General Mills has partnered with The Land Institute and the University of Minnesota to work toward the commercialization of Kernza – a new drought-resistant grain that offers greater environmental benefits has deep roots and doesn’t need to be replanted each year.
General Mills plan to incorporate the relative of wild wheat into its line of cereals and snacks marketed under its Cascadian Farm organic brand, with the new formulations hitting store shelves early next year.
The dense root system of the plant reaches 10 feet, twice as deep as the root system of conventional wheat, eliminating the need for farmers to re-till and replant each season. The root system also prevents erosion, reduces leaching of nitrogen, and is more efficient at storing nutrients and water.
However, despite the advantages of having a nutty flavor and higher protein content, challenges remain. Kernza yields are much less than those of conventional wheat, and its grains are much smaller, which could complicate milling and processing.
Lynda Kiernan is Editor with HighQuest Group Media and of the Oilseed & Grain News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at firstname.lastname@example.org.