Can you provide information or a link that explains the growing conditions...

Asked March 9, 2020, 8:35 PM EDT

Can you provide information or a link that explains the growing conditions required for HARD winter wheat. I am trying to understand why HARD winter wheat cannot be grown in Ohio...what necessary conditions are missing, and what negative/prohibitive conditions are present in Ohio? Are there microclimates within ohio where small-scale hard winter wheat might be grown (10-20 acres). Thank you for your assistance. Philip

Wayne County Ohio

1 Response

Hello Philip,
I could find very limited information in relation to your question about growing hard red winter wheat in Ohio vs. soft red winter wheat. Searching on-line I found a Mid-August 2006 article from Ohio's Country Journal on the topic of new wheat varieties. The article mentioned that Ohio is not generally considered for hard red winter wheat because our growing conditions do not consistently allow for the high proteins millers want for bread making in a hard red wheat.
I also checked with Ed Lentz, an Extension Educator in Hancock County that has expertise in agronomic crops, including wheat. I asked Ed your question and his reply back to me is copied below.
Looks like there are some limited markets here in Ohio, but you need to have a contract if you are going to market hard red winter wheat and with a provision for the potentially lower than desirable protein levels.
Read what Ed has to say:

Generally, hard red winter Is not grown because grain buyers will not take hard wheat grown independently. Some mills and grain buyers have contracts with farmers to grow a specific variety of hard to semi-hard winter wheat to blend with soft wheat for the food industry. It is a very small acreage. We have some in northwestern Ohio. Some individuals produce and sell their own bread products and will grow hard wheat for their own local market. Hard wheats are better for bread because of the gluten and elasticity properties as well as the higher protein. Because of food labels, a seller will have to meet the protein content if they claim it on the food label. At times, this protein level is difficult to reach in our climate (protein development likes sunny, dry conditions). Also, wheat varieties historically are adapted to a specific region of the country and do not perform well out of that region. Most of the hard wheat varieties have been developed for the Great Plains and do not perform as well when moved eastward. However, if your producer wants to grow hard red winter wheat, I would expect it would grow but whether they should do it will depend on their end use.

I hope this is helpful.
Sincerely,
Rory