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Home Grown: From Yuma wheat to Italian pasta

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - In today's Home Grown, Italian cuisine is known for its pasta dishes that are as much local culture, as they are food, but what most people don't know is that the durum wheat grown in Yuma is an essential ingredient in Italian pasta.

Much of Italy’s pasta is made from the the wheat grown in Yuma fields.

This year’s Yuma wheat harvest began just a few days ago.

After harvest, the grain is shipped from Yuma to Houston, Texas and loaded onto a boat to Italy.

From there, the customer receives the wheat and processes it into Pasta.

“The durum wheat we grow in this region is used specifically for the manufacturing of pasta. The wheat grown in the Yuma area is a specific variety that has extremely high gluten strength and that’s what manufactures really good high quality pasta,” said Michael Edgar, Barkley Seed senior vice president.

The majority of Yuma wheat is exported to Italy because of Yuma’s climate and the variety we have to offer.

Barkley Seed Company says the sales are ultimately based on the weight of the grain.

“Everything comes across the scale, gets weighed in and weighed out and that’s how we handle it in our system and it’s all done in tons,” said John Michael Edgar, Barkley Seed production and quality assurance manager.

The desert region ships approximately 150,000 tons of durum wheat to Italy, with Barkley Seed Company being one of the few suppliers in our area.

Michael Edgar says the wheat stays in the same state, from harvest until it reaches the pasta company’s mill.

“So the wheat never changes until it actually arrives in Italy in the mill where they grind it into semolina and make pasta,” said Edgar.

Barkley Seed will be sending their next shipment of wheat to Italy next Wednesday, which will soon become the local cuisine of Italia.

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Samantha Byrd

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