World Grain - October 2020 - 50

FEATURE: NEW ERA IN WHEAT QUALITY?

baking partner, along with the segregation of the preferred varieties have the potential to be a game changer
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GLUHFWRU:KHDW4XDOLW\&RXQFLO/HQH[D.DQVDV86
"The industry has always known we need to get the
farmer involved in planting high quality varieties for the industry," he said. "Until now
there has not been a mechanism to
reward farmers for growing speFL¿FYDULHWLHV6RWKHVHW\SHVRI
SURJUDPVDUHDPDMRU¿UVWVWHS
in trying to get better varieties
planted by the farmer. I think
it is a big deal."
20 YEARS IN THE MAKING
For Grain Craft, the successful test in Kansas marks the
FXOPLQDWLRQRIDQH൵RUWGDWLQJ
back almost 20 years, said Alan
.RHQLJFKLHIVXSSO\FKDLQR൶FHU
The program was launched not
in the hard winter states, but in the
Intermountain region. Grain Craft started the
Koenig preferred variety program at its Blackfoot, Idaho, US,
PLOO LQ WKH HDUO\ V ,Q WKH PLGV WKH FRPSDQ\EHJDQH[SORULQJZD\VWRH[SDQGWKHSURJUDPLQ
.DQVDV KRSLQJ WR PDNH ÀRXU PLOOHG IURP SUHIHUUHG
varieties available to more baking customers.
7KH,GDKRSURMHFWZDVNLFNHGR൵LQE\5HXEHQ
McLean, senior director of quality and regulatory for the company, based in Idaho.
McLean, who has a background in
wheat breeding, began working at
the Blackfoot mill (owned then
by Pendleton Flour Mills) that
year and became frustrated
that very little high-quality
hard wheat was grown in
the Blackfoot draw area.
While Idaho produces about
PLOOLRQEXVKHOVRIZKHDW
per year, soft white wheat accounts for the majority of the
state's production.
"We were importing most of
the wheat for Blackfoot from Kansas,
Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, wherever
McLean we could get quality," McLean said.
McLean began working with public and private
wheat breeders to communicate the need for top quality hard red winter and hard red spring wheat. A preferred variety list was developed with the quality attributes that Grain Craft sought.
50

"And that's what got planted and produced for our
mill in Blackfoot," McLean said.
By 2003, Grain Craft was able to buy a large perFHQWDJHRILWVJULQGORFDOO\D¿JXUHWKDWUHDFKHG
by 2005.
"It was a win-win for everybody," Koenig said.
"It's a win for us since we are now able to originate
RIRXUJUDLQZLWKLQDPLOHUDGLXVDQGDZLQ
for the farmer because he now has another crop he
can grow. Wheat is a great rotation crop for the potatoes in Idaho, and it was good for the breeders and
the seed salesmen out there. Now they have another
income source."
Idaho's wheat growing environment is atypical in
that it depends nearly completely on irrigation. Many
SDUWVRIWKHVWDWHJHQHUDWHZKHDW\LHOGVDERYHEXVKels per acre, double the national average. Because it
relies on irrigation, quality tends to be very consistent.
On-farm storage is plentiful, making identity preservation practical.
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VDLGDQGWKHSURJUDP¶VVXFFHVVFUHDWHGDGL൵HUHQWNLQG
of problem for Grain Craft.
³:HZHUHDQGVWLOODUHVKLSSLQJÀRXUWRSODFHVWKDW
can be logistically challenging," he said. "The quality
RIWKHZKHDWSURGXFHVÀRXUZLWKGHVLUDEOHEDNLQJFKDUacteristics, and we ship it to California, the East Coast,
areas across the entire US."
EXPANDING THE PROGRAM
:LWKWKHFUHDWLRQRI*UDLQ&UDIWLQWKHGHFLVLRQ
was made to launch a preferred variety program in
Kansas. Simply replicating the Idaho model was not a
possibility, McLean said.
"Hard red winter wheat production in Kansas and
many other Southern Plains states has been a big eye
opener for me," he said. "For these growers, varietal
selection has been all about yield. The term 'baking
quality' seemed to be somewhat of a new concept."
Meanwhile, unlike Idaho, agronomic factors play a
large part in quality outcomes. In certain years, weather
conditions allow nearly all varieties to generate good to
H[FHOOHQWEDNLQJTXDOLW\
Even when growers plant wheat varieties with
good milling and baking quality, keeping the wheat
segregated in the hard winter states is a major chalOHQJH D FKDOOHQJH PDGH PRUH GL൶FXOW LQ UHFHQW
\HDUVE\UDLOIUHLJKWUDWHVWKDWVHHNWRPD[LPL]HKRZ
PXFKZKHDWLVORDGHGDQGVKLSSHGLQFDUWUDLQV
rather than in 5- or 20-car units. The rate changes
KDYHPDGHLWPRUHGL൶FXOWIRUPLOOHUVWRVFRXWDQG
select and gather wheat with optimal quality. As a
UHVXOW ÀRXU PLOOHG IURP KDUG UHG ZLQWHU DQG DYDLOable to bakers tends to represent "an average of the
October 2020 / World Grain / www.World-Grain.com


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World Grain - October 2020

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