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Triticale Catches On For Bakers, Breweries And Distilleries
Makers of beer, ale, spirits and bread in the Pacific Northwest have a new flavor available to them thanks to the triticale grown by a Washington family. Success with a “new” crop is all about smart marketing, added value, and personal connections, according to James and Rena Wahl and their children, Dane and Maya.
  The journey began when James Wahl switched from growing wheat to growing triticale for a seed contract and found it was a good alternative. Triticale is a blend of Durham wheat and rye that is high in protein and lysine, so it is often used as feed for poultry and hogs.
  After becoming friends with a local maltster, it occurred to Wahl that since both malted rye and wheat are used in beers, triticale might be good, too. So he took some to have malted (a process that includes steeping the grain till germination begins and then drying it). The maltster made beer with it, and it was good, Wahl says.
  “I put the malted triticale in Ziploc bags and knocked on brewery and distillery doors leaving homemade business cards,” says Wahl, a former Seattle commercial photographer.
  The outreach worked, and he found customers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington states. Including triticale (25 to 38 percent) adds a floral, spicy finish to beverages. Because it is more complex than barley it also adds richness to the spirits being made.
  Wahl, with the help of his daughter’s social media writing, is building the farm business. MJW Grain Inc. is expanding into other markets, including bread bakers and potentially a power bar company.
  “Our farm grows 3,000 acres of crops, and I’m hoping that 20 percent sells as value-added,” Wahl says. That can net 100 to 200 percent of market prices on average with the current low market prices. With the business just getting started, Wahl says he is willing to sell triticale and malted triticale one bag at a time or deliver it himself with a 2-ton truck to customers in the region.
  Which leads to another benefit of his value-added market.
  “Before, our crop went to make Ramen noodles. I didn’t like the disconnect when it left the farm. I wanted to know my end users and work with artisan products,” Wahl says. “Now clients have turned into friends, and we are interacting with their families, and there is something rewarding about that.”
  In addition to local sales to businesses, Wahl sells to a grower who uses triticale to grow mushrooms. And, he is developing a market shipping larger tonnage by truck to places such as New Orleans.
  With his children part of the operation, the farm is in its fifth generation, and Wahl says finding a way to keep it sustainable is important. Developing a value-added market with personal relationships is a bonus.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, MJW Grain Inc., P.O. Box 277, Ritzville, Wash. 99169 (ph 509 660-1100; www.mjwgraininc.com; james@mjwgraininc.com).

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #4