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In-Field Experience Provides Educational Opportunities for Customers

By: Amanda Brusseau, NDWC Communication Consultant
Posted: Sep 13 2023

There are many individuals working the wheat industry - grain trade, flour mills, bakeries, USDA, councils and commissions, universities and breeding companies – that have never stepped foot in a wheat field.  Their opportunities to do so are mostly limited by their work location and lack of opportunities.  One event that does bring the industry to the wheat fields is the Annual Hard Spring Wheat Tour hosted by the Wheat Quality Council.  The tour takes 16 vehicles on 8 different routes across the state.  They asses yield potential, look for disease and pest issues, and make observations in comparisons to previous years. 

Reuben McLean is the Senior Director of Quality and Regulatory at Grain Craft, the 3rd largest and the largest independently owned milling company in the US. McLean was on the 2023 tour and explained why events like this were needed. He notes that the Midwest and North Dakota are important assets to the company because most of their hard red spring wheat is sourced in the state. He also provided perspective on wheat quality, “For baking customers, the largest change they see typically in the flour that we deliver to them happens once a year at harvest. So, any information we can obtain as millers about what the upcoming crop is going to look like can help us prepare and communicate that to our bakery customers.” While quantity is important to the farmer, quality needs to also take a front seat because that is what many buyers of wheat and durum products look for. The best way to achieve both is to constantly gather information for all steps from seed genetics to harvest and beyond to better the crops, practices, and markets each year.  

Mory Rugg is the Senior Wheat Breeder for The Arthur Companies and attended this year’s tour. He said that the importance of this tour lies in educating the industry people visiting the state. “For many of the participants, it is their first time visiting our state, and many do not have a lot of experience in the field, so it is an opportunity to demonstrate the challenges in growing a wheat crop and agriculture as a whole. Some of the attendees have never been to a grain elevator, and many of these individuals work directly with purchasing wheat/flour for their products or work in Washington D.C., so it is important to show them how grain is handled. Many of the individuals I have encountered are amazed to learn how diverse North Dakota agriculture is, such as honey production or looking at a blooming flax or canola field. So, while the tour is focused on wheat, it is also an opportunity to showcase North Dakota.” North Dakota wheat plays a huge part in global food production and it is important that all areas of the market are exposed to the quality wheat growing in the region.  

With the diversified crowd, they were all able to take pertinent information for their industry back with them and that information will be used to further progress agriculture and its operations. The education from this tour also assisted in better understanding the role that North Dakota and quality wheat play in the markets.  Overall, the Peace Garden State continues to produce quality hard spring wheat and durum that competes domestically and globally and provides education to the agriculture industry. That is certainly something to be proud of!  

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