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Immature grain content may hurt wheat bread-making quality.

The premature harvesting of wheat generates immature kernels which may have a negative impact on the quality of the wheat.

Canadian scientists set out to investigate the effect of immature kernels on grain, flour and bread-making quality. The upshot of their work: Grain processors should be aware that high levels of immature grain may compromise wheat end-use quality.

Four wheat cultivars, AC Barrie, Snowbird, Snowhite 475 and Argent, were grown in three western Canadian environments. Wheat plants were harvested at three weeks, yielding immature grain, and at six weeks, yielding mature grain, post anthesis. These were dried at 25 C to reach a moisture content of approximately 10%.

The researchers found that the protein content of both the immature and mature grain samples were not significantly different. The freshly harvested immature grain samples were green compared to the light brown mature grain samples. Although immature grain color changed when the grain was dried in air from green to light brown, there was still a significant difference in the color of the immature grain: L* was 52.3, a* was 6.6 and b* was 17.1. This compared to the color data of the mature grain for which L* was 55.4, a* was 5.7 and b* was 18.3.

On average, whole wheat flour prepared from immature grain was darker and redder in color than the flour obtained from mature grain. Whole wheat bread baked from immature grain was characterized by a lower loaf volume, redder crumb and greater crumb firmness compared to bread from mature grain.

Bread crumb structure--cell size and elongation--was not affected by grain maturity. The effect of immature grain on quality was cultivar-dependent. The quality characteristics of some cultivars were greatly affected by grain maturity, whereas others were not.

Further information. Dr. Ron DePauw, Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, P.O. Box 1030, Swift Current, Saskatchewan S9H 3X2, Canada; phone: 306-778-7241; fax: 306-778-3188; email:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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