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Quality lab studies the past, present and future HRS quality

Break Date: 6/24/2009 9:38:58 AM
Last Edit: 6/24/2009 9:38:58 AM


HRS Quality lab staff
The hard red spring wheat quality lab at NDSU, under the direction of Dr. Senay Simsek, conducts wheat research and performs quality analyses some of us may not understand, but the program is necessary to produce the information and results customers want and the gains in variety development producers need. Just a few of the major projects the lab conducts each year include the Crop Quality Survey, variety development screening and customer service. When considering all that the wheat quality lab does, you could say it is the past, present and future of HRS quality.

Customer service could be considered the "past" research of HRS quality. If a buyer has an issue with how our wheat performed for their final product, they can turn to the lab for feedback and problem solving to get the issue taken care of. Perhaps a certain variety was the culprit or growing conditions that year affected quality or perhaps baking or mixing methods need to be adjusted to meet optimum quality. Whatever the case may be, Dr. Simsek and her team work to solve the issue and leave the customer satisfied that our wheat is really the high quality, excellent performing wheat they expect it to be. If a customer was dissatisfied with how our wheat performed and had no one to help solve the issue, they might shy away from buying it next time. It is so important to solve the issues as they come up rather than ignore the problem and risk losing future sales and market share.

The annual Crop Quality Survey is the "present" of wheat quality research. Each year the lab receives hundreds of samples from MT, ND, SD and MN to be analyzed for quality parameters. This information is compiled and is the most important marketing tool the NDWC and U.S. Wheat Associates uses to promote our state's crop. This report informs end-users about what to expect from the crop so they can make the most informed purchasing decisions. Customers often want quality information for the current year's crop before harvest has even started, that is why it is especially important for Dr. Simsek to meet with visiting trade teams to relay this information to them and explain how this year's quality will best fit their needs. These efforts help producers sell their crop by offering timely and accurate information on our HRS.

The "future" of HRS quality is the new varieties that will be released to producers in years to come. The lab works closely with NDSU HRS breeder Dr. Mohamed Mergoum to ensure that varieties being developed meet the quality standards that our customers have come to expect. As Dr. Simsek puts it, "nationally and internationally, HRS wheat has a reputation for being one of the premium quality wheat classes, often fetching a higher value for our producers than other wheat classes. Our program ensures that new releases will maintain its high quality profile." The lab analyzes thousands of HRS lines every year, and only one or two are released. Analyzing these samples is no small feat, during busy months the lab is running 24 hours a day to make sure the quality analysis is done in a timely manner. Dr. Simsek also takes feedback from trade teams and HRS end-users about the quality and relays this to breeders so they can try to incorporate desired traits in their experimental lines.

Dr. Simsek is passionate about her work and is focusing on new research investigating the application of HRS wheat for refrigerated dough and tortillas. Increasing the number of food products that utilize HRS boosts demand for the wheat ND producers grow. Cereal science may not make sense to everyone or be interesting, but Dr. Simsek puts it in good words when she describes what interested her in this career, "it is a nice feeling when you're shopping and you see some of the products you work with on the shelves. Cereal science is science you can eat! Believe me, it does not happen in many research areas."

The HRS Wheat Quality Lab web site is www.wheatquality.com.