Wheat Quality


This is a specialty wheat grown primarily in the Northern Plains of the United States—stands out as the aristocrat of wheat when it comes to baking bread. The high protein content and superior gluten quality of hard red spring wheat make it ideal for use in some of the world’s finest baked goods. Yeast breads, hard rolls and specialty products such as hearth breads, whole grain breads, bagels and pizza crusts look and taste their best when baked with top quality spring wheat flour. Even frozen dough products are better with spring wheat because they can be stored longer than those made with lower protein wheats. Flour mills in the United States and around the world also use hard red spring wheat extensively as a blending wheat to increase the gluten strength in a batch of flour. Adding hard red spring to lower protein wheat improves dough handling and mixing characteristics as well as water absorption. The resulting flour can be used to make an assortment of bread products, as well as Chinese-type noodles.


The overall average of the 2008 U.S. hard red spring wheat crop is a No. 1 Northern Spring. Production is up 13 percent compared to 2007. Three-fourths of the crop is a No. 1 grade as the crop boasts little to no damage and a high average test weight on a region wide basis. However, there is a wider distribution of some quality parameters in the crop this year and a lower vitreous kernel level, due to extremes in growing conditions and yields across the region. Disease pressures were nearly non-existent as reflected in the mere 0.1 percent average damage level. The average test weight is 61 lb/bu (80.2 kg/hl) equal to last year and the five-year average, but about 10 percent of the crop falls below 57 lb/bu (75.1 kg/hl) due to severe drought conditions in some western areas. Across all production districts, the crop displays heavier 1000 KWT’s and lower kernel ash levels, most notably in western areas.

Average protein is equal to last year and the five-year average at 14.3 percent despite a wider than normal spread in protein levels across the region. The distribution of protein in eastern areas shows a higher percentage of the crop below 13.5 percent protein compared to last year, while western areas show less of a comparative shift. Although protein spreads are wider in 2008, more than half of the crop is still between 13 and 15 protein, higher than last year.


Subclass is a separate marketing factor based on the number of kernels with a complete, hard and vitreous endosperm, the portion that makes flour. For hard red spring wheat the subclasses are:

  • Dark Northern Spring (DNS)—at least 75 percent or more dark, hard, vitreous kernels;
  • Northern Spring (NS)—between 25 and 74 percent dark, hard, vitreous kernels;
  • Red Spring (RS)—less than 25 percent dark, hard, vitreous kernels.

Wheat Quality Projects

  • Crop Survey
  • Cargo Samples
  • NDSU Hard Spring Wheat Variety Development Program

Impact of Pre-harvest Desiccants on Wheat Quality

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world. It is a non-selective, broad spectrum, post-emergence herbicide, therefore controls a wide range of different species. Although glyphosate is effective in weed control, side effects of this herbicide on the crop itself, micro and macro organisms and plant diseases have been reported. As such, in the context of public health and environmental issues, use of glyphosate has been a compelling issue during the last few years.

In a study conducted to determine the effect of pre-harvest application of glyphosate of grain quality, it was found that glyphosate at a level of 1.0 kg/ha decreased the germinations energy and the length and weight of primary roots, and when applied at 2 kg/ ha, glyphosate decreased the thousand kernel weight. The study also found that wheat desiccation using this herbicide limits the emergence and weight of seedlings. Moreover, glyphosate drifts to non-target crops, resulting in growth aberrations and reductions in yield.  In addition to yield loss, glyphosate also causes many negative side effects. Glyphosate was found to decrease the fresh weight of seedlings in this study and inhibit the production of basal buds at the optimum temperature. In this context, the aim of this study is to determine the effect of glyphosate on hard red spring wheat cultivars grown in North Dakota. Effects on end-use quality, starch, protein and arabinoxylan chemistry would be studied.

Fusarium Head Blight and Metabolomics

Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) also named “scab” has been a persistent problem in small grains for many years with worldwide outbreaks. In North America, notorious epidemics during the 1990s have made devastating economical effects. Although the pathology of the disease is not completely understood at the molecular level, recent advancement in technology has brought up the study of the metabolome that covers the network of biochemical interactions, including those of host-pathogen nature. In this work, three North Dakota released wheat varieties and two Near Isogenic lines were infected with Fusarium graminearum. Infected florets were collected cryogenically in a time course fashion making composite samples. The tissue will be analyzed using an LC QTOF/MS to sort and identify the compounds in wheat responsible for scab resistance. Further analysis of the data will cover the metabolite interactions of the inflection process resulting in information that has not been reported before. Additional benefits could be the use of unique metabolites as biomarkers for scab screening in breeding.

Vacuum Steam Pasteurization and Wheat Quality

Vacuum steam pasteurization has shown promise on a research scale for the inactivation of E. coli and S. enterica on low moisture foods including grain (Shah et al. 2017). This control measure utilizes increased pressure in combination with moderate temperatures (as compared to other pasteurization methods) to inactivate pathogenic bacteria. Temperatures used for this control measure range from 60 to over 100 °C.

The main steps in this process include pre-heating (to facilitate homogenous treatment during pasteurization), pasteurization, and cooling (if needed) (Shah et al. 2017). The pasteurization process itself is divided into four steps: initial application of the vacuum to build pressure, pre-vacuum, pasteurization, and post vacuum. All steps in the process can be adjusted to suit the matrix of the material being pasteurized. One complete cycle of pasteurization typically takes between 20 and 25 minutes.

This method has proven effective at reducing the E. coli O157:H7 and S. enterica Enteritidis PT 30 loads on quinoa, flaxseed, and sunflower kernels (Shah et al. 2017). When pasteurized at 75 °C for one minute, 5.40 to 5.89 log reductions of E. coli O157:H7 were achieved for these crops. At these same processing conditions, 4.01 to 5.48 log reductions of S. enterica Enteritidis PT 30 were attained for these crops. Due to the proven effectiveness of vacuum steam pasteurization for the inactivation of E. coli O157:H7 and S. enterica Enteritidis PT 30 on other low moisture crops, it may prove effective for the inactivation of these bacterial pathogens on wheat.

Wheat Quality Testing

Wheat and Flour Analysis

Kernel Analysis

  • 1000 Kernel Weight
  • Dockage
  • Falling Number
  • Moisture
  • Protein
  • Kernel Sizing
  • Single Kernel Characterization
  • Test Weight per Bushel
  • Mycotoxin Analysis
  • Kernel Vitreousness


  • 2 Buhler Laboratory Mills
  • 2 Quadramat Jr. Mills

Flour Analysis

  • Amylograph
  • Color
  • Free Fatty Acids
  • Moisture, Ash and Protein
  • Rapid Visco Analyzer
  • Falling Number
  • Starch Damage
  • Wet Gluten/Gluten Index
  • Zeleny Sedimentation

Dough Testing and Baking

Dough Rheology

  • Alveograph
  • Extensograph
  • Farinograph
  • Mixograph
  • Texture Analyzer


  • 25 or 100 gram pup loaves
  • AACC Method 10-09 (AACC 2000)