Research About New England's Organic Wheat Crop

Uploaded by TheUniversityofMaine on 15.09.2010

Ellen Mallory Sustainable Agriculture Specialist
My name’s Ellen Mallory, and I’m an agronomist with the Cooperative Extension at the University
of Maine. I’m going to be talking to you a bit about a project I’m leading in Maine
and Vermont to help farmers produce high-quality, organic bread wheat for our region. In the
last few years, there’s been a surge of interest in locally grown food, and that includes
bread, a staple of our diet. Many consumers want to be able to buy bread made from locally
milled flour made from locally grown wheat, but unfortunately, millers and bakers in our
region haven’t been able to find enough locally grown wheat.
The increasing demand for bread wheat in our region represents a real economic opportunity
for farmers. Unfortunately, the farmers who have started to grow bread wheat have found
that there’s very little information on how to grow bread wheat in our region under
organic conditions. Right now, the demand is for organic.
In response to this lack of information, a group of researchers in the region has partnered
with farmers, millers and bakers to develop a project addressing key production and quality
issues for bread wheat. One of our major research areas is variety evaluation. We’re looking
at 25-30 varieties of each spring and winter wheat to see how well varieties grow. Do they
survive the winter? Do they have early season vigor? When do they flower and for how long?
Ultimately, we’ll also be evaluating how the varieties bake and taste, because consumers
will decide if a variety is suitable for bread wheat.
One of the unique aspects of this project is that we’re involving key players all
along the bread wheat food chain. That means farmers, millers and bakers as well as researchers.
Working together, we will contribute to the economic opportunities for Maine and Vermont
farmers and respond to the increasing demand for local foods.