MANHATTAN, Kan. -Wheat growers from across the nation gathered at the Kansas State University Grain Science complex last week to learn more about the process wheat undergoes after it leaves the farm. Through a course offered by the International Grains Program, 15 wheat industry leaders learned about flour milling and baking processes.

Throughout the week, participants attended presentations from Mark Fowler, milling specialist and IGP associate director; Justin Gilpin, CEO of Kansas Wheat; and Dave Krishock, flour quality and baking specialist. For portions of the course, participants learned about classes and quality of wheat, milling math and blending, and also had the opportunity to get hands on experience in an operating flour mill.

"A great opportunity during the course was our visit to the Hal Ross flour mill," said Gary Millershaski, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers president and course participant. "Seeing the mill in operation for the first time gave me a much better understanding of how the flour milling process works."

Participants gained a greater understanding of the relationship between wheat quality and flour performance through lectures, hands-on milling labs in Shellenberger Hall, the Hal Ross Flour Mill and a bakery lab.

The course condensed three semesters of classes into three days, giving attendees the full knowledge of the journey wheat takes from kernel to flour.

"This course was designed for wheat commissioners to experience the entire milling process from wheat selection and processing to flour quality and the finished product produced for the consumer," said Mark Fowler.

The diverse group of industry leaders who attended the course gave participants the opportunity to learn from each other. Representatives from wheat organizations across the country brought the unique perspective of the wheat industry from the areas where they produce.

"It was great to have a couple members from the Washington Grain Commission attending the course," said Millershaski. "They supplied several tons of soft white wheat that we were able to mill side by side with the Kansas hard red winter wheat. It gave us a chance to see the difference between wheats and how mill settings need to be adjusted to switch between different types of wheats."

Participants also had the opportunity to learn about the significance of wheat quality in export markets to U.S. wheat producers. Chad Weigand, U.S. Wheat Associates staff member based in Mexico said the course gave him the ability to have more educated conversations with overseas buyers of U.S. wheat.

"This course gives you a basic understanding of milling and baking processes," said Weigand. "That understanding is essential when meeting with overseas buyers and millers. It helps us understand our customers' desires when we are meeting with them in their flour mills, highlighting the advantages of U.S. wheat."

This course is just one of the specialized trainings offered through IGP's flour milling and grain processing curriculum. In addition, IGP offers courses in the areas of feed manufacturing and grain management, and grain marketing and risk management. For more information visit the IGP website at www.grains.k-state.edu/igp.