Our Heritage Anew
Winter wheat is the traditional crop raised on the High Plains of Colorado. The first variety that was brought to this area is called Turkish Red, it is still raised in very small amounts here and there. Hard red winter wheat has been grown in the area as long as there has been farming in the area and it has all be descended from the Turkish Red. In the last thirty years there has been a new strain introduced, descendants of a distant cousin you may say, the origin of the strain does not have the tannins in the bran. The tannins is what makes red wheat red, so the new type of wheat is lighter in color and because tannins are bitter the new wheat is sweeter. If you have purchased the whole wheat bread that is white you have already been introduced to hard white wheat. It is a natural mutation that had been around for many years but was never bred selectively for it. This is a non-GMO plant, it just hasn't had the chance to be developed and introduced to the public.
We have been raising white wheat for a number of years and this last year we raised less than forty acres of red wheat while trying new varieties of white wheat. The photo to the right is from the combine cab this harvest. The blue part in the photo is the header on the combine, this is a new development to the farm as well. It is a stripper header, it has a fast spinning drum in it covered with rows of stainless steel fingers that strip the wheat berries out of the wheat head instead of cutting the plant off below the wheat head. This leaves much longer residue in the field which shades the ground keeping it cooler and reducing the weed growth. This allows us to use less herbicide while reducing erosion from wind and driving rain.
This new method of harvesting is very important to our dedication to producing our crop in a sustainable method. The shading that this taller stubble provides keeps the soil cooler during the summer and warmer in the winter. This is vital not only to preserve moisture but also to protect the soil microbes that are vital to the soil health. We are now testing our soils for not only the standard nutrients needed for healthy productive plants but also for the number and diversity of the microbes that interact with the plant. This testing is a recent development in farming but we see how vital the soil health is not only for the productivity of the farm but the health of the environment that we rely on.
The wheat in this truck was the last little dab of the last wheat field we harvested this year. We reserved some from this truckload for our own use and to provide some for our customers. We have found the best biscuits are made with whole white wheat flour. They are naturally sweeter with a nutty flavor that whole wheat flour had. It is higher protein wheat and that means it makes a stronger dough. The protein is gluten, during mixing the gluten strands link together and allows the wheat to retain gases that make the baked goods rise.
Ride along on wheat harvest