At first this merely consisted of purifying and regrinding the middlings made in the old way. In its perfected state it may be said to be halfway between the old style and gradual reduction, and is in use now in many mills. In it mill stones are used to make the reductions which are only two in number, in the first of which the aim of the miller is to make as many middlings as he can while cleaning the bran reasonably well, and in the second to make the purified middlings into flour. In the most advanced mills which use the new process, the bran is reground and the tailings from the coarse middlings, containing germ and large middlings with pieces of bran attached, are crushed between two rolls. These can hardly be counted as reductions, as they are simply the finishing touches, put on to aid in working the stuff up clean and to permit of a little higher grinding at first. Regarding both old style and new process milling, you are already posted. Gradual reduction is newer, much more extensive, and merits a much more thorough explanation. Before entering upon this I will call your attention to one or two points which every miller should understand.

The two essential qualities of a good marketable flour are color and strength. It should be sharply granular and not feel flat and soft to the touch. A wheat which has an abundance of starch, but is poor in gluten, cannot make a strong flour. This is the trouble with all soft wheats, both winter and spring. A wheat which is rich in gluten is hard, and in the case of our hard Minnesota wheat has a very tender bran. It is comparatively easy to make a strong flour, but it requires very careful milling to make a flour of good color from it. Probably the wheat which combines the most desirable qualities for flour-making purposes is the red Mediterranean, which has plenty of gluten and a tough bran, though claimed by some to have a little too much coloring matter, while the body of the berry is white. By poor milling a good wheat can be made into flour deficient both in strength and color, and by careful milling a wheat naturally deficient in strength may be made into flour having all the strength there was in the wheat originally and of good color. Good milling is indispensable, no matter what the quality of the wheat may be.

The idea of gradual reduction milling was borrowed by our millers from the Hungarian mills. There is, however, this difference between the Hungarian system and gradual reduction, as applied in this country, that in the former, when fully carried out, the products of the different breaks are kept separate to the end, and a large number of different grades of flour made, while in the system, as applied in this country, the separations are combined at different stages and usually only three different grades of flour made, viz.: patent, baker's, or as it is termed in Minnesota, clear flour, and low grade or red dog. In the largest mills the patent is often subdivided into first and second, and they may make different grades of baker's flour, these mills approaching much nearer to the Hungarian system, though modifying it to American methods and machinery. In mills of from three to five hundred barrels daily capacity, it is hardly possible or profitable to go to this subdivision of grades, owing to the excessive amount of machinery necessary to handling the stuff in its different stages of completion. The Hungarian system has, therefore, been greatly modified by American millers and milling engineers to adapt it to the requirements of mills of average capacity. This modified Hungarian system we call gradual reduction. It can be profitably employed in any mill large enough to run at all on merchant work. So far it has not been found practicable to use it in mills of less than one hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and fifty barrels capacity in twenty-four hours, and it is better to have the mill of at least double this capacity.

Gradual reduction, as its name implies, consists in reducing the wheat to flour, shorts, and bran, by several successive operations or reductions technically called breaks, the process going on gradually, each break leaving the material a little finer than the preceding one. Usually five reductions or breaks are made, though six or seven may be used. The larger the number of breaks the more complicated the system becomes, and it is preferable to keep it as simple as possible, for even at its simplest it requires a good, wide-awake thinking miller to handle it successfully. When it is thoroughly and systematically carried out in the mill it is without question as much in advance of the new process as that is ahead of the old style of milling.

In order that I may convey to you as clear an idea of gradual milling reduction as possible, I will give as fully as possible the programme of a mill of one hundred and fifty barrels maximum daily capacity designed to work on mixed hard and soft spring wheat, and which probably will come much nearer to meeting the conditions under which you have to mill than any other I have found readily obtainable. I have chosen a mill of this size, first, because following out the programme of a larger one would require too much time and too great a repetition of details and not give you any clearer idea of the main principles involved, and secondly, because I thought it would come nearer meeting the average requirements of the members of your association. Your worthy secretary cautioned me that I must remember that I was going to talk to winter wheat millers. The main principles and methods of gradual reduction are the same, whether applied to spring or winter wheat; the details may have to be varied to suit the varying conditions under which different mills are operated. For this programme I am indebted to Mr. James Pye, of Minneapolis, who is rapidly gaining an enviable and well deserved reputation as a milling engineer, and one who has given much study to the practical planning and working of gradual reduction mills.