Quality of Kansas Wheat Dropping


Friday, July 7th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The quality of Kansas wheat is slowly dropping, state officials report.

Less than half of this year's Kansas winter wheat crop was good enough for a No. 1 grading, the highest ranking for milling quality wheat, the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service said Thursday.

Each weekly report of sampling by the Kansas Grain Inspection Service paints an increasingly dismal picture of this year's winter wheat harvest.

Only 48 percent of the Kansas crop graded as No. 1 wheat. Another 46 percent graded as No. 2 wheat. About 6 six percent graded as No. 3 or below.

Quality worsened as inspectors followed the harvest northward.

The poorest wheat in Kansas came from the dry northwest corner of the state, where sampling shows 28 percent of the wheat grading at No. 3 or worse.

``From the consumer standpoint, the quality of the end product will be the same. It will be good for you. It is just going to take slightly more percentage of the raw product to make it,'' said Lynn Hoelting, general manager for Mueller Grain Co. in Goodland.

``I wouldn't want to send a red flag up to the consumer that we have poor quality bread on the shelf,'' he said. ``The American manufacturer has a lot of ingenuity ... the consumer is still going to have the highest quality and cheapest food.''

Experts blame the weather for this year's wheat problems.

This winter wheat crop was planted during an unusually dry fall, followed by a mild winter that brought little moisture. Disease and insects thrived in the mild winter temperatures. With spring, the parched weather continued in the state's northern counties. The unseasonable heat also brought one of the earliest harvests on record.

The continued decline in the wheat quality sampling of the Kansas winter wheat does not surprise industry observers such as Brett Myers, executive vice president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. But he said quality was still close to average.

``It is significant, but I don't know if that hurts the producers as much as it does the elevators,'' he said. ``Their job is to blend out the wheat to blend out as No. 1.''

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Researchers at Cornell University have found a single gene that once caused natural, wild tomatoes to never grow bigger than about the size of a small marble.

Jaroslaw Meller, co-author of a study appearing in the journal Science, said that a gene called fw2.2 played a key role in keeping tomatoes small, about the size of a berry, when they grew in the natural state in the Americas where they evolved.

Meller said that crossbreeding over the centuries caused domesticated tomatoes to get bigger and bigger, but scientists were never sure what gene was involved.

Now, said Meller, the researchers have found that the fw2.2 gene must either be blocked or deregulated for tomatoes to grow large.

The effect of fw2.2 was proven, said Meller, when the researchers put the gene into modern plants that usually produce large, plump tomatoes. The modified plants grew fruit that was a third smaller, he said.