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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is the industry’s market development organization working in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to “develop, maintain and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers and their customers.” USW activities are funded by producer checkoff dollars managed by 18 state wheat commissions and USDA Foreign Agricultural Service cost-share programs. For more information, visit or contact your state wheat commission. Stakeholders may reprint original articles from Wheat Letter with source attribution. Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe to Wheat Letter.

In This Issue:
1. 2015/16 HRW Quality Offers Excellent Value
2. Drought, Heat Stress Revealed in 2015/16 Soft White Quality
3. 2015 World Food Prize, Borlaug Dialogue Continues Focus on Achieving Food Security
4. IPO Provides Valuable Resources; Leads Conversation on Pasta
5. Wheat Growers Initiate Plan to Increase Productivity
6. Wheat Industry News

Online Edition: Wheat Letter – October 22, 2015

PDF Edition: (See Attached) (See attached file: Wheat Letter - October 22, 2015.pdf)

USW Crop Quality Reports:

1. 2015/16 HRW Quality Offers Excellent Value

The USW 2015/16 hard red winter (HRW) crop quality survey is complete and shows that, once again, wheat farmers across 16 states have grown a crop that provides the characteristics buyers need to meet the growing global demand for high quality baked goods and other wheat foods.

Though they seeded less wheat this year, farmers produced more HRW than in 2014/15. Widely varying growing conditions helped, but also resulted in more quality variation than is normally found in this class. For more information about how weather and harvest conditions affected the new U.S HRW crop, see Harvest Reveals Better HRW Yields, Quality; USDA Sees Bigger Total Supply in the July 2, 2015, issue of “Wheat Letter.”

This year, the USDA ARS Hard Winter Wheat Quality Lab and Plains Grains, Inc., collected and analyzed 500 samples from the 12 states making up the Gulf and PNW tributary regions. USW’s partner organizations determined grade and non-grade factors on each sample. They also performed functionality tests on 95 composite samples representing different growing areas and these protein ranges: less than 11.5 percent (12 percent mb), 11.5 percent to 12.5 percent, and more than 12.5 percent.

Wheat and Grade Data. The final average HRW grade for 2015/16 is U.S. No. 2, with 76 percent of samples grading U.S. No. 2 or better compared to 67 percent in the Gulf tributary and 89 percent in the PNW tributary. The overall average test weight is 59.0 lbs/bu (77.6kg/hl) which is below the minimum for U.S. No. 1 and below recent averages. The average dockage of 0.8 percent is above last year’s 0.4 percent and the 5-year average of 0.5 percent. Total defects of 1.8 percent are also slightly higher than 2014 and the 5-year average. The overall average thousand kernel weight of 29.6 g is above the 5-year average of 29.1 g, but below last year’s 30.7. Average kernel diameter of 2.59 mm is similar to both last year’s average and the 5-year average. The average protein of 12.4 percent is lower than 2014 and slightly lower than the 5-year average of 12.7 percent. Kernels are generally smaller in the higher protein southern region and larger with lower protein to the north. Approximately 22 percent of samples were less than 11.5 percent protein, 41 percent between 11.5 percent and 12.5 percent, and 37 percent above 12.5 percent. The average falling number of 400 seconds indicates a sound wheat.

Flour and Baking Data. The overall Buhler Laboratory Mill flour yield averages 74.1 percent, comparable to the 2014 average of 73.9 percent but above the 5-year average of 73.3 percent. Average flour ash content exceeds 2014 and the 5-year average. Protein loss during flour conversion averaged 0.7 percent (14 percent mb), which is below the 5-year average loss of 1.0 percent. The W value of 214 (10-4 J) is significantly below 2014’s 266 and the 5-year average of 250. Overall, average bake absorption of 62.5 percent is lower than 2014’s 63.7 percent, but is higher than the 5-year average of 61.8 percent. Farinograph peak time and stability of 4.8 min and 6.9 min, respectively, are both significantly lower than last year and the 5-year average. Overall, average loaf volume of 870 cc is somewhat higher than 2014’s 859 cc and significantly higher than the 5-year average of 825 cc.

