University of Wisconsin Center for Wisconsin
Rural Cooperatives, July/August 1999, p. 10.
Published by the Rural Business and Cooperative Development Service 

Kansas wheat goes white: Betty is ready to produce better bread, noodles, and tortillas

By Doug Ohlemeier

Marketing Specialist
Kansas Wheat Commission

Two Kansas hard white wheats have excellent baking characteristics for pan breads and rolls, according to a research update by Kansas State University (KSU). The project, funded by wheat producers through the Kansas Wheat Commission, examines hard white wheats—Betty and Heyne—for quality breads, Asian noodles and tortillas.

A KSU-bred variety being considered for release in 2000, KS96HW115, also shows promise for Asian noodle production. KS96HW115 represents a new generation of Kansas hard white wheats in that it produces bright, white Asian salt noodles, and bright, pale, yellow alkaline noodles. None of the current Kansas hard white or hard red wheat varieties produce low-browning doughs. To Asian consumers, noodles must not turn brown or dark.

Asian noodles are broadly classified as salt (Japanese-style) and alkaline (Chinese-style). Salt noodles are made with soft wheat flour and appear bright white. Alkaline noodles are made with hard wheat flour and appear bright yellow. White wheat must produce doughs that remain bright white or bright yellow after aging.

Noodles account for a third of Asian wheat consumption, similar to the entire Kansas crop.

"The cooked texture of the alkaline noodles from KS96HW115 was similar to a commercial Japanese alkaline noodle flour. Moreover, the Wheat Quality Council ranked its bread-baking quality as high. KS96HW115 is a multi-purpose wheat suitable for several sizable markets including bread, Asian noodles and tortillas," said Paul Seib, KSU grain science industry professor.

Betty and Heyne are not only as good as their red counter-parts in standard dough-mixing texts, but they produced bread with greater loaf volumes and a whiter crumb color. "It is critical that any white wheats developed for international markets and for specialty products also be superior in terms of their breadmaking quality," notes researcher Finlay MacRitchie.

"This data confirms that the new hard whites are excellent wheats for use in the bread-making industry. For wheat producers, this is reassuring news as Kansas moves toward increased production of hard white wheat. It means the new white wheats can be used to produce almost any bread or roll product on the market today, as well as compete in international and specialty markets," says MacRitchie.

Tortillas and flat breads are niche markets for Kansas hard white wheats and currently the fastest growing U.S. production. Betty and Heyne, milled to an 80 percent extraction rate, produced high-quality tortillas comparable to tortillas produced from 72 percent extraction red wheats.

Bran color is critical because hard white wheat bran in tortilla flour improves a number of the textural properties of a tortilla. Due to the absence of tannins, white wheat bran can impart a sweeter taste. White bran from these two varieties appears to improve a tortilla's textural properties of strength, tearing and the ability to be rolled without cracking. Tortillas produced from Betty and Heyne also better retained moisture during storage and maintained their textural properties for a longer period of time.

The study indicates the new white wheats can be milled to very high extraction rates to produce superior quality wheat food products, resulting in added value for producers and processors.

For a complete report on the producer-funded KWC research project, go to or call 1-785-5390255.

Meanwhile, Kansas-based marketing and farm supply cooperative Farmland Industries and AGvantage IP Inc., a Kansas cooperative of seed growers, announced this past spring that Farmland would offer production contracts and guaranteed minimum premiums of 10 cents a bushel for farmers to switch from the traditional red wheat to the newly released Betty and Heyne varieties of white wheat. Between 20,000 and 50,000 acres of white wheat are anticipated.

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