For millennia, bread baking has been more craft than science. Even the current trend in artisan bread rejects much of what modern science has wrought: the advances of manufactured yeast, dough conditioners, added preservatives and the overall industrialization of wheat and bread production.
“The bread zeitgeist is about being ancient, primitive, natural, and pretty much anything but modern,” writes Nathan Myhrvold in his recent 2,642-page … » More …
Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Diseases of Wheat
By R. James Cook
American Phytopathological Society Press: 2017
Throughout the compelling stories and personal experiences shared by Jim Cook, a retired research plant pathologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and emeritus professor of plant pathology at Washington State University, readers can find practical crop management techniques and other beneficial information that can be used in the field and the lab. Cook also chronicles many of his insightful experiences—and imparts his philosophy, wisdom, and practical guidance.
The quirks of Pullman weather can make gardening tough. It was only a few years ago that it snowed in June. But in the greenhouses scattered around campus, researchers and students can keep growing and studying plants in adverse weather. Even visitors to campus can enjoy vegetables, holiday poinsettias, and flowers long before they’ll thrive on the Palouse.
The latest addition to the greenhouses on campus, a two-story building that resembles a glass apartment complex with glowing sodium lights, sits behind the Lewis Alumni Centre. The research facility allows scientists to raise up to three generations of wheat, barley, and other grains every year, says … » More …
Although varieties abound, wheat can be more simply considered as either hard or soft, hardness being a measure of the kernel’s resistance to crushing.
All wheat originally was soft-kerneled. And there is, so far as we know, no evolutionary advantage to either the hard or the soft trait.
But clearly, somewhere along the line, that section of genetic material that determines the hardness of the kernel underwent a random mutation. Specifically, the Puroindoline a or Puroindoline b genes, which have long been a focus of Craig Morris’s research.
In order to understand the hard/soft divide, Morris, a plant physiologist, suggests that we consider the … » More …
A while back, George DePasquale visited the ancient Italian city of Pompeii, not far from his ancestral home of Sorrento. Looking at a 2,000-year-old oven, DePasquale could easily imagine how its baker prepared and baked bread much as he does today at Seattle’s Essential Baking Company. He could feel he was part of a long, human continuum, “a river of history,” with “bazillions of people behind me, bazillions of people to come.”
But even the oldest rivers change, forming new channels, and sometimes doubling back on themselves.
Seven billion people will soon become nine billion before the global
levels off. Can so many people be fed from a finite Earth? Yes, they
can, say WSU researchers. But the solutions will necessarily be many.
Determined that, contrary to popular assumption, bread flour could indeed be grown in the Inland Northwest, a few years ago Fred Fleming ’73 and Karl Kupers ’71 started growing Terra, a new variety of hard red spring wheat developed by Washington State University wheat breeder Kim Kidwell. They named their business Columbia Plateau Producers and their flour Shepherd’s Grain.
Visualize how a small operation under the big skies of eastern Washington moves into the full-court press of deep-pocketed global business activity. Farmers talking to millers, bakers, and consumers. Convivial conversations that put loaves of bread on the table and spread the message about soil health … » More …