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Natural Resources & Energy

Ancient Grains Soak Up More Resources; Still Viable Crop For Bighorn Basin

Second planting of Lucile emmer (R) and spring spelt from Canada (L).
Caitlin Youngquist
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Second planting of Lucile emmer (R) and spring spelt from Canada (L).

Back in 2018, the Powell Research and Extension Center started researching how ancient grains would grow in the Bighorn Basin as an alternate crop for farmers.

The idea was to develop a new niche agricultural market for the state by producing first-grains like emmer and spelt. Those are ancestors of modern wheat.

Researchers thought that ancient grains would not require the same amount of resources like water and fertilizer as modern wheat. But Dr. Carrie Eberle, an assistant professor of agronomy at the University of Wyoming, said that turned out to be false.

"Since they are going to be going into a premium product stream, it's not unexpected that we would have to invest more in getting them to grow. So it's not a it's not a deal breaker," said Eberle.

Eberle said so far the grain looks promising for the area.

"We're still working on it. It's still looking promising. And it's still in the developmental phase as far as farmers shouldn't go and plant 1000 acres of it."

In the next year or so, the research will focus on what varieties are best suited for the area and what's the best way to grow them.

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