Specialty growers try primitive wheat trial

25 Jun, 2003 10:00 PM
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STEVE and Suzanne Woods have sown 20ha of spelt wheat at their property, Emdavale, north of Calingiri, as a trial.

Considered one of the primitive wheats, spelt wheat has been grown since the Bronze age.

Interest in spelt wheat has been rekindled because it lacks the protein gliadin, which causes gluten intolerance.

But Steve and Suzanne are no newcomers to specialty grains.

Short of turning their back on AWB¹s national pool, they opted to diversify five years ago.

This year¹s 700ha cropping program will include 300ha of Winjardie oats for export hay, 200ha of Calingiri wheat and 200ha of Datatine - a soft wheat which they have milled for Emdavale Farm Flour Products.

They first grew soft wheat in 1998 because of its superior baking qualities - with a view to supplying specialist bakeries.

Getting the soft wheat milled and bagged was only the beginning of a long process which resulted in one and two kilogram bags of flour available in various Action, SupaValu and Coles stores.

Mills and Wares, specialist bakeries and patisseries uses 25kg bags for biscuit production.

The Woods also produce 400ha of Datatine annually with neighbors Troy and Shona McDonald.

Runner-up in the RIRDC women¹s development award earlier this year, Suzanne Woods received a $5000 travel subsidy to investigate the specialty grains industry.

³Having visited millers and bakers in the eastern states, we found that the Datatine that we are growing and milling for soft wheat flour is in fact unique,² Suzanne said.

³Soft wheat flour in the east appears to be a low protein noodle wheat.²

Datatine has a good rust rating and was the highest yielding selection of the Australian named soft wheat varieties in the Agriculture Department¹s 2002 crop variety testing.

Suzanne Woods said there were export markets yet to be pursued.

³Western cultures use soft wheat flour for baking but it is also suitable for steamed buns, suggesting there is an enormous market in Asia,² she said.

Steve and Suzanne have had a great deal of contact with their customers, whether they are biscuit manufacturers, supermarkets or home bakers.

Promoting Emdavale Farm Flour Products at food trade shows has reinforced the need to ensure that quality assurance and identity preservation measures are in place.

³When selling the flour, we are selling something of ourselves and long-term we will be working toward an environmental management system so that we can reinforce our growing practices at a commercial level.²

The purchase of a second hand Flexicoil air seeder for this season¹s seeding, was a step in this direction.

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