Aaron Harries – Kansas Wheat

(Conrad) Good morning and welcome to Farm Factor on AGam in Kansas. I’m your host Conrad Kabus. Kansas Wheat recently had a Holiday Open House at their Wheat Innovation Center in Manhattan, Kansas. Take a look. (Aaron) Today, we’re having a Holiday Open House at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center. And our goal here really is to bring together our neighbors up here in the K-State neighborhood and the Manhattan community and folks from around the state and just celebrate the successes we’ve had in 2014 in the Kansas Wheat Industry. The Wheat Innovation Center is located up here on the north campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan. And so we have several entities next door and it give us a chance to meet and exchange ideas and collaborate and so we try to do this on a more regular basis. And today’s just more of a celebration time for this time of the year. (Conrad) The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center was built by the Kansas Wheat Commission through the Kansas Wheat Checkoff to get improved wheat varieties in the hands of farmers faster. It represents the single largest research investment by Kansas wheat farmers in history. The center was built on land owned by Kansas State University. The Kansas Wheat Commission has a 50 year lease on the property. (Aaron) The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center is really buzzing and active right now. This center is a collaboration between public and private entities. So, we have Kansas State University working in here along side some other food companies and we’re really advancing wheat research and genetics. Right now the greenhouses that we have here at the Innovation Center are full, doing research projects, making double haploids which helps advance the wheat breeding variety development time. And we’re really excited that coming this Spring, in 2015 we’ll start construction on some additional greenhouse expansion here at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center to provide more space for not only the researchers here, but some at Kansas State University. So, we’re just going to ramp up wheat research that much more next year. (Conrad) Construction on the $11 million dollar Kansas Wheat Innovation Center began in October of 2011. And the facility was completed in November of 2012. (Aaron) Well, here in the Wheat Innovation Center, we have a molecular biology laboratory. We have an advanced wheat breeding laboratory. We have a wheat genetics laboratory. And not only laboratory space, but we have 13 indoor growth rooms here. Our scientists can grow wheat all year around. A lot of our capacity is focused on that double haploid work. It’s a process of about a year to make a double haploid plant. And basically what happens is a customer, a wheat breeder sends us a packet of seeds, eleven months later we send them back a packet of seeds and they’ve jumped five or six years ahead in the wheat variety development process. So, that cuts that time in half, and that’s a big focus here. What that allows us to do is get new wheat genetics out to farmers a lot faster. (Conrad) The center also includes 1,500 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratory space where Heartland Plant Innovation conducts research dedicated to new genetics traits and technology for wheat. Kansas Wheat wants to advocate the development of new wheat varieties and improve the value of wheat to all parties in the United States supply chain, and improve it for bakers and consumers. (Aaron) Wheat genetics research focused toward the consumer angle is, a lot is focused on some food quality issues. The quality of the wheat is always something in the back of our minds. We want to have a good, quality wheat that makes a good flour for bakers but also in the baked goods that consumers buy. It’s a healthy product. We’re looking at whole grain research, making sure people understand the benefits of having whole grain wheat in their diet as part of their diet. We’re also trying to get the facts out about gluten intolerance and gluten free and making sure people understand who can eat gluten and who can not eat gluten So, we’re doing some research on that also.

(Conrad) Good morning and welcome to Farm Factor on AGam in Kansas. I’m your host Conrad Kabus. Kansas Wheat recently had a Holiday Open House at their Wheat Innovation Center in Manhattan, Kansas. Take a look. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains including barley and rye. Gluten gives its elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. Gluten is use in cosmetics, hair products, and other beauty preparation products. (Aaron) Gluten of course is the protein in wheat that gives you the ability to make a loaf of bread and gives that bread the ability to rise. So there is a problem for people who have celiac disease. Celiac disease is a problem because it causes that person to have the inability to digest that gluten. That affects about one out of every 135 people in the country. So, it’s about a one percent or less incidence of that disease. And it really does affect those folks seriously. They have to avoid all foods with gluten products in it. And that’s not only breads but gluten is used in a lot of different ingredients, for example in candies and shampoos and even some things like soup. Gluten intolerance is really somewhat of a mythical thing. The serious problem is those who have celiac disease. Those who don’t have celiac disease, should really try to keep wheat in their diet just because of the nutrition and health benefits that they get from having it in their diet. And some of the gluten free products are not very healthy for you. (Conrad) For more than 93 percent of the world, gluten is perfectly fine. Food fads are nothing new and they do run their course. Kansas Wheat is trying to combat misconceptions with the American public. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten also shows up in many whole grain foods related to wheat. (Aaron) Well gluten free is certainly just another diet trend and we’ve seen diet trends throughout history and the centuries. And unfortunately wheat has been the target of some of those diet fads in a negative way, whether it’s you know, just a gluten free diet. And a lot of that, unfortunately is based on bad science. And so we’re just trying to combat that with the fact and over time we think that message gets out. And this, just like any other fad, will pass by. But there has been a lot of capitalization and the numbers have increased on a gluten free diet. Really it hasn’t affected our wheat flour consumption numbers that much here in the United States. So, we think with the right information people will start to understand that it’s really not bad for you. And we’ll try to reverse that trend. (Conrad) Kansas Wheat also has a great relationship with the surrounding area, like Kansas State University. Many of the researchers are from Kansas State and are in collaboration with the organization. The partnership helps students, consumers, and researchers that helps production with the producer. (Aaron) Yea, so we have a great relationship with Kansas State University, between the University and Kansas wheat farmers through the Kansas Wheat Commission and Association of Wheat Growers. Kansas wheat farmers through the checkoff fund over a million dollars of research every year with Kansas State University and the College of Agriculture and different departments. The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center is on the University campus. We lease the land from Kansas State University. We work very closely with the university in the sense that research work here in the Innovation Center and use some of our research facility. So, it’s been a long standing relationship with Kansas State and Kansas wheat farmers in terms of research and I don’t see that changing any time.

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