Revival of our local wheat varieties A heritage from ancestors; Siyez Wheat of Kastamonu

“Siyez wheat, which is one of the most important local ancestor wheats and biodiversity of Turkey, has a limited production quantity –although it has a great potential – because it has low recognition levels in Turkey and abroad, it is not promoted, consumption is limited to a region and traditionally only bulgur form of the wheat is consumed. Many local varieties like Siyez are threatened with extinction. So it is an obligation for us to promote, increase recognition levels and register the local seeds.”


Asst. Prof. Müge HENDEK ERTOP

Kastamonu University
Faculty of Engineering and Architecture
Department of Food Engineering

Primeval wheats were the first domesticated wheats which are ancestors of the modern day wheats. Those are known as “hulled wheat” since they keep their hulls during the harvest. Primeval wheat growing had dropped significantly in the last quarter of 20th century because of change in consumer habits, nutrition and economy as well as shifting to durum and bread wheats with high efficiency and making possible to separate their hulls. Siyez wheat (Triticum monococcum L. subsp. monococcum) is one of the most common primeval wheat variety. Siyez wheat and Gernik wheat (Triticum dicoccum) had started to be cultivated 9900 to 10600 years ago and they are the first cultivated ancestors of modern day wheats. Siyez wheat first started to be grown in Karacadağ, South East of modern Turkey, and spread from the north of “Fertile Crescent” to the Balkans, Central Europe and Caucasia (Loje and others, 2003). Today it is still been growing in the north of Turkey, northern transition areas, some Balkan countries, Italy, Spain and Germany.

Siyez wheat is highly competitive thanks to having one spikelet and tight hull nature and it can be grown on poor soil with limited fertility, in arid conditions and cold climates with lower input and technology. Researcher show that Siyez wheat has high fat, protein and carotenoid content and it contains more lutein compared to bread wheat. As it is traditionally consumed in the form of whole wheat, it has low glycemic index. It is also known for being rich compared to the other wheat varieties in terms of protein, phenolics, tocopheroles and carotenoids. It has been rediscovered thanks to growing interest for natural and organic products by consumers. Ancestor wheats are also efficient for treating diseases like cholesterol, colitis and allergy and their starch is resistant to high enzymes (Strehlow and other., 1991; Abdel-Aaland others., 2002).

However, little attention has paid for nutritious and healthy features of grains and for developing them with breeding programs. Old wheat (Triticum monococcum, Triticum dicoccon) varieties are considered as organic/healthy food and promising feedstock in multiple grain products market. Clinical and epidemiologic researches showed that, whole wheat diets may have a preventive role against coronary heart diseases (Jacobs and others., 2002), type 2 diabetes, (Montonen and others., 2003), eye diseases that stem from aging, and some cancer types (Chatenoud and others., 1998; Larsson and others., 2005). Health benefits of whole grains are related with the rate of antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic acids, phytic acids, tocopherols and carotenoids they contain. (Adom and others, 2005; Moore and others, 2005; Siebenhandl and others, 2007; Zhou and others, 2007).According to researches, Siyez wheat has an average of 2.34% ash, 17% protein and 22% sedimentation rates. (Brandolini and others, 2008; Hidalgo and Brandolini, 2012).Furthermore, Siyez wheat has an average of 2.7% sugar, 6.5% starch, 3.5% fat, 1.2% dietary fiber, 1% β-glukan and it is also rich in terms of glutamic acid proline amino acids. It is also richer than bread and durum wheat in terms of Zn, Fe, Mn, Cu, Mg, Pelements, carotenoids, tocols, conjugated phenolics, alkylresorcinols, phytosterols (Hidalgo and Brandolini, 2014). Therefore, there is a potential for Siyez to be used in various products like baby food thanks to its rich nutritional content. (Hidalgo and Brandolini, 2011).

Seed size of Siyez wheat has an important role when we evaluate the quality and technologic nature of wheat. Because, wheats have bigger and heavier kernels, high endosperm, lower quantities of outer pericarp and aleurone layer. Siyez kernels contain 3.0-3.2% germ while bread wheat has 2.9-3.0%; siyez contains 22.8-23.0% bran while bread wheat has %15.0-17.0%, Siyez’s endosperm ratio is 73.0-75.0% while it is %80.0-82.0for bread wheat. High bran fraction of Siyez wheat stems from its quite small kernel structure, such that 1000 kernels weigh only 25-28 grams. On the other hand, average weight of 1000 kernels for bread wheat is 34.9 grams. So, when Siyez wheat is processed for flour, it will be not appropriate to compare it with bread or durum wheat. Its technologic output is lower.

