Wednesday, May 30, 2012

2012 wheat harvest begins

2012 wheat harvest has begun. Grower, Kenny Haines informed me yesterday that Billy Carter of Carter Farms in the Sandhills of NC began cutting his TAM 303 this past weekend. TAM 303, though a sad moniker for this regionally adapted hard red winter (bread) wheat (one of USDA-ARS wheat breeder Dr David Marshall’s varieties), was the first of the wheats that our bakers tried when the prospect of working with NC grown grains first surfaced. It’s been over three years since that initial meeting when us bakers pulled chairs into a circle and began discussing the concept of working directly with NC growers. Outside the confines of our bakeries, where fermentation times, hydration, and dough performance rule,  we could entertain the idea-- the possibility-- of working with bread flour grown in the Carolinas. That first meeting took place just after the profound spike in the price of wheat-- later coined the 2008 Wheat Crisis-- which was a big impetus for us,  pushing us to consider stepping outside our comfort zone and take a good long look at our reliance on commodity flours. Even still, it was not until we actually tried the flour made with NC-grown TAM 303 that the momentum for this project gained ground. And now here we are, this many years later, actually doing it. 
Kenny said our Turkey wheat (a heritage variety) and NuEast (another of Dr Marshall’s regionally adapted modern varieties) are just turning from green to a golden hue. Once harvested, samples of the grain will be tested for protein, falling numbers (a test that indicates if there is any level of sprout damage), micotoxins, moisture, and test weight. Joe Lindley, of Lindley Mills in Graham, NC, has offered to do thorough lab testing on the grain. I want to give a big thank you to Joe for this offer, as he continues to show his commitment to NC growers and bakers alike. He is producing an NC-grown TAM 303 roller-milled flour, a foundational flour which is the perfect compliment to the stone ground flours Carolina Ground is turning out. We certainly have it good here in the Carolinas.
from the ground up,
Jennifer Lapidus

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