Diversifying Northwestern fields and palates

Progress report for SW21-926

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2021: $349,999.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2024
Host Institution Award ID: G108-22-W8612
Grant Recipient: Washington State University
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Kevin Murphy
Washington State University
Co-Investigators:
Stephen Bramwell
WSU Dept. Crop and Soil Sciences
Dr. Girish Ganjyal
Washington State University - School of Food Science
Justin O'Dea
Washington State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

Adopting sustainable agricultural practices can increase complexity and management, frequently challenging farm profitability. Crop diversity, a pillar of sustainable agriculture, often relies on rotations that include less profitable crops necessary to disrupt disease and pest cycles. As society demands further strengthening and defining of sustainable practices, markets must also evolve at the same rate to keep farms in business.

To support farmer goals of sustainability and profitability, we propose research and educational outreach projects that will accelerate the development of regional markets for proso millet and buckwheat (Figure 1). These rotational crops intrigue not only Northwest farmers but also our diverse regional stakeholders; processors, maltsters, brewers, millers, bakers, chefs, and schools demand access to these crops. Our stakeholders voiced a need for variety recommendations, nutrition and malt quality data, and networking among growers and end users. We had no regionally adapted resources to share.

For two years, we’ve communicated with stakeholders to develop a project that meets their needs. These discussions gave rise to a highly skilled and motivated project team that includes farmers, food and crop scientists, Extension specialists, and market experts. Together, we successfully identified the crops of interest and identified five main objectives:

1) establish a regional baseline for production and end-use quality of millet and buckwheat varieties currently grown in Idaho and Washington by determining their flavor, food functionality, and nutritional quality to bolster marketability via appropriate end-use recommendations;

2) conduct researcher- and farmer-led millet and buckwheat field trials to identify new varieties for the region that improve upon baseline; 

3) characterize new millet and buckwheat varieties for flavor, food functionality, and nutritional and malt quality to determine end-use suitability while also developing optimized product formulations for focaccia mix, pancake mix, and children’s breakfast bar;

4) conduct a market assessment for regionally produced and processed millet and buckwheat with consumer surveys, school district questionnaires, and stakeholder interviews; and

5) use outreach, education, and networking tools to support supply chain development and product awareness among stakeholders to build consumer demand, grower interest, processing capacity, and market connections for millet and buckwheat crops and products.

To ensure crop access, familiarity, and adoption, our project uniquely engages producers and stakeholders along the entire supply chain in collaboration. We will devote much of our project resources to on-farm trialing to not only identify regional differences in variety selection but also to boost farmer confidence in the crops. Stakeholders guided our project target end uses to represent products already in production, and enthusiastically support optimizing product formulations to showcase inclusion of regionally produced millet and buckwheat in value-added products. Our educational outreach is focused on developing lasting relationships and exchanging information throughout the supply chain to support the production and processing of these crops. Our project has the potential, in the short timeframe of three years, to establish a cohort of 20 growers equipped with appropriate varieties of millet and buckwheat to satisfy the cohort of over 20 regional end-use stakeholders who have expressed a demand for the crops.

Project Objectives:

1) Establish a regional baseline for production and end-use quality of millet and buckwheat varieties currently grown in Idaho and Washington by determining their flavor, food functionality, and nutritional quality to bolster marketability via appropriate end-use recommendations; 

2) Conduct researcher- and farmer-led millet and buckwheat field trials to identify new varieties for the region that improve upon baseline;   

3) Characterize new millet and buckwheat varieties for flavor, food functionality, and nutritional and malt quality to determine end-use suitability while also developing optimized product formulations for focaccia mix, pancake mix, and children’s breakfast bar; 

4) Conduct a market assessment for regionally produced and processed millet and buckwheat with consumer surveys, school district questionnaires, and stakeholder interviews; and 

5Use outreach, education, and networking tools to support supply chain development and product awareness among stakeholders to build consumer demand, grower interest, processing capacity, and market connections for millet and buckwheat crops and products. 

Timeline:

Please see the attached Gantt chart. WSARE20_Murphy_ProjectTimeline_Gantt

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Jason Bishop - Producer
  • Rachel Breslauer
  • Jeremy Bunch - Technical Advisor
  • Evan Craine
  • Pichmony Ek
  • Brian Estes - Technical Advisor
  • Elizabeth Nalbandian
  • Annette Slonim - Technical Advisor
  • Julianne Kellogg
  • Joni Kindwall-Moore - Technical Advisor
  • Keith Kisler - Producer
  • Don Sheuerman - Producer
  • Tayler Reinman
  • Annie Salafsky
  • Dave Hedlin - Producer
  • Evan Mulvaney - Producer
  • Colin Barricklow - Producer
  • Pryor Garnett - Producer
  • Dennis Styger - Producer
  • Bill and Mary Reisinger - Producer
  • Mike Peroni - Producer
  • Keith Fagernes - Producer
  • Ryan Mensonides - Producer
  • Amanda Musser
  • Jay Gordon - Producer
  • Ian Clark - Producer
  • Douglas Poole - Producer
  • Jim Hermann - Producer
  • Clint Zenner - Producer
  • David Brewer - Producer
  • Brent Uhlorn - Producer
  • Mahvash Rezaey
  • Chris Iberle
  • Michael De La Cruz
  • Maja Toft
  • Lola Milhilland
  • Dillon DeBauche

Research

Hypothesis:

1) a regional baseline for production and end-use quality of proso millet and buckwheat varieties currently grown in Idaho and Washington will determine differences in flavor, food functionality, and nutritional quality and will establish categories for appropriate end-uses;

2) researcher- and farmer-led proso millet and buckwheat field trials will determine differences in agronomic performance among varieties across the region; 

3) new proso millet and buckwheat varieties will differ in flavor, food functionality, and nutritional and malt quality. Data will determine end-use suitability and guide the development of optimized product formulations for focaccia mix, pancake mix, and children’s breakfast bar; and

4) a market assessment will determine stakeholder preferences for regionally produced and processed proso millet and buckwheat.

Materials and methods:

Objective 1: Establish a regional baseline for production and end-use quality of millet and buckwheat varieties currently grown in Idaho and Washington by determining their flavor, food functionality, and nutritional quality to bolster marketability via appropriate end-use recommendations (Year 1).

In Year 1, we will assess regional millet and buckwheat production and end-use to establish baseline information on agronomic and end-use performance and to inform improvement strategies. We will map commercial millet and buckwheat production and gather quantitative data (acreage, variety, yield, end-use). We will collect representative grain samples from commercial growers and analyze them as outlined in Objective 3. We will conduct producer interviews at the beginning and end of the project (Table 1) to document producer needs and enable evaluation and impact assessment.   

In the following research and education objectives, we will show how we will assess flavor, food functionality, and nutritional quality data to identify optimal end uses for each crop and variety grown. We will work with our producer-collaborators and stakeholders to develop reliable food processing methods to bring these crops and products to market (Figure 2) (Objective 3). For example, a producer-collaborator-grown millet crop would be preliminarily evaluated, milled, and then used in products developed with a collaborating stakeholder and Dr. Ganjyal’s lab. Expert sensory panels, consisting of research team members and stakeholder-collaborators, will be used to provide focused feedback that informs the optimization of product formulations (Objective 3). Panelists will complete a questionnaire (Table 2). Later in the project, consumer acceptability and preferences will be crowd-sourced at outreach events using rapid response surveys at booths with taste-testing activities (Table 2) (Objective 5.4).

 

Objective 2: Conduct researcher- and farmer-led millet and buckwheat field trials to identify new varieties for the region that improve upon baseline (Years 1-2).

The project aims to select new millet and buckwheat varieties that improve upon baseline agronomics, flavor, food functionality, and nutritional quality. Varieties will be assessed with a mother and baby trial (MBT) design that captures regional adaptability (Figure 3). Most commonly used in participatory plant breeding, the MBT approach links researcher-led “mother” trials, where all crop factors are evaluated in a replicated design, to farmer-led “baby” trials (not replicated on farm but replicated across farms) to capture diverse management practices and environmental conditions [21].

MBT locations (Figure 4) will span temperature and precipitation regimes in Western WA/Northern OR (buckwheat) and Eastern WA/Idaho Panhandle/Northern OR (millet). Buckwheat sites will have varied planting times as well as precipitation and temperature regimes. The buckwheat mother trial site will be located at the 78th St. Heritage Farm in Vancouver, WA, typified by a Willamette Valley regional climate with slightly higher in-season temperatures and lower precipitation than most confirmed buckwheat baby trial sites located in more maritime regions of the NW. The millet mother trial will occur at the Spillman Research Farm in Pullman, WA; the site receives 21-in. mean annual precipitation (MAP). Baby trials will be located within 260 miles of Pullman in WA, ID, and OR, with MAP ranging from 11-in to 24-in. We will identify additional baby trial hosts in cooperation with Shepherd’s Grain, a group with extensive farmer networks in the Inland Northwest.

One mother trial will be planted for each crop species (Years 1-2); a researcher-led randomized and replicated variety trial of millet in Eastern WA (7 varieties) and buckwheat in Southwest WA (6 varieties) will each. The mother trials will include varieties identified in Objective 1, lesser known commercially available varieties, and breeding populations developed in Washington state. We will determine key traits of interest for each crop with the producer interview (Table 2). During the proposal development, growers identified weed suppression, ground cover, and a short growing season as important traits for buckwheat and millet in their rotation. Evaluated traits will include percent emergence, days to canopy closure, disease incidence/severity, days to maturity, plant height, and yield.

A sub-set of varieties will be grown across a range of environments in non-replicated, farmer-led, on-farm baby trials (Years 1-2; 1-4 varieties, plus a control variety) per crop to determine variety performance across environments and capture farmers’ perceptions and acceptance of new varieties. The control variety will be replicated at each baby trial. The host farmer will determine the size of a baby trial and the number of entries at each trial. Replication of varieties across farms will increase statistical power for assessing variety differences across locations. We will analyze data among baby trials if more than three growers are assigned more than one of the same variety or if growers elect to replicate within their farms. We will encourage participating farmers to plant field-scale experimental plots (> 0.25 acres) to effectively assess variety performance in their system. Large plot sizes will capture the heterogeneity across a field, which helps improve inference when replication is otherwise lacking. Host farmers will provide qualitative data (e.g., vigor, overall acceptance, production challenges) and quantitative data (e.g., emergence, canopy development, yield).

By using both replicated trials (“mother”) and non-replicated trials (“baby”), the MBT experimental design allows flexibility in analysis when using a mixed-effects model. We can: (1) determine the correlation between variety performance on-farm (baby trial) and variety performance on-station (mother trial); (2) measure variety reliability using the probability it will perform above or below the mean; and (3) conduct pairwise comparisons of varieties. If a variety is not replicated across farms and is therefore not well represented across the region, fewer inferences can be made [22]. However, these data remain critical to the project because they inform future variety selection decisions by farmers. Additionally, the qualitative data provided by farmers will be included in our publications, with permission.

Seed produced in MBTs will be used to develop product formulations and for nutritional quality and food functionality assessments (Objective 3). The remaining baby trial seed will be incorporated into products by stakeholder collaborators, used for bird seed by Global Harvest Foods (Spokane, WA), and used for on-farm livestock feed.

 

Objective 3: Characterize new millet and buckwheat varieties for flavor, food functionality, and nutritional and malt quality to determine end-use suitability while also developing optimized product formulations for focaccia mix, pancake mix, and children’s breakfast bar (Years 1-3).

Dr. Murphy’s lab will perform nutritional characterization of millet and buckwheat samples from MBTs. Mineral content will be measured with traditional analytical methods. Data will be used to develop calibrations for high-throughput analysis via near-infrared and x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. An innovative flatbed scanner phenotyping platform will measure seed size, shape, color, and thousand seed weight.   

Physicochemical properties of flours are important for identifying how the flours perform in different food applications. The chemical compositions and functionalities of millet and buckwheat from breeding trials in Objectives 1 and 2 will be measured in Dr. Ganjyal’s laboratory. The chemical compositions to be evaluated include starch, protein, fiber, crude fat, and ash content. These will be determined using standard methods. Flour functional properties to be evaluated include thermal, pasting (rheological), and hydration properties[23,24]. A Differential Scanning Calorimeter will perform thermal analyses. Pasting properties will be analyzed with a Micro-Visco amylograph[24]. The water absorption index and water solubility index will be measured according to published standard methods[23]. All data from the above physicochemical analyses will be used to categorize the millet and buckwheat varieties for processing conditions and potential end-use applications (food and malting/brewing). (Figure 2). Using this approach, Dr. Murphy and Dr. Ganjyal have successfully categorized diverse varieties of quinoa into groups based on the most appropriate end use, such as noodles, pasta, sauces, soups, and different baking products, depending on physicochemical analyses[23].

We will select millet and buckwheat varieties based on their chemical composition and functionalities to develop three food product formulations: focaccia mix, pancake mix, and children’s breakfast bar. Formulations will be optimized to maintain or improve flavor, texture, and nutritional quality. WSU Malt Quality Lab (Pullman, WA) will provide consultation and support malting, malt quality analysis, and interpretation of malt quality with sensory data provided through stakeholder-expert panels.

The varieties of millet and buckwheat will be selected and tested in the following specific food applications: a) focaccia mix, b) pancake mix, and c) children’s breakfast bar.

Focaccia mix – Focaccia mix formulations will be tested. Wheat flour + millet flour blends (0, 25, 50, 75, and 100%), as well as wheat flour + buckwheat flour blends (0,25,50,75,100%) will be used as the base formulation for the focaccia mix. A commercial wheat-based focaccia will be used as control.

Pancake mix – The product formulation will be initiated from a commercial pancake mix. The wheat + buckwheat flour blends (0, 25, 50, 75, and 100%) and the wheat + millet flour blends (0, 12.5, 25, 50, and 100%) will be evaluated and compared with the 100% wheat pancake mix as controls. 

Children’s breakfast bar – The product formulation will be initiated from a commercial breakfast bar, and up to 40% of buckwheat and millet blend will be used in the formulations. Formulations will be optimized to have millet and buckwheat as leading ingredients and to maintain taste and texture without compromising nutritional value

An expert sensory panel and the research team will evaluate select products from each of the above-mentioned categories for consumer acceptability (Figure 2). The expert sensory panel will include stakeholders who already carry the identified three products, are interested in branching out into those products, or produce other products (e.g., noodles, beer) but will provide informative feedback on the varieties tested. Our stakeholder-collaborators will also use the products as the initial formulations in development of commercial products. For example, a buckwheat variety identified as a high performing flour in quick bread mixes will be 1) sourced from a baby trial (Hidden River Farm); 2) dehulled, kept as whole groats, or milled; and 3) shipped to a stakeholder-collaborator (Snacktivist). Snacktivist will use the buckwheat in the pancake formulation provided by the research team but will also be encouraged to experiment beyond the provided formulation (Figure 3). Snacktivist will complete a questionnaire (Table 2) designed to provide the research team critical information on end-use suitability of the variety and performance of the product formulation. Several of our stakeholder letters of support identify additional members on the expert sensory panel.

 

Objective 4: Conduct a market assessment for regionally produced and processed millet and buckwheat with consumer surveys, school district questionnaires, and stakeholder interviews.

We will work with WSU’s Division of Governmental Studies and Services (DGSS) to assess marketability for millet and buckwheat products. Over the three-year project period, we will: 1) conduct consumer surveys; 2) provide school districts comprehensive questionnaires; and 3) interview stakeholders to better understand pricing and feasibility of product incorporation (Table 2).

Because the majority of consumer groups relative to our project are not easily reached via random sampling, nonprobability methodology (convenience sampling) will be used. The increased response numbers obtained through nonprobability survey methods will provide important information regarding the local market for these products while avoiding the substantial costs of probability surveys. The survey will be promoted among partners such as the Culinary Breeding Network and Organic Seed Alliance and will take advantage of mailing lists, other listservs, newsletters, social media, and websites. The targeted audience will also be reached via our Field to Flavor Showcase events.

School districts are a key institutional buyer. We will develop a comprehensive questionnaire to capture school district requirements such as price ranges, sourcing constraints, product fit, food safety certifications, volumes handled, and volume periodicity. We will email a link to a web-based survey to all 294 school districts in Washington State and to school districts in Idaho and Oregon familiar with farm-to-school projects.

We will conduct a series of in-person interviews with businesses/stakeholders (including those on the expert sensory panel), to gain a better understanding of the potential they see for the grain varieties they tested, feasibility of incorporating millet/buckwheat into their products, and to assist in guiding price estimation. The target audience for this outreach will be largely informed by responses to the surveys conducted earlier in the study. Survey data will be entered, cleaned, and analyzed by the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, as will data obtained through the interviews.

Research results and discussion:

Objective 1 (Baseline) Preliminary Results:

 

To establish a baseline for proso millet and buckwheat production and quality in the target region (WA, ID, OR), producers were solicited using social media, email, and direct contact during the first six months of the project. Nine producers responded to outreach efforts and contributed crop samples. Collaborating baseline producers were from WA (n = 5), ID (n = 2), and OR (n = 2) (Table 1). A total of 13 samples were collected; nine samples were named varieties (proso millet, n = 3; buckwheat, n = 6). Four buckwheat baseline samples were unnamed varieties (variety not specified, VNS). Baseline samples were collected from differing farm types (dairy, seed production, grain production, and potato production) and differing management systems (organic and conventional). Baseline samples were subsampled from bulk on-farm storage of crops harvested between 2018 and 2020. Crops were intended for food, feed, and seed markets or used as cover crops.

 

Table 1. Baseline crop and farm characteristics.

Crop City State Year harvested Crop acreage Estimated yield (lb/acre) End use  Farm type Other farm characteristics
Buckwheat Bow WA 2021 - - Cover crop Large-scale potato and diversified operation Conventional and organic
Chehalis WA 2021 4 - Cover crop Organic dairy Organic
Chimacum WA 2021 4 1,750 Food Mid-scale diversified operation Organic
Mesa WA 2020 7,078 2,000 Food Large-scale seed production operation Conventional, no spray
Albany OR 2020 4 1,600 Seed Mid-scale diversified operation Conventional, reduced tillage, reduced chemical input
Sheridan OR 2020 20+ 150 Cover crop Small-scale grain operation Organic
 -  -  -  -  -
Proso millet Cottonwood ID 2021 10 250 Food Large-scale grain  Conventional, no-till, regenerative
Genesee ID 2018 50 1,000 Feed Large scale grain operation Conventional, reduced tillage
Edwall WA 2021 <1 - Food Mid-scale grain and cattle operation Conventional, reduced tillage

 

To determine nutritional and functional quality of the baseline samples, samples were analyzed with or without hulls (hulled or dehulled). At present, nine buckwheat samples (hulled, n = 7; dehulled, n = 9) (Table 2) and two proso millet samples (dehulled, n = 2) (Table 3) have undergone testing.

 

Table 2. Buckwheat baseline sample nutritional and functional characteristics. Reported values are the mean ± standard deviation. All values are expressed on dry weight basis. Pasting properties include pasting temperature (PT), viscosity peak (PV), end of cooling period viscosity (ECPV), breakdown (BD), and setback (SB). Functional properties include water absorption index (WAI), water solubility index (WSI), flour swelling power (FSP), foaming capacity (FC), foaming stability (FS), oil holding capacity (OHC), water holding capacity (WHC).

      Proximate composition Pasting properties Functional properties
  Variety Processing Moisture (g/100 g) Ash Fat Protein Crude Fiber (g/100 g) Starch PT (°C) PV ECPV (mPa·s) BD SB WAI (g/g) WSI (%) FSP(g/g) FC (%) FS (%) OHC(%) WHC (%)
Buckwheat Kitawase  Dehulled - 2.1±0.1 3.1±0.2 - 1.4±0.2 63.8±0.4 - - - - - - - - 17.5±10.6 0.0±0.0 - 1.5±0.0
Koma  Dehulled 9.2±0.0 2.2±0.0 - - - - - - - - - 1.9±0.1 11.9±0.4 2.1±0.1 25.0±7.1 0.0±0.0 - 1.4±0.0
Koto  Dehulled 8.4±0.0 1.1±0.0 - 10.6±0.4 - - 72.3±0.0 411.3±4.2 560.9±8.2 31.3±9.5 180.9±13.5 2.0±0.0 8.9±0.1 2.2±0.0 16.7±5.8 0.0±0.0 1.0±0.0 1.3±0.0
Mancan  Dehulled - 2.1±0.0 3.0±0.1   - 58.9±3.7 - - - - - 1.9±0.0 11.5±0.1 2.1±0.0 20.0±0.0 62.5±17.7 - -
VNS, 1 Dehulled 10.0±0.1 1.5±0.0 - 7.8±0.0 - - 69.8±1.8 296.8±123.2 455.9±133.8 9.9±7.4 169.0±18.0 2.0±0.0 7.3±0.3 2.2±0.0 10.0±0.0 0.0±0.0 1.0±0.0 1.5±0.1
VNS, 2 Dehulled 10.5±0.0 1.8±0.0 - 13.3±0.0 - - 71.8±1.2 302.6±8.6 418.2±13.9 0.5±0.4 116.1±4.8 1.8±0.1 12.3±0.1 2.1±0.1 21.3±5.3 0.0±0.0 1.0±0.0 1.3±0.1
VNS, 3 Dehulled 12.1±0.1 1.4±0.0 - 9.4±0.0 - - 70.5±0.2 381.9±6.3 551.8±9.6 12.0±0.8 181.9±2.5 1.9±0.0 8.8±0.1 2.1±0.0 20.0±0.0 18.8±26.5 1.0±0.0 1.3±0.0
 -  -  -
Botan  Hulled 9.0±0.0 2.1±0.3 2.9±0.4 11.3±0.3 10.0±1.3 54.4±0.7 - - - - - 2.1±0.0 10.2±0.1 2.4±0.0 25.0±7.1 0.0±0.0 1.5±0.3 2.0±0.2
Horizon  Hulled 8.9±0.0 2.3±0.1 2.9±0.4 10.8±0.1 10.2±0.3 48.4±1.3 - - - - - 2.3±0.0 9.6±0.1 2.5±0.0 20.0±0.0 0.0±0.0 1.3±0.1 1.9±0.1
Kitawase  Hulled 9.4±0.0 2.1±0.3 3.5±0.4 12.4±0.0 10.6±0.6 49.0±3.2 - - - - - 2.2±0.0 10.2±0.1 2.4±0.0 15.0±21.2 0.0±0.0 1.3±0.1 1.8±0.0
Koma  Hulled 9.6±0.1 2.0±0.2 2.7±0.1 11.9±0.0 9.4±1.0 49.8±2.2 - - - - - 2.1±0.0 10.8±0.0 2.4±0.0 16.3±5.3 0.0±0.0 1.3±0.0 1.8±0.0
Koto  Hulled 7.5±0.1 1.6±0.0 - 11.5±0.4 - - 65.6±10.1 210.8±12.2 235.4±42.3 32.4±45.7 57.0±8.7 2.2±0.0 9.3±0.2 2.4±0.0 22.5±6.6 0.0±0.0 1.2±0.0 1.6±0.0
Mancan  Hulled 9.3±0.1 2.0±0.1 3.1±0.6 10.8±0.5 - 53.0±1.0 - - - - - 2.1.4±0.0 9.5±0.1 2.3±0.0 26.3±8.8 0.0±0.0 1.4±0.0 1.5±0.0
VNS, 1 Hulled 7.6±0.1 2.2±0.1 - 7.7±0.3 - - 71.1±0.4 178.3±30.2 204.1±13.9 22.7±29 48.5±15.1 2.4±0.0 7.3±0.3 2.6±0.0 0.0±0.0 0.0±.0.0 1.2±0.0 2.2±0.0
VNS, 2 Hulled 8.8±0.1 2.9±0.0 - 12.4±0.7 - - 71.6±0.3 204.7±51.1 164.0±70.1 73.6±103.9 32.9±17.3 2.2±0.2 11.1±0.1 2.5±0.3 7.5±3.5 0.0±0.0 1.2±0.1 1.7±0.0
VNS, 3 Hulled 9.2±0.0 1.6±0.0 - 8.3±0.0 - - 70.0±0.4 213.5±3.3 284.0±9.5 1.5±0.9 72.0±7.1 2.2±0.0 8.1±0.2 2.4±0.0 13.8±5.3 0.0±0.0 1.1±0.0 1.7±0.0

 

Table 3. Proso millet baseline sample nutritional and functional characteristics. Reported values are the mean ± standard deviation. All values are expressed on dry weight basis. Pasting properties include pasting temperature (PT), viscosity peak (PV), end of cooling period viscosity (ECPV), breakdown (BD), and setback (SB). Functional properties include water absorption index (WAI), water solubility index (WSI), flour swelling power (FSP), foaming capacity (FC), foaming stability (FS), oil holding capacity (OHC), water holding capacity (WHC).

      Proximate composition Pasting properties Functional properties
Proso Millet Variety Processing Moisture (g/100 g) Ash Fat Protein Crude Fiber (g/100 g) Starch PT (°C) PV ECPV (mPa·s) BD SB WAI (g/g) WSI (%) FSP(g/g) FC (%) FS (%) OHC(%) WHC (%)
Dawn  Dehulled 7.4±0.1 0.8±0.0 - 10.4±0.1 0.45±0.1 - 75.8±0.4 264.3±11.5 396.2±13.4 65.4±0.1 197.3±2.1 1.8±0.2 3.4±0.1 1.9±0.2 15.0±4.3 73.3±30.6 1.2±0.0 1.4±0.0
Huntsman  Dehulled 5.9±0.2 0.9±0.0 - 9.9±0.0 0.3±0.4 - 76.5±0.8 317.2±6.7 452.8±0.4 78.2±8.9 213.9±16.1 1.9±0.0 3.8±0.0 2.0±0.0 3.3±5.8 0.0±0.0 1.1±0.0 1.4±0.1

 

To determine producer needs and current buckwheat and proso millet production practices in the target region, 30-minute phone interviews were conducted with producers hosting on-farm buckwheat and proso millet trials. At present, 14 producers have been interviewed. Information collected during the interviews included farm characteristics, agricultural practices, previous experiences with buckwheat and proso millet, and expectations around project outcomes. The interviews helped shape research methods and ensured utility of the project.  

To determine tastemaker needs and current food processing practices, interviews were conducted with tastemakers in the target region. At present, two tastemakers have been interviewed. Interviews have been conducted with representatives from regional businesses that currently use, or have expressed interest in using, buckwheat or proso millet for their niche-market products (e.g., gluten-free beer and gluten-free malt). The interviews have revealed the potential for regional businesses to incorporate regionally grown buckwheat or proso millet into their products. Additionally, the interviews suggest producers could be incentivized to grow buckwheat or proso millet for these regional stakeholders.

