The highest quality cereal grasses are those that were developed for climates with freezing winter temperatures such as northeastern Kansas. For the greatest nutritional density, the seed needs to be planted in cool weather with chilly nighttime temperatures. Warm soil and cool air induce the plant to use the reserves in the seed to produce foot-deep roots, not long leaves. "Short shoots and long roots" in the initial stages are essential to develop strong plants.
Based on more than 80 years of data and several careful scientific studies, we know that wheatgrass and other cereal grass products have the highest nutritional level when grown slowly in cool temperatures. Even in freezing weather, when snow covers the fields, the roots are active underground. With cool temperatures and many weeks of bright sunshine, the plant does not grow much in height but instead builds a nutrient-dense reserve to support the later development of grain.
When maximum levels of protein and other vegetable nutrients have been reached and other conditions are correct, a nearly microscopic a embryonic seed head begins it's journey to maturity. This tiny embryo has been developing slowly in the roots inside a "womb" called "the boot," When conditions are right, the embryo begins moving up, growing in size, encased within a developing stalk.
The beginning of this process is called the "jointing stage." This is the time when quality cereal grass reaches its maximum nutrient density and is the time when Schnabel and the other scientists said cereal grass should be harvested. After that point, the high level of nutrition in the green part of the plant quickly drops. That's because that reserve of nutrition in the cereal grass goes to support the growth of the embryonic grain and for "flag leaves" on all sides of the developing stalk.
"Flag grass" has some value but not nearly as much nutrition as true cereal grass. With slow growth in cool weather, cereal grass is a solar collector that can convert hundreds of days of sunlight into one of the most nutrient dense dark green vegetables ever documented, but it has to be harvested during only a few days at the jointing stage to capture that nutritional density.
Dr. Schnabel and the other scientists determined in repeated studies that the highest nutrition level occurs for only for a few days, just as the embryo (the joint) begins its journey and growth. It is important to harvest at that stage; otherwise, the cereal grass is drained of nutrients that are used to help the embryo grow hundreds of times in size and emerge at the top of the stalk as a fully developed shaft of grain. With each day that passes after the beginning of the jointing stage, the green food nutrition drops significantly. Pines' family farmers are trained to monitor the development of the embryonic seed head as it develops in the boot. When It starts its journey, and the plant begins to develop a stalk, our crew gets ready for action.
What about Gluten?
Although most cereal grains do not contain gluten, for wheatgrass, our crews are especially careful to cut above the joint to make sure gluten from the growing embryo does not up in the product. Gluten in wheat bread and other baked wheat goods is 100,000 parts per million. A large part of our production of wheatgrass is usually below 20 ppm, which is the FDA standard for using a gluten-free statement on food labels. Through independent laboratory tests, we document the gluten level for every 1,000 kilo pharmaceutical super sack that we produce. Our data indicate that a field can go from less than 20 ppm of gluten to slightly above that in one day's time. That's how fast things change at the jointing stage.
From these tests, we have also learned that whole food wheatgrass in the 20 to 45 ppm gluten range has a higher nutritional level than product that is less than 20 ppm. Here's why: At this slightly higher level, 99.9% of the plants are at the perfect stage as documented by Schnabel and the other scientists. Their seed head are well below the cutting heads of the harvesting machine and will cause no rise in gluten.. What a gluten level slightly above 20 ppm really means is that about one plant out of one thousand was a little farther along in the jointing process than the others, and its embryonic seed head was above the cutting blades on the harvesting machine.
To ensure less than 20 ppm, we have to harvest before the joint begins to move out of the "boot." The boot is the ovary where the embryonic seed head developes. This means harvesting the field a little earlier than Dr. Schnabel would have recommended. The nutritional level is not as high as it could be, but we have learned if we harvest at that stage, the product will meet the FDA standard of less than 20 ppm..
As an ingredient customer, if you are producing a 100% wheatgrass product that needs to meet the FDA gluten standard, you will want to purchase from our lots that test below 20 ppm. If you are mixing the wheatgrass with other ingredients that have little or no gluten, you should purchase wheatgrass that is between 20 and 45 ppm. The price is a considerably lower, and the nutritional density is higher.
Because we harvest at the jointing stage, our total cereal grass production per acre is always less than 500 pounds per acre. Other producers let their wheatgrass be drained of nutrition to form flag grass and then use an aspirator to blow off the seed head and stalk that encases it. That method also can result in a lower gluten level. It also increases the yield to 2,000 pounds per acre or more, but the color is not as good, and technically it isn't wheatgrass. It is "flag grass." For more information about this deceptive practice of late cutting and aspiration, please click the "About" tab and scroll down to the last article on the page.
