In 1943, Dr. George O. Kohler, published research in The Journal of Biological Chemistry that substantiated Dr. Charles F. Schnabel's earlier research showing how all nutritional values build in the tissue of cereal grasses as they approach the jointing stage, and then more quickly lose their nutrient density as the joint moves up the stem and grows in size.
At Pines we have often pointed customers to this research to provide proof that development of nutritional concentration in wheatgrass and other cereal grasses supports the later development of the grain. In other words, cereal grass is to grain what the the placenta is to the embryo in mammals. Because of that stored nutrition, wheatgrass and other cereal grasses at that once-a-year stage are one of nature's most nutrient dense green foods.
Dr. Kohler's research confirms that cereal grasses needs to be harvested before the joint forms a stem and moves up within it. Once the stem forms, the nutrient density rapidly drops as the stored nutrition of the cereal grass goes toward the growth of the seed. Besides the nutritional concentration, Kohler, Schnabel and other scientists discovered growth and reproductive factors in the unjointed cereal grass which they called, "The Grass Juice Factor." They determined this factor was abundantly found in cereal grass before jointing and that it provided significant improvements in health in all animals tested, including humans. They found the factor quickly drops after jointing.
In fact, when wheatgrass is harvested after the stems form and after the joint starts it's journey, the stems and flag leaves that grow off the stems are not wheatgrass at all. Rather, when a cereal plant is harvested past the jointing stage, it might more correctly be called "green stem with flag leaves" rather than cereal grass.
This picture shows the difference between wheatgrass harvested at the stage Pines harvests it, which is the most nutritious point, compared with when most producers harvest their cereal grasses.
The picture on the left is at the stage Kohler and Schnabel documented as the correct time to harvest the plant for maximum green food nutrition. The picture on the right is when most other companies, except Pines, harvest their wheatgrass. Please look closely at the bottom of each stem shown in the picture on the right, and you will see that the true wheatgrass, which is lush and green in the picture on the left, has been drained of nutrition to feed the seed head that is moving up the stem that has formed. The true wheatgrass has become dried and brown at the bottom of each stem in the picture on the right.
Here is another view of the wheat plant at the post-jointing stage. Again, please notice that the wheatgrass at the bottom of each stem is no longer green.
The wheatgrass at the base of each stem has become dry and drained of nutrition. The stored nutrition in the wheatgrass, which took 200 days to build through a winter of often freezing temperatures, went to make the embryonic seed head (the joint) that is growing inside each stem. If you split open the stem a week after Pines harvests, you can actually see the grain embryo. It has quickly gone from tiny, nearly microscopic in size at the stage when Pines harvests, to a rapidly developing embryonic seed head inside each stem at the stage when other companies harvest.
Here is a picture of one of the stems opened up to expose the embryonic seed head that has been developing thanks to the nutritional concentration that was in the wheatgrass.
As the embryonic seed head becomes larger, the stem develops a wide spot, which you can see in the picture on the left. Using one's fingernail, the stem can be dissected to expose the seed head, which has developed in the picture on the right to about one half inch in length. The reason the seed head can grow so quickly is because of the stored nutrition that was in the wheatgrass.
True wheatgrass contains no gluten. Obviously if a company allows the seed head to develop and move up within a stem, there is going to be gluten present. Some companies solve this gluten problem and excess stem fiber by using aspiration to blow off the stems along with the gluten contained in them, leaving only the flag leaves. Even so, flag leaves are not true wheatgrass. Kohler's research showed that although the flag grass does have some nutritional value, it is not nearly as nutritionally dense as true wheatgrass.
Pines specializes in harvesting only naturally gluten-free true wheatgrass. We do not have to aspirate the stem to get rid of the gluten because when we harvest there is no stem! When we harvest there is also no gluten, and we frequently test to make sure.
The four PDF files below represents a complete copy of Dr. Kohler's research that confirmed Dr. Schnabel's earlier research. Both scientists showed that wheatgrass and other cereal grasses need to be harvested before the growth of the embryonic seed head in order to provide the highest nutritional density. This research was with spring wheat, which reaches the jointing stage at about 30 days. The same kind of data obtained with winter wheat, which reaches the jointing stage at about 200 days after a winter of very slow growth in often freezing temperatures.
Here is a summary of the data from the Kohler research:
The picture below from the YouTube video shows the color of seven products compared to the color Pines Wheat Grass (at the bottom of the plate), which is harvested at the true wheatgrass stage. Please click the start button to watch the video.