A University of Nebraska wheat breeder, P. Stephen Baenziger, is part of a wheat quality improvement team that recently departed for Latin America to gather information about the wheat quality needs and concerns of customers in the area.

The team will spend March 31 through April 10 meeting with milling, baking and pasta manufacturing representatives in Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Peru.

U.S. Wheat Associates is coordinating the trade mission. Sponsorship from the Nebraska Wheat Board is making it possible for Baenziger to participate. The researcher is expected to bring back information that will be useful to the hard red and white wheat breeding, wheat quality analysis and Extension programs, at IANR. "We need to make sure that we are developing and planting varieties of hard winter wheat that customers want," points out Nebraska Wheat Board Executive Director Ron Mass.

Other members of the 2001 quality improvement team are Jochum Wiersma, Extension small grains specialist, University of Minnesota; Bill Berzonsky, North Dakota State University spring wheat breeder; Brian Sorenson, Extension wheat quality specialist, NDSU; Allan Fritz, wheat breeder, Kansas State University; Justin Gilpin, project coordinator, Kansas Wheat Commission; Brett Carver, wheat breeder, Oklahoma State University; Robert Bacon, wheat breeder, University of Arkansas; and John Oades, director of U.S. Wheat Associates office, in Portland, OR.

A similar mission visited Asia in 1999 under state wheat check-off sponsorship. Major buyers in Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan gave that team a greater appreciation for the importance of specific end use qualities in U.S. hard wheat, which they largely use for sheeted dough products and for blending with other wheats for bakery flour purposes.

Team members did hear complaints about the cleanliness, uniformity of kernel size, test weight, protein content and gluten strength within and between shipments of U.S. hard red winter wheat. Those findings have reinforced the need for minimum quality standards in public and private variety development programs to eliminate genetic variability.

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