After being compressed into pellets, our organic whole food cereal grasses and alfalfa are stored at below zero Celsius in underground, man-made, limestone caves packaged in nitrogen-flushed pharmaceutical super sacks made with tough skin and then protected with several layers of thick plastic bags.. Along with freezing, the inert nitrogen in the sack is an an extra precaution against oxidation. The pellets are kept frozen until needed for our ingredient customers. We can mill the pellets to your specification, including ultra fine grinds, and we can also ship pellets at considerable discount if you wish to do the milling at your facility.
Our cereal grasses and alfalfa are directly harvested using specialized equipment. The freshly clipped leaves are stored in the machine itself. They never touch the ground. Within an hour after harvesting, the leaves have been dried at low temperatures. The temperature of the product leaving the dehydration drum is dependent mostly on the general temperature of the weather on the day of harvest. Temperatures of green powder right after dehydration can range between 60 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the weather. Unlike other producers, we do not use an old drier designed years ago for animal feed. Our modern, exclusively organic, human-food, stainless-steel dehydrators utilizes state-of-the-art, touch-screen, computer controls with the latest technology. This allows us to dry at much lower temperatures than the antiquated facilities. That requires less energy is needed and a much lower carbon footprint.
We still use one of Dr. Scnnabel's laboratories that he built in 1935. Of course, we use much different looking laboratory equipment today than he and the other scientists used, but we still treasure some of his original equipment and proudly display it in the office outside of the laboratory..
Samples from every 1,000 kilo pharmaceutical super sack are are screened for pathogens, yeast, mold and plate counts at the time of harvest and prior to shipment to your facility. Samples are also tested for heavy metals, gluten, protein, beta-carotene, nitrates and other nutritional markers.
We can provide you with an a dazzling amount of data and documentation as well as the best quality whole food cereal grass and alfalfa pellets and powder available anywhere. milled to your specifications. We are looking forward to working with you to help your create new products and/or improve the green of your present products.
How Pines Produces Extremely High Quality Wheat Grass, Barley Grass, Oat Grass, Rye Grass and Alfalfa
Please open the "Contact" tab and call or write Cindie. Cindie has worked with Pines' ingredient customers for 23 years as a Pines' team member. She can help you with shipping and with any certificates and documents you may need. Working with our organic farmers, quality control and laboratory personnel, Cindie will provide you with timely, thorough and accurate information.
One reason Pines cereal grasses and alfalfa are so much greener and so much more nutritious than other whole food greens is our soil. There is only one region in Kansas that has the prized glacial soils used in the research on wheatgrass and other cereal grasses. Those soils are in the northeastern corner of the State. This is where Charles Schnabel and other scientists grew the cereal grass for the phenomenal body of medical and scientific research beginning in 1932. It is also one of the few places in Kansas that receives enough rainfall that Pines has never needed to use irrigation from potentially contaminated ground water sources. These perfect soils and climatic conditions extend up through to the Great Lakes.
Even though we are blessed to be stewards of some of the best soils on the planet, we do not take our blessing for granted. Each year, we conduct extensive soil tests, add minerals that may be low and use the finest organic fertilizers and compost along with organic crop rotation between legumes and cereal grass.
Other producers seem hesitant to show pictures of their actual dehydrators and the equipment in them and instead show pictures of what they do with the dehydrated pellets, At Pines, we are of proud of not only our tableting and final milling equipment for the pellets, we are also are proud of our dehydrators that produce them.
Unlike drying facilities built for animal feeds, our facilities consist of stainless steel collectors, duct work, hammer mills and pellet mills. The hammer mills we use in the drying facilities convert the leaves into a powder. a picture is shown above (both with and without a screen). After the leaves are milled, the powder is then compressed into tight pellets which prevents oxidation during frozen storage. The other picture is the conditioner used in our stainless steel pellet mill.
There are two hammer mills involved in producing whole food cereal grasses and alfalfa. The hammermill that is sometimes shown by other producers is the one used for milling the pellets back into powder after storage. We use a stainless steel hammer mill for that, too, and a picture of that hammermill is is shown below; however, the one above is the hammer mill in the dehydrator itself.
Even though producers show stainless steel hammer mills they use convert pellets back to powder, how were the pellets made in the first place? Most producers obtain their raw pellets from facilities that were built as animal feed alfalfa dehydrators. The hammermills, pellet mills, ductwork and collectors in old animal feed dehydrators are likely not stainless steel. That's probably why they are usually not pictured on their website or in their literature. Conventional steel rusts, erodes and can contaminate a product. Stainless steel is easy to clean and sterilize prior to use. For more information on animal feed driers versus Pines modern equipment for natural food products, please see the "Equipment" tab..