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Pilot flour mill renovation celebrated with ribbon cutting

Northern Crops Institute celebrated its new pilot flour mill with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 24. Institute director Brian Sorenson kicked off the event that included comments from special guests including North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, NDSU Vice President of Agriculture and University Extension D.C. Coston, Buhler North America President René Steiner and representatives of regional wheat commissions.

Guests toured the mill after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. A dinner was held following the event.

“In 2007, the Northern Crops Council formed a committee to look at the future of Northern Crops Institute’s technical capabilities in milling, and they identified a definite need for a mill of this capacity,” said Sorenson. “The committee decided to review the existing equipment, and they determined that we had a great asset in our pilot durum mill. Using the existing durum mill equipment as a starting point for the new mill sped up the project as well as kept the overall costs down.”

“The Northern Crops Council voted to move forward with the project at their November 2008 meeting. To go from a project design to a completed installation in a year was a testament to the Northern Crops Institute staff, the Northern Crops Council, as well as to Buhler, who helped us put this project together,” Sorenson concluded.

Gifts from the South Dakota Wheat Commission, North Dakota Wheat Commission, Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council, General Mills, Horizon Milling and several individuals partially funded the renovation. Buhler donated an optical color sorter, which can detect and remove defective product and foreign material in wheat.

“Northern Crops Institute’s new flour mill represents another great opportunity to promote northern-grown crops and create new and expanded domestic and international markets for producers in the region,” said Hoeven.

“This project is the result of a strong partnership between North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana and a steadfast commitment to growing the agriculture and value-added processing industries in our states, as well as enhancing our competitiveness in marketing commodities worldwide,” Hoeven concluded.

The institute’s pilot durum mill was converted into a dual-purpose or “swing mill” to give the region the capability to mill pilot-scale or test-scale quantities of bread wheats into flour for quality and test baking/processing evaluations. The mill retains the capability to mill durum wheat into high-quality semolina.

The new mill is capable of milling flour, durum semolina and whole-wheat flour.  Flour milling capacity of the new mill is 200-300 pounds per hour, a larger quantity than a laboratory scale mill can produce. Flour quality closely matches flour from a commercial flourmill.

In addition to milling and testing flour, the new pilot mill will be used for educating millers about hard wheats. The institute’s pilot-scale durum mill, built in 1991, was one of the few facilities in the nation dedicated specifically to educating and training durum millers.

The existing building and much of the pilot-scale durum mill equipment was used in building the new mill. Additional equipment to improve grain handling, cleaning, tempering and purifying was purchased or donated.

The next phase of the renovation will begin when funding is secured. The second phase will include a flour mixer, storage bin and flour packing equipment that will fill 50 pound bags.

The institute is conducting a nationwide search for a full-time milling specialist.

The institute supports regional agriculture and value-added processing by conducting educational and technical programs that expand and maintain domestic and international markets for northern-grown crops. Funding is provided by the states of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota and commodity groups in those states and Montana. 

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North Dakota State University
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