Reply To: Adopt A Grain Project

Ashley Overstreet

Week 3

I found a couple of different stories about the origins of Red Fife wheat, but isn’t that what every internet search yields? I figured I’d consult the USDA publications to eliminate some of the extraneous material. Funnily enough, the USDA Bulletin 1074 also mentions the fact that there are several conflicting stories about Red Fife’s introduction into North America. It says that Red Fife was introduced into the US by way of Germany, Scotland, and Canada. As for an origin story, it says the “most authentic” version is that David Fife of Otonabee, Ontario, Canada received some seeds in 1842 from a friend in Glasgow, Scotland. The sample was supposedly from Russia by way of Danzig, Germany (now GdaƄsk, Poland). Fife sowed it in the spring, but it was actually a winter wheat (now it can be grown at either time, depending upon where you live). From this wheat descended what we now know as Red Fife. (Paraphrased from pg. 92 of USDA Bulletin 1074)

One of the other origin stories posits that Red Fife is Ukranian in origin as it resembles halychanka, a Ukranian wheat variety. Another story states that it is an accidental hybrid. Interestingly, “government agronomists are convinced that the properties of red fife and its capacity to adapt to the extreme weather conditions mean that it is the only forerunner of cultivated varieties of wheat”. (Quoted from Red Fife’s entry in the 2014 Slow Food Ark of Taste, accessed on Google: Regardless of its origin, Red Fife is indeed tough enough to withstand the dry Colorado climate, a rainier-than-usual summer, the neighborhood rabbits, and my two rabbit-chasing terriers.