Many say Hard White Wheat is the biggest opportunity for US wheat growers in 20 years.
Hard white wheat is similar to hard red wheat. Both have hard grain endosperm for making bread, noodles and other products, but the color of the seed coat (bran) is different.
Hard white wheat is not a new crop. Farmers in China grow white wheat varieties and Australia is a major producer of white wheats, some of which make excellent Asian-style noodles as well as baked products. .
Why Consider Hard White Wheat?
Millers, bakers and consumers usually prefer hard white wheat when given a choice. This preference is particularly strong in some international markets that purchase wheat from the United States. Although markets, both foreign and domestic, are limited and price premiums are not presently established and may never be offered, this is a market with potential.
When milling wheat to a flour color standard, hard white wheat has a flour yield advantage over hard red wheats. Products baked from whole white wheat flour seem to have a more pleasing appearance when they are made from white wheat instead of red wheat. White bran is much less obvious than red bran in flour and food products. In addition, white bran does not impart the bitter taste associated with red bran. This may account for the consumer preference.
Several hard white varieties have been released in the Pacific northwest states. Both spring and winter varieties are now available.
Cereal scientists have identified that hard white wheat, or products made from these wheats, are suitable for regular and whole wheat breads and buns; American and Middle Eastern flat breads (tortillas, pitas) and Chinese steamed breads. Hard white wheat is also suitable for ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, snacks, noodles, and some types of Asian noodles, which are important foods in the Far East.
Use in the domestic market continues to grow as consumers increase demand for more whole grain products as recommended by USDA.
IWC is trying to capture more of this rapidly growing market by working with growers and shippers to create pockets of critical mass so the harvested wheat can be shipped to millers in cost effective quantities. Work on developing higher yielding spring and winter varieties continues.