Farmers in Kastamonu have a great contribution in bringing the Siyez wheat the present day. The largest area on which Siyez wheat grown in Turkey is still located in Kastamonu. A large part of the production is provided from the İhsangazi District. Devrekani and Seydiler towns are also growing Siyez wheat. 92% of grains of Ihsangazi are wheat and, 43% of the wheat areSiyez wheat. Some of the Siyez wheat are used as animal feed, the remaining are used to produce Siyez bulgur. Cultivation area in Ihsangazi has reached 10.000 decares in 2017. 70-80% of Siyez wheat are used as animal feed, 20-30% of them are used to produce Siyez bulgur. An average of 175 tons of Siyez bulgur are obtained from 250 tons Siyez wheat. 1050 farmers are growing Siyez wheat in the town (Ünal, 2013). Current output is very low although there is a high potential for growing and producing Siyez wheat. Ihsangazi is not suitable for cultivation of other agricultural products and drought and arid soil resistant Siyez wheat became the most important agricultural product for the town (Zengin, 2015). The town of Devrekani is the second place with a potential to grow Siyez. Devrekani is growing wheat and barley on 100.000 decares land. This area constitutes half of the total arable area of the towns. In recent years cultivation land for “Tek Siyez” variety has reached to 5000 decares. 80% of this land yields one type of Siyez which is processed to produce Siyez flour and bulgur. Remaining 20% yields the variety which is named as “Çatal Siyez” (Kaplica). This is sowed in April and used as animal feed after harvest. In Kastamonu, 700 farmers cultivated Siyez wheat in 10 towns and at an area of 15000 decares. Thanks to growing demandfor Siyez wheat, the number of agro-industries processing Siyez wheat has increased in Kastamonu. So, farmers now have greater tendency to grow “Tek Siyez” which is used to produce bulgur and flour rather than growing “Çatal Siyez” which is used as animal feed.

Siyez wheat, which is one of the most important local ancestor wheats and biodiversity of Turkey, has a limited production quantity –although it has a great potential – because it has low recognition levels in Turkey and abroad, it is not promoted, consumption is limited to a region and traditionally only bulgur form of the wheat is consumed. Many local varieties like Siyez are threatened with extinction. So it is an obligation for us to promote, increase recognition levels and register the local seeds.

Siyez wheat is not used in bakery product at an industrial scale except Besas bread factory in Bursa and Eti biscuits. Adequate supply of Siyez wheat and producing flour at a standard quality are the most challenging points. “Siyez Wheat and Local Wheat Varities of Anatolia” panel was held in Kastamonu on July 26, 2017 by Provincial Directorate of Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Kastamon University, Eti Biscuits and World Wildlife Fund. Protecting local wheat varieties, properties of Siyez wheat and production potential were among discussed topics. A common view from the panel was “to make research about properties of Siyez wheat and its potential to be included in various products, to determine nutritional nature of the wheat, to share the results with the sector and consumers in order to create demand to sustain Siyez wheat and popularize its production.”

“Slow Food Biodiversity Foundation” declared Siyez bulgur as the first Slow Food Predisia thanks to efforts of Istanbul based Slow Food Youth Movement. “Presidium” is an endemic product that needs to be protected and supported to be sustainable. Siyez bulgur, the first presidium product of Turkey, represented Turkey and made debut for world public opinion at Terra Madre-Salone Del Gusto fest in Turin, Italy. Furthermore Siyez Bulgur Producers Association obtained “Traditional Siyez Bulgur Producer Certification.” Efforts are going on to make Siyez wheat a registered product and getting geographical indications for Siyez bulgur and wheat. The association showcased Siyez wheat at natural products fair in Turin, Italy on October 2016 and Italians stated that they want to import the product. Scientific researches and registration efforts about Siyez wheat varieties are going on in Italy. Italian scientists are also following Siyez researches in Turkey.

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