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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:


Latin Name: Triticum aestivum var. spelta

Plant Family: Poaceae

Close Relatives: members of the wheat family

Uses and Markets: Culinary: pastas, high fibre cereals etc.; Livestock feed

Spelt prior to harvest and threshing (photo credit Nevio, seed head (photo credit Koi88, seed prior to dehulling (photo credit Fekete Tibor, Dehulled spelt seed (photo credit Sarah2,
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone

5-8 (depending on variety). Generally lavandins or hybrid varieties (Lavandula x intermedia) are less hardy.

Special Notes

Spelt is grown similarly to winter wheat.  It takes longer to mature, but is more winter hardy.  Spelt is mostly grown under organic crop production techniques for high value specialty markets.  Champ is an improved variety developed by the Ohio State University.

Propagation method

Seeds.  Plant into moisture ideally at a depth of 2.5 cm

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Fall, similar to winter wheat

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

1-1.5 cm

Between row spacing

 18-19 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



Refer to the OMAFRA publication 811, Agronomy for Field Crops for fertility recommendations for winter wheat.  Excess nitrogen can cause lodging in spelt.

Soil type

All soil types; will grow on low-fertility and poorly drained soils

Soil pH

Acidic to alkaline, pH 6-8

Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range

Temperate climate

Temperature sensitivity


Irrigation requirements

Irrigation usually not required.

Days to harvest

 slightly longer than winter wheat

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest.  When direct combined, moisture level should be 14%.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

machine harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Harvesting is similar to winter wheat.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

dry to 14% moisture

Storage Conditions: similar to winter wheat

Relative humidity (RH): N/A

Temperature: N/A

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: One or more years if properly stored (oil and dried products)

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates:


Other Potential Pests:The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates:


*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.


Spelt is a subspecies of wheat and pests are likely to be very similar to pests of conventional wheat in Ontario.  Refer to OMAFRA Publication 811 – Agronomy Guide for Field Crops for information on common pests of wheat in Ontario. 

This crop is in Crop Group 15: Cereal Grains. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Some pest control products registered on wheat may also be applied to this crop.  Refer to OMAFRA Publication 812 – Field Crop Protection Guide for products registered on conventional wheat.   Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile


  1. Lee, C. (2004).  Spelt.  University of Kentucky-College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service.
  2. OMAFRA. (2009). Agronomy Guide for Field Crops: Publication 811. Toronto: OMAFRA
  3. Oplinger, E.S., E.A. Oelke, A.R. Kaminski, K.A. Kelling, J.D. Doll, B.R. Doll, B.R. Durgan and R.T> Schuler. 1990. Spelt.  In: Alternative Field Crops Manual.  University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension and University of Minnesota Extension Service.