Small Grains Field Trials

Artisan bakers, specialty cooks and brewers are increasingly looking to source local grains for their products.

Small Grains Field Trials

Small Grains Field Trials

The Farm Hub’s Small Grains project is designed to provide Hudson Valley farmers with the information they need to meet an emerging market for locally-grown grains in the food and beverage industry.

Two hundred years ago, a robust economy existed in the Hudson Valley for the growing and processing of grains. In the area around Hurley, for example, large quantities of flour were transported along the Kings Road (now Route 209) to the Hudson River and shipped to New York City markets and beyond. That economy all but disappeared by the end of the 19th century, and with it, the collective knowledge behind successful growing and handling of grains.

Today, with the explosion of interest in high quality local food, artisan bakers, culinary specialists, and brewers are increasingly looking to source local grains to use in their products. As a result, grain growing is being re-discovered by contemporary farmers and agricultural specialists. Variety selection, grains breeding, seed sourcing, resilient growing methods, post-harvest handling and quality testing are all being examined in a joint research project hosted at the Farm Hub in conjunction with Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County.

Spring and Winter Varieties: In the spring of 2014, small plots of multiple varieties of spring wheat and barley were planted for harvest that August. Based upon yield and quality results, researchers selected a spring barley and a spring wheat variety to be grown on a larger scale in 2015. The barley variety selected was  ‘AAC Synergy,’ a 2-row malting variety from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The wheat variety selected was ‘Tom,’ a hard red spring variety from the University of Minnesota

In Fall 2014, several varieties of winter wheat, barley and rye were planted in small test plots. Many of these varieties had long been grown in western New York and Michigan’s Saginaw Valley, so they have names such as Erie, Otsego, and Caledonia, referring to places in Michigan and New York.  Each variety is being examined under both organic and conventional farm practices. These winter varieties were harvested in July 2015.

In Fall 2015, larger grow outs of rye, malting barley, and wheat were planted. Each variety was planted in two 1.5 acre plots, with one plot to be managed using organic methods and the other using conventional methods.  The varieties planted included the hybrid rye ‘Brasetto’ and the malting barley ‘KWS Scala.’ The wheat plots were divided into smaller segments to include the soft winter wheat varieties ‘Medina,’ and ‘Pride of Genesee,’ and the hard wheat varieties ‘Warthog,’ and ‘NuEast.’

Over the course of the five-year project, additional spring and winter grains will be tested and best new varieties grown in larger quantities at the Farm Hub and on other host farms. These scale-up trails will provide enough grain for use in processing trials with area millers, bakers, brewers and distillers.

Sharing results:  Sharing production methods and variety results with farmers is an important part of the project. The third annual Hudson Valley Small Grains Day was held in July 2015 at the Farm Hub.  Previous events had also been held at Migliorelli farm in Tivoli, NY. As the project progresses and grains are evaluated, we will share our results through educational materials as well as more field days for farmers and local processors.

Additional Resources:


To learn more about local grains and the inspiration behind the project, see LEP’s study “Reviving Grain in the Hudson Valley”.

Catching the Amber Wave, 1: Considerations for Growers Interested in Small Grains Production by Justin O’Dea, CCE Ulster

2014 Small Grains Performance Trials for New York by Mark E. Sorrells, Cornell University

2015 Hudson Valley Winter Wheat, Malting Barley and Hybrid Rye Summaries by Mark E. Sorrells, Cornell University


Visit the Small Grains Trials photo album.

2015 Videos: