Reinvigorating small grains production plays an important role in diversifying crop rotations and improving farm incomes, regional supply chains, and food security in the North Central Region (NCR). There are many reasons farmers may not currently produce small grains for high-value food-grade markets including artisan milling, brewing, and distilling; awareness of and ability to conduct successful post-harvest handling procedures are among them.
A primary factor in postharvest grain quality loss is a lack of detailed, current, and accessible farmer-centric information on proper cleaning, drying, and storage procedures. Most published resources available address commodity-scale production; on the small to midsize scales, information tends to come from personal experience and informal farmer-to-farmer communication. Development and dissemination of postharvest handling guidelines for this scale of production is needed for these farmers to access high-quality food-grade markets and to expand community food security.
We will work with five food-grade small grain producers to develop resources for other farmers interested in growing value-added wheat and rye, creating: 1) a handbook for cleaning, drying, and storage fundamentals, 2) five case studies featuring farmer experiences and lessons learned, and 3) a video series showcasing farmers setting up and operating cleaning, drying, and storage equipment.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Co-develop a handbook with farmers for value-added wheat and rye postharvest handling aimed at small and midsize farms. Sections will include: cleaning, drying, storage, equipment considerations and decision-making, and financing resources.
2. Feature challenges encountered by collaborators during postharvest handling through a series of case studies highlighting how farmers developed systems to meet their postharvest needs (e.g., choosing cleaning and storage equipment, business planning and identifying funding to develop a cleaning facility, etc.)
3. Produce a series of video tutorials featuring farmers setting up and using equipment to clean, dry, and store wheat and rye.