U.S. wheat farmers, through their state commission membership in USW, and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service fund the annual crop quality survey of all six U.S. wheat classes. Regional HRW reports, along with regional reports for all six U.S. wheat classes, are posted and USW’s 2015 Crop Quality Report will be available soon at USW will also share the results of the survey with hundreds of overseas customers at several upcoming events, including USW's annual crop quality seminars. Buyers are encouraged to construct specifications carefully to be sure they receive qualities that meet their needs.

2. Drought, Heat Stress Revealed in 2015/16 Soft White Quality

U.S. soft white (SW) wheat is produced primarily in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) so most of the exportable supply is uniformly affected by growing conditions, which were mainly hot and dry again for the 2015/16 crop. As a result, this is a sound crop characterized by higher than average protein with less than average test weight, kernel size and kernel weight.

USW worked with state and private grain inspection agencies and commercial grain handlers to collect 448 SW and 111 white club (WC) samples plus 3 composite samples (including one from white club). The Wheat Marketing Center analyzed the wheat and flour quality from the samples. The wheat commissions of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, USW, and many other wheat industry organizations, supported this program. Following is a summary of SW data and selected WC data. The complete SW class report is now posted at, as well as regional reports for other U.S. wheat classes, and USW will soon share all results at its annual Crop Quality Seminars.

Wheat and Grade Data. The average grade for both SW and WC is U.S. No. 2 SW because of lower test weight. The SW and WC test weights of 59.3 lbs/bu (78.0 kg/hl) and 58.3 lbs/bu (76.8 kg/hl), respectively, are both well below past averages. Shrunken and broken kernels and dockage averages are higher this year but similar to 5-year averages, while moisture content for both are below 2014 and 5-year averages. SW protein (12 percent mb) of 10.9 percent is the same as last year (the 5-year average is 10.0 percent) but WC protein of 11.7 percent is higher than last year and the 5-year average of 10.2 percent, which is reflected in premiums for lower protein specifications. The high protein segment of the SW crop provides opportunities in blends for Asian noodles, steamed breads, flat breads and pan breads.

Flour, Dough and Baking Data. The Buhler Laboratory Mill flour extraction for SW of 72.6 percent is less than 2014 and the 5-year average. SW and WC flour protein contents (14 percent mb) are 9.5 percent and 10.2 percent, respectively. Flour ash content for SW is lower than 2014 and similar to the 5-year average. SW and WC flour falling numbers are 397 and 417 seconds, and amylograph peak viscosity values are 629 and 647 BU, respectively. SW SRC sucrose and lactic acid values are similar to 2014 and higher than the 5-year averages; the sodium carbonate value is lower than 2014 but similar to the 5-year average; GPI is slightly higher than 2014 and the 5-year average. WC SRC for all solvents and GPI is similar to last year and 5-year averages.

SW farinograph peak and stability times show slightly stronger gluten properties than 2014 and the 5-year averages. SW has shorter alveograph L values than 2014 and the 5-year average. SW extensograph extensibility is shorter than 2014 but longer than the 5-year average. SW sponge cake volume at 1266 cc is bigger than last year and 5-year averages. SW cookie diameter is slightly larger than last year and similar to the 5-year average. SW and WC cookie spread factors are greater than last year, but smaller than 5-year averages.

USW’s crop quality reports and the skilled service from your local or regional USW office will be particularly valuable this marketing year. Because our organization only represents the wheat farmers who help fund our work, you can be confident that USW provides service and technical support with your best interests in mind.

3. 2015 World Food Prize, Borlaug Dialogue Continues Focus on Achieving Food Security
By Elizabeth Westendorf, USW Policy Specialist

Every year, leaders in agriculture, international development and food security gather in Des Moines, IA, to celebrate the World Food Prize award, referred to by many as the Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture. This year’s World Food Prize Laureate was Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson of BRAC, formerly known as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. BRAC is the world’s largest non-governmental organization and works in 11 countries, including Bangladesh. Sir Abed devoted much of his work to the social and economic empowerment of women, a challenge emphasized by speakers at this year’s Borlaug Dialogue, the symposium that accompanies the World Food Prize. These annual events honor the work of Dr. Norman Borlaug, renowned wheat scientist,Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Iowa native.

Presentations at the Borlaug Dialogue this year connected agricultural development and