THE HISTORY OF HIGH PLAINS PLATINUM WHITE WHEAT
The research for Hard White winter wheat began when three Kansas State University researchers — Elmer Heyne, Arlin Ward and Gary Paulsen — all decided to put their ideas together.
When breeder Elmer Heyne returned home from his Australian sabbatical in 1968, he noticed that Kansas had a favorable growing environment for Hard White wheat. Milling professor Arlin Ward argued that he didn’t know a baker or miller that preferred Hard Red Winter wheat to HW. Wheat physiologist Gary Paulsen then made the observation that if Turkey red had been Turkey white, we’d be growing HW wheat today.
Together, these three put their minds together to start the first set of KSU research over Hard White winter wheat. Heyne and Paulsen began to research why HW hadn’t been grown in the High Plains before. Together, and with the help of their students, they were able to come up with the difference in seed colors. They had their students conduct research on the performance of the sister lines between HW and HRW. They found both lines performed equally, however white-seeded lines were more susceptible to pre-harvest sprouting. With this research, they determined there was no way HW could not be grown in Kansas.
Ward also began to look at the milling and baking properties of HW. He found that HW normally had a 1-2 percent milling advantage over HRW. They also found that baked goods had better flavor when HW was used rather than HRW. The HRW would produce a slightly more bitter taste in the bread, which was caused by the tannins in the darker coat.
Since 1985, both KSU breeding programs have worked steadily developing HW selections containing all the necessary traits plus the required milling and baking characteristics. The first public Hard White wheat variety, Arlin, named after Professor Arlin Ward, was released in 1992. Today, K-State, other land-grant universities and various private companies are working hard to keep a full pipeline of new, high-quality hard white winter wheat varieties.