Appalachian White Wheat

Asked August 9, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT

I would like some information on the origin of Appalachian White Wheat. I believe that it was "developed" at North Carolina State University. Is this a cultivar of a heritage variety? Is it a hybrid? If so, is it a naturally produced hybrid? I understand that it was used in trials at the Rock Springs Center. Any information that you can provide would be appreciated. Thanks!

Cumberland County Pennsylvania

4 Responses

Appalachian White Winter wheat was developed by several USDA breeders in conjunction with NC State using conventional methods. It was released in 2009 to provide a hard white wheat that grows reasonably well in our environment. Its non GMO, not a hybrid, but not a heritage variety. Here is a brief description on how its being used down there:

Mills and bakeries in North Carolina have used the wheat varieties in some of their products. The ARS unit has a long-running project with Carolina Ground, an artisan mill and bakery in Asheville, North Carolina. The bakery uses Appalachian White and NuEast in their artisan flours and baking recipes, according to Marshall.

Appalachian White is also in use by another local establishment, Riverbend Malt House—the first malt house in the eastern United States. The owners produce barley, wheat and rye malt, and their wheat malt is mainly made from Appalachian White wheat. The barley they use most is Thoroughbred, a 6-row barley developed and released by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Marshall is currently working with the malting industry on breeding a winter 2-row barley specifically for western North Carolina production.

The eastern United States is not hospitable to growing hard wheats, the type of wheat best suited for making breads and crackers, because the area’s humidity increases the incidence of disease in the fields. This in turn affects yield and quality of the grain. According to Marshall, NuEast has significantly higher grain yield than the check varieties over 4 years of field tests. It has good resistance to leaf rust and is moderately resistant to stem rust, including Ug99 races.

In our experience it has been pretty good. It gets some leaf blotch diseases, but yields pretty well. It paced 5th in our trial over 3 years. Its relatively short and bearded. It resists lodging pretty well. To get seed, you might try contacting the folks at Small Valley Milling in Halifax, as they had been growing some.

Hi, Greg, thanks so much for the speedy and very informative response! I actually drove up to Small Valley Milling yesterday and bought some Appalachian white wheat. I also bought some of their red wheat (variety unknown), spelt, emmer, rye, and blue cornmeal. Lovely people, I feel lucky that they're so close by.

Is it possible to briefly explain to a layperson how a grain is developed without being either GMO or a hybrid?

I'm in the Harrisburg area, do you know of anyone around who grows any heritage wheat varieties?

Many thanks for sharing this information - great resource!

A GMO is a transgenic variety and that means that an advanced process was used to incorporate a gene from another crop or organism into the original crop. This is only done on certain crops like corn and soybeans and not wheat. So there are no GMO or transgenic wheat varieties.

A hybrid is the cross between two different lines to produce a superior plant that has high yield and vigor. They start by creating inbred lines, which are bred to themselves for many generations to create genetic purity. Then adjacent rows of male (pollen donor) and female (pollen acceptor) lines are grown. The seeds are collected from the pollen acceptors and contain genes from both parents. Also all seeds are genetically similar. This was developed in corn in the 1930s and was very successful and led to rapid yield gains in plant breeding, especially in corn and were widely adopted there. Hybrids are more difficult to do in wheat and are generally not available.

There are some heritage lines being grown in the state. McGreary Grain in Lancaster produces some Hertiage flour you can read about here:

I dont know of any others, but one of my collaborators on our project Elizabeth Dyck, at OGRIN has been working more with the farmers. I think she has some contacts. You could email her and ask. she would be glad to share some : She maintains a website for organic growers:

Here is an article she appeared in

Hope this was useful!

Thanks so much for the additional information, Greg. It's very helpful! I'll contact McGreary Grain and Elizabeth Dyck. Best wishes to you!