Crop: Triticum aestivum L. subsp. spelta (Spelt)

The largest grower of spelt in the UK is in Somerset at Sharpham Park, a 300-acre park where spelt has been cultivated for an estimated 2000 years and the Zollen spelt variety is now grown (, 2019). The owner Roger Saul created branding for the park to sell spelt products with the aim of popularising it in the British diet.

Cultivation System: ND.

Geographical Information

Country: United Kingdom

The largest grower of spelt in the UK is in Somerset at Sharpham Park, a 300-acre park where spelt is cultivated (, 2019). Growth also occurs in various locations throughout the country, though generally on a much smaller scale.

Farmer(s) description:

Spelt grain yield can be very variable, ranging between 2.5 and 4.5 t/ha (Sellars, 2018). At harvest, spelt can be combined or threshed much like winter wheat. Unlike some landrace crops it is compatible with modern and more easily available machinery. After harvest and storage, the grain requires dehulling, and the hull is often left on right up until the milling stage to lock the maximum amount nutrients into the grain.

Sharpham park in Somerset grows Spelt on the largest scale in the UK. Here it is ground in a dedicated spelt mill using traditional materials and methods.

Propagation system: Seed, self-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

Spelt is a self-pollinating crop. Seeds are sown in the autumn and harvest is completed around July. To harvest the spelt (other than for seed collection) a combine can be used. To collect seeds, seed heads are collected and placed in paper bags to dry. They will be viable for several years with the protection of the hull. This hull may present an issue for those growing and processing spelt, as dehulling is expensive and gives around a 40% loss in yield weight (Sellars, 2018).

Management plan existence:

Spelt management relies heavily on those maintaining the landrace, particularly at Sharpham Park in Somerset as this is the major producer of spelt in the UK.

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

Oat has been a traditional animal feed for centuries, and while it is still predominantly grown for Spelt flour is a popular alternative to common wheat flour which has a different taste, and good nutritional value (Bojňanská and Frančáková, 2011). It has a more delicate gluten structure than common wheat making it more easily digestible and more easily tolerated by some people with gluten sensitivities.

Spelt is important as a wheat variety with possible future applications as a source of genetic material. All landraces are important in this respect as they hold a high degree of genetic diversity, but wheat relatives in particular will be key as wheat is expected to feed a large portion of the global population as number increase rapidly (Hoisington et al., 1999). It is entirely possible to select for high bioactive components in wheat for increased health value (Shewry, 2009).

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

There is already a good market demand for spelt products. In order to encourage this market emphasis is placed in the tradition of the grain when advertising products.

There is currently no protection scheme for spelt, and it does not appear on the European Plant Variety Database (v.3.2) (, 2019).

There is currently a fair amount of market interest in spelt in the UK due to its nutritional benefits and unique taste. This suggests a hopeful future for on farm conservation as there continues to be supply cultivated to meet the commercial demand.


Case study provided by University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.