Experimental plots of wheat are examined for dryness the morning before harvest by John Kuehner at Spillman Farm, Washington State University. Spillman Farm was established in 1955 by Orville Vogel to evaluate new varieties of wheat, barley, and legumes. It has one of the largest wheat breeding programs in the USA. In this view, Kuehner is examining varieties that have been cross-bred (not GMO) to find varieties that are resistant to pests, fungus, and drought/heat but also have superior yield and milling/baking qualities. WSU's seed is licensed to seed producers/growers, and since 2012, WSU seed that is harvested cannot be replanted by end-users.
The Palouse has the most productive wheat-growing conditions in the USA, with non-irrigated harvests averaging over 70 bushels/acre in the area between Pullman WA and Moscow ID. The dry mild climate with warm days and cool nights combine well with rich loess soil, and good drainage to form the ideal wheat-growing conditions. The wheat is planted perpendicular to slope on steep inclines, up to 45° slopes, with specially-rigged combines to harvest at an angle, with some combines having outriggers to keep their 30ft. wide cutting heads from tipping over. 80-90% of Palouse soft white wheat is exported, primarily to Asia, where buyers will pay a premium for its use in noodles, sponge cakes, and other light foods. The US and Canada are the biggest wheat exporters in the world.
- ©2016 George Steinmetz
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