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Durum Wheat Improvement

Elias photo
Elias M. Elias, Durum Wheat Breeder
Office: Loftsgard Hall 374A
Phone: (701) 231-8159

Watch: NDSU Durum Project

Among all cultivated wheats, Triticum aestivum and Triticum durum are the most important cereal crops in the world.  Durum wheat is a minor crop, grown on only 8 to 10% of all the wheat cultivated area.  The remaining area is cultivated with hexaploid bread wheat.

Durum wheat is better adapted to semiarid climates than is bread wheat.   The world's durum wheat acreage and production is concentrated in the Middle East, North Africa, the former USSR, the North American Great Plains, India, and Mediterranean Europe.  Durum is a spring wheat, although winter durum is grown.  In spite of its low acreage, durum wheat is an economically important crop because of its unique characteristics and end products.  It is generally considered the hardiest of all wheats. Durum kernels are usually large, golden amber, and translucent.

Durum Field

These characteristics, along with its protein content and gluten strength, make it suitable for manufacturing diverse food products.  Pasta is the most common durum end product consumed in Europe, North America, and the former USSR.   Products other than pasta are also made from durum wheat.  Couscous, made from durum semolina, is consumed mainly in North Africa.  Flat bread made from durum wheat and bulgur are part of the main diet in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

The quality of durum wheat is highly correlated with the quality of its end products.   Durum wheat, with its high kernel weight, test weight, protein content, and gluten strength, is known to be associated with the firmness and resiliency of the cooked pasta products and the stability of cooking.

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