Shoppers who purchase Hudson Cream flour in Pratt are getting a product milled and probably grown within 40 miles of home and possibly including some wheat produced right in Pratt County. They will pay a few cents more for the Stafford County Flour Mills premium brand; bargain hunters who purchase Kroger flour at the local Dillons store may be getting a local product.


Shoppers who purchase Hudson Cream flour in Pratt are getting a product milled and probably grown within 40 miles of home and possibly including some wheat produced right in Pratt County. They will pay a few cents more for the Stafford County Flour Mills premium brand; bargain hunters who purchase Kroger flour at the local Dillons store may be getting a local product.

The flour mill, located in Hudson, a town of less than 100 residents, has thrived for 104 years because of a commitment to excellence, the availability of a hard red winter wheat and the development of a profitable niche market, according to President Alvin Brensing, who joined the company 71 years ago as a bookkeeper.

The company was started in 1904 by German immigrant Gustav Krug and his brother-in-law, Otto Sondregger. When the quantity and quality of wheat received at the elevator in Hudson and at company-owned locations in Macksville and Sylvia is sufficient, there is no reason to go outside the area. If the yield is poor or protein content is low, they will look to other areas to ensure a consistent product, Brensing said.

Hudson Cream flour, milled by a short-patent process to produce a finer texture than all-purpose flour, is sold in Dillons stores in Kansas. The mill also produces flour under other labels, including Kroger and King Arthur. Last week, a pallet of Kemach high gluten flour was awaiting shipment to a Jewish market in New York. A pallet of Fresh and Easy organic flour would head to the west coast. Ten to 15 tractor-trailer rigs travel the county blacktop to the mill each week.

By far the biggest market is in West Virginia and surrounding states.
There’s an interesting story behind that.

In 1922, Leila English Reid, born and raised near Macksville, moved to West Virginia with her husband. In the course of time, her mother came to visit, bringing sacks of Hudson Cream flour with her, because Leila hadn’t been satisfied with the flour she found locally. The women baked biscuits for the local grocer and convinced him to accept a train car shipment of their favorite flour.

“Don’t underestimate the influence of a couple of good women,” Brensing advised.
A small mill on the Kansas prairie gets attention from the milling giants.

When a new piece of equipment was installed seven years ago to pack five-pound sacks, it was one of a kind, said Randy Watson, who is in charge of food safety and quality control. Representatives from Cargill, ADM and Con Agra came to Hudson to check it out.

As homemakers know, keeping bugs out of flour can be a challenge. Stafford County Flour Mills has a system that includes a five-hour cleaning process every weekend, followed by fogging with a food-grade insecticide made from chrysanthemum flowers. Special pheromone traps catch any residual bugs for DNA testing to see if they’re a new colony or relatives of previous bugs. From November through April, not a single bug was found in a trap, Watson said.

“The Association of Operative Millers couldn’t believe it,” he said. “A little old flour mill here in the middle of nowhere has started to dictate insect control and modified cleaning maintenance of large flour mills.”

The original wooden mill burned to the ground in 1913 and was replaced by a concrete structure a year later. Storage capacity has increased through the years to more than 3 million bushels, the plant is fully automated and new products have been added to meet demand. In 1986 the Krug family was ready to retire and without a family member of the next generation to take over, considered selling the company. Several members of the community, concerned that selling to a large company would mean a loss of jobs and a possibility of the mill closing, formed a holding company to purchase the controlling interest. The mill employs about 35 year-round workers, more during harvest time and at peak baking times like Thanksgiving through Christmas, Brensing said.

“The flour mill was built 104 years ago not to produce a good flour, but the best flour and we’ve tried to maintain that,” Watson said.

There are other reasons for its success.

“If there’s ever a problem you talk to the person in charge of quality control — that’s me,” he continued. “You don’t talk to a machine.”

“Women like the product,” Brensing said, as he shared a letter from a third-generation customer who wrote, “The things we pass down in our family are good morals, good cooking, and Hudson Cream flour!”