘Kaploutzas’ was registered into the catalogue of extensive crops threatened by genetic erosion and funded under Measure 3.8 of Axis 3 ‘Agro-environment measures’ of the Agricultural Development Programme 2000-2006 following the implementation of the Common Ministerial Desicion 620/135644/06-07-2005 (Ministerial Desicion 218151/23-06-2006, Governmental Gazette 823/4-7-2006).

In 2018, an application was made to the Variety Research Institute of the Cultivated Plants of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food for the registration of the landrace in the Catalogue of Conservation Varieties according to the EC Recommendation 2008/62/EU of the 20th June 2008 (L 162)’. The above actions aim to the protection of ‘Kaploutzas’ from genetic erosion and its utilization to less fertile, severe pedoclimatic or low input conditions.

Subsidies were given from the Ministry of Rural Development and Food to the farmers for continuing the cultivation and maintainance of ‘Kaploutzas’ under Measure 3.8 of Axis 3 ‘Agro-environment measures’ for the conservation of extensive crops, threatened by genetic erosion.

AEGILOPS NGO (Network for Biodiversity and Ecology in Agriculture) is supporting on farm conservation of the landrace ‘Kaploutzas’. AEGILOPS mission, among others is to conserve heritage varieties and traditional agricultural knowledge and to restore landrace varieties into contemporary agricultural practice in ways that benefit community. AEGILOPS is supporting organic farmers' network cultivating the landrace in northern Greece and promote their quality organic products. Moreover, organic participatory breeding is contacted to improve agronomic performance and quality.

The Genebank of the Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources of the Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DEMETER) collaborated with members from AEGILOPS Network for the registration of ‘Kaploutzas’ landrace to the Catalogue of Conservation Varieties.

Accessions of ‘Kaploutzas’ are kept, under long terms storage conditions in the Genebank of the Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources of the Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DEMETER (Stavropoulos et al. 2006).

Provisions set by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food for the conservation of landraces threaten by genetic erosion, for the registration of conservation varieties and organic niche market development, may contribute to on farm conservation in the future

Uncertain. To have access to the resource

Case study prepared by Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DEMETER, Greece.

Most of the information has been provided by Dr Nikos Stavropoulos, former curator of the Greek Genebank, NAGREF).

  • Jaradat AA, Kanbertay M, Peña-Chocarro L, Hammer K, Stavropoulos N, Perrino P (1995) Ex situ conservation of hulled wheats. In: Hulled wheats. Padulosi S, Hammer K, Heller J (eds). IPGRI, Rome.
  • Koutis K (2015) Selection and evaluation of emmer, einkorn and spelta germplasm in Greece for organic farming adaptability and bakery-nutritional quality. Acta fytotechn zootechn 18 (Special Issue): 81-82.
  • Papadakis JS (1929) Formes Grecques de blé. Bulletin Scientifique No 1. Station d’ Amélioration des Plantes—A Salonique, p 57.
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  • Zamanis A, Samaras S, Stavropoulos N, Dille J (1988). Report of an expedition to rescue germplasm of Wild species of Wheat and Relatives in Greece, June 1988. Scientific Bulletin No5. Greek Genebank, NAGREF, Thessaloniki, pp. 22.