First Harvest of Ancient Southern Wheat Exceeds Expectations

Posted on Jul 6 2016 - 5:29am by UOG


“Last month, a scientist harvested about 145 pounds of Purple Straw seed, which was grown from less than half a pound. Purple Straw is the only heirloom wheat to have been cultivated continually in the South from the Colonial Period into the last quarter of the 20th century.”

Scientists are taking the first steps of bringing back a valuable heirloom variety of wheat back from near extinction.   Scientist Brian Ward and his team planted and now is harvesting roughly 145 lbs. of Purple Straw seed, which originally started from just less than half a lb.  This variety of wheat had been cultivated in the South from the Colonial Period into the last quarter of the 20th century.  It was abandoned in the 1970’s and replaced with modern hybrids.

“Thus far, it’s been a complete and total success, even better than expected,” said Ward, who planted and nurtured the wheat in the nutrient-rich organic fields surrounding Clemson University’s Coastal Research and Education Center in Charleston. “The panicles (loose, branching clusters) turned out really great, we didn’t have a problem with insects or disease. Everything worked out perfectly.”

To read the entire article, visit: “

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.