Salish Blue Perennial “Wheat” Seeds (xTritipyrum aaseae)
Developed at Washington State University, this novel grain is a remarkable example of thoughtful, classical cross-breeding as well as wrangling with scientific nomenclature to arrive at name for something that previously never existed.
Like the recently hyped Kernza, this is a perennial wheat-like grain, but one developed and adapted to the cool-season climate of the Pacific Northwest. It should be fall-planted (although we’ve had some success with mid-winter and early spring sowing as well). Maturing plants form loose-clumps, and slender foliage that (for us) reaches about 4-feet in height. The tough seed heads are moderately easy to thresh with simple tools (we’ve used a leaf mulcher with success), but they can also be hand-threshed if your up for a bit more of a challenge.
Our small plot is going on several years of maturity, and the plants definitely loose a little vigor for us without a bit of intervention. We’ve heard similar reports from Kernza growers, some of whom we’ve heard of chisel-plowing their plots, or grazing them to stimulate new growth and more vigorous seed production. True to the common name, Salish Blue produces blue-ish/purple-ish grain, and makes great pancakes, although we’ve also heard of beer brewers experimenting with it.
Conceptually the idea of breeding fertile, stable crosses of annual grains with perennial wild relatives goes all the way back to the early 20th Century, with early experiments gaining traction in the USSR. The technical challenges of this work have been enormous, especially given the head-spinning complex genetics of wheat and wheat relatives. It’s an amazing achievement to now see successful examples of this great effort.
We’ve neglected our Salish Blue patch since first planting it in the garden where it now co-mingles with overgrown fennel and a production bed of camas bulbs that we forgot about. The whole thing has blended itself together into an edible thicket – the inspiration for our Forager’s Meadow seed mix. We scarcely remember to water it, and yet it grows on, not at all weedy, generously producing fine grain with little sign of pest or disease. It’s the kind of food plant that we all should be growing more of.
12-ounces (Approximately 8,000-10,000 seeds)