 

Objective 2 (Field Trials) Preliminary Results:

 

Field trials have yet to commence (May/June 2022). However, significant efforts have been undertaken to:

  • recruit producer collaborators to host on-farm trials (proso millet, n = 9; buckwheat, n = 10) using social media, email lists, and direct contact;
  • source commercial varieties of proso millet (n = 7) and buckwheat (n = 6) (Figure 1);
  • establish field trial data collection protocols;
  • synthesize previous research to establish best practices for regional buckwheat and proso millet production; and
  • survey, cultivate, and prepare land for the research station mother trials (Figure 2).

 

Figure 1. Dr. Kevin Murphy moving proso millet seed for the 2022 field trials. Photo by Tayler Reinman.

Dr. Kevin Murphy moving proso millet seed for the 2022 field trials. Photo by Tayler Reinman.

 

Figure 2. Buckwheat mother trial located at the 78th St. Heritage Farm in Vancouver, WA. Image by Justin O'Dea.

Buckwheat mother trial located at the 78th St. Heritage Farm in Vancouver, WA. Image by Justin O'Dea.

 

Objective 3 (Product Formulations) Preliminary Results:

 

Substantial time and effort have been dedicated to developing the initial product formulations for the three food products to be optimized during this project. At present, the working formulations are:

Focaccia mix wheat flour + proso millet flour blends (0, 25, 50, 75, and 100%) and wheat + buckwheat flour blends (0, 25, 50, 75, and 100%).

Pancake mix – Wheat + buckwheat flour blends (0, 12.5, 25, 50, and 100%) and wheat + proso millet flour blends (0, 12.5, 25, 50, and 100%).

Children’s breakfast bar Up to 40% of buckwheat and proso millet blend.

Tastemakers from the target region have been recruited to serve on the expert sensory panel (n = 4); several other have been invited to join.

Research conclusions:

Objective 1 (Baseline) research is not complete. Samples require further nutritional and functionality testing and several additional producers have committed to providing baseline samples. Interviews are ongoing. Objective 2 (Field Trials) research has not yet begun. Objective 3 (Variety Characterization/Product Formulation) research is underway for product formulations, but not complete.

Participation Summary
19 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Published press articles, newsletters

Participation Summary:

19 Farmers
1 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

In mid-March, a project newsletter was sent to producers who agreed to host on-farm variety trials of buckwheat or proso millet (n = 21). The newsletter included links to relevant reference materials, a schedule of important upcoming activities, a summary of successful project benchmarks, and a team directory with contact information and roles of each researcher. Future monthly newsletters will maintain communication with the group of producer collaborators. The newsletters complement direct communications with producer collaborators during the project.

The newsletter included information for on-farm trial management (e.g., field preparation, planting, chemical inputs, and harvest practices). Guidance was informed by Extension documents from other universities. The team clearly disclosed that the information provided to producers was summarized from research not specific to our region; producers were instructed to use best judgement in tailoring practices to their local conditions. Producer experiences during the upcoming field trial seasons will inform two management guides (one for proso millet and one for buckwheat) that will be published as part of this project.

A webpage for the project was developed and added to the Sustainable Seed Systems Lab website (https://www.sustainableseedsystems.org/new-grains-nw.html). The webpage uses a new name for the project, New Grains Northwest, which was developed during several project branding sessions. The webpage provides an overview of the project, project photos, project rationale, project team and stakeholder information, baseline data, and field trial information. Interested stakeholders are frequently directed to the webpage.

Our first research station field day for the proso millet mother trial and a buckwheat test plot will occur on July 7, 2022, at the Spillman Research Farm in Pullman, WA as part of the Inland Northwest Artisan Grains Conference.

Information Products

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.