|Vic explaining about a variety of wheat that was being|
grown in one of the greenhouse rooms
Almost 2 weeks ago, I was able to tour both the WSU Wheat Research Lab and the Wheat Quality Lab. So come along and I'll show you ( in pictures), what I got to see and try to explain what I learned. Farmers in this area are extremely fortunate in that we have not one, but two land grant universities six miles apart from each other, with the Washington State University in Pullman, WA and the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID and both have Ag research facilities. This is good for us as you will see.
The wheat greenhouse lab is a secure facility and entry was gained via card entry. My guides were Vic DeMacon, Senior Scientific Assistant and Gail Jacobson, Wheat Analyst (and also my neighbor). The greenhouse facility was a vast area with many greenhouse rooms to accommodate various research mainly for wheat.
A wheat plant is grown in flats
|Vic among the wheat - check out the huge lights that simulate the sun.|
The greenhouse lighting and heating are very expensive costs for the college
Vic explained that they can simulate winter temperatures for the winter wheat plants. (Quick refresher- winter wheat is planted in the fall and the plant makeup needs the cold winter weather as part of its growing process, if it doesn't go into a sort of hibernation during winter, the plant will not make a wheat head when growing season comes around).
|This cold unit simulates winter season for the wheat plants|
|These are the plants inside the vernalization growth room|
Next I went onto tour the Wheat Quality Lab where wheat is measured and gaged by protein content and quality. This is important as it makes a big difference in baking properties and quality for cakes, breads, noodles, crackers, etc. I saw many scientific machines that weighed and measured protein in the wheat breeds. Then after all the testing of the kernels were done, it was made into flour and the final baking test was done in the WSU test kitchen. Although no baking was being done at the time I was touring, you could imagine the great smells that would come out of this room.
|The charts for different types of wheat grown|
|The results on the baked goods with different wheat|
|The cookie on the left is the optimum result and the wheat properties|
and varieties make all the difference in the results
|WSU has a "baking lab kitchen" in the research facility to test the varieties and|
how they will perform when used in cookies or breads
|Gail showing me some bread samples|
|The poster says it all, the gluten protein quality makes all the difference|
As always, hope you enjoyed the tour and if you have questions, please email me at email@example.com. We are gearing up for Spring work and I'll be documenting what we are doing - right now we are waiting on the weather to give the green light! =)