Hooray for the Red, White & Blue

Hooray for the Red, White & Blue

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bread of Life: Kansas Wheat Innovation Center

An 8-foot-long "ribbon" of braided bread was the centerpiece for the dedication for the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center in Manhattan last Friday.

Basic bread is a pretty straightforward recipe: You combine flour, water, yeast and a few other ingredients.  When flour is mixed with water, the gluten swells to form a continuous network of fine strands. This network forms the structure of bread dough and makes it elastic and pliable.

Last Friday, the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center celebrated a new network and structure as it officially opened a new $10.3 million building. Just like gluten coming together in a series of fine strands, Kansas wheat farmers came together to invest in their future. The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center building has at its center the collaboration of Kansas wheat farmers - those strands of cooperation coming from each corner of the state. Through a voluntary penny-and-a-half Kansas wheat checkoff,  the Center was built to begin a new era for wheat variety research. It represents the single largest investment by wheat farmers in the nation. The Center was built on land owned by Kansas State University, but the Kansas Wheat Commission has a 50-year lease on the property.
The loaf of bread used on Friday was braided together. It was baked in one continuous piece in a large oven at the American Institute of Baking, also in Manhattan. Just like that braid strengthened the structure of the completed loaf, other collaborators have joined Kansas farmers in this endeavor to improve wheat and find new ways to feed a hungry world. On Friday, naming rights donors were recognized. The donors were many and varied: They included banks, insurance companies, a railroad, seed companies, agriculture cooperatives, media outlets, ag families and others.

In his remarks, Kansas Wheat Commissioner Ron Suppes, Dighton, held up a grain of wheat. If you were more than two rows back, you couldn't see the kernel. But, in some ways, that's the point. This little, bitty seed is pretty powerful. From a tiny little kernel, a wheat plant grows. With the right combination of soil, water, sunlight, temperature and time, the one kernel produces a plant with a lot of kernels.
When those kernels are harvested, they can help feed the world. That's a lot of power for one little seed.

And the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center represents a lot of power for the Kansas wheat industry, too.
“We are excited to share the story of how the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center will lead the way in new wheat research that gives Kansas wheat farmers the tools to produce high-yielding, high-quality wheat varieties that will continue to feed the world. The world population is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. The KWIC will play a big role in helping U.S. wheat farmers meet the population’s growing demand for food.”
Rich Randall
chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission and farmer near Scott City
Tomorrow, more photos and more on the work that will be done at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center. 

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