1 Corresponding author. USDA ARS Western Wheat Quality Lab. E-202 Food Quality Building, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, U.S.A.
2 Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, U.S.A. Affiliated with the Western Wheat Quality Lab.
Whereas hard kernel wheats are used for yeast-leavened breads, soft wheats are used for cookies, cakes, and confections. The U.S. Pacific Northwest produces 6.5–7 Mt of soft white wheat annually. This soft white grain is marketed as either “common” soft white, “club,” or a blend of the two. Breeding new cultivars of soft white wheat requires an understanding of the foods that are best suited to this class and of the physical and chemical properties of grain and flour that contribute to consistent, superior consumer products. The Pacific Northwest Wheat Quality Council facilitates communication among wheat breeders, millers, food manufacturers, and farmers to identify and define soft white wheat quality targets. Soft white wheat exhibits high break and straight-grade flour yields, at low ash and low starch damage. Their flours have low water absorption and low water-, carbonate-, and sucrose-solvent retention capacities. Soft white wheat produces large-diameter cookies and sponge cakes with large volumes and tender, fine crumb grain. Gluten strength of soft white common wheat ranges from moderately weak to moderately strong. Club wheats are uniformly weak. Innovations in soft white wheat include soft kernel durum wheat, “super soft” wheat, partial waxy wheat for noodles, and full waxy wheat for puffing and unique processing. The subject of whole wheat flavor is explored for the breeding and selection of soft white wheat.