Reply To: Adopt A Grain Project

Ashley Overstreet

Week 5

It’s difficult to determine the ideal climate and preferred growing conditions for Red Fife. Almost everything you read states that it adapts to a range of growing conditions, can handle extremely cold climates, and is drought tolerant and disease resistant. This is also evident from looking at where it was grown 100 years ago: Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming (USDA Bulletin 1074). From looking at some contemporary US mills that only use local grains, we see that it grows in California, Maine, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Illinois, among others.

In general, wheat is grown in full sun with well-drained, moderately fertile soil. With heritage wheats, you often see a warning about being careful of the nitrogen level as too much nitrogen can cause lodging in these taller wheats. More specifically, hard red spring wheats are grown in the Upper Midwest and Great Plains states (info above from Sara Pitzer’s Homegrown Whole Grains). But as we know, there are already people growing Red Fife outside of these areas. What I’m curious about is how far south/southeast you can grow Red Fife. I know soft red winter wheats can be grown in places like Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, etc, but I’d be interested to hear which heritage wheats (both soft and hard) have been grown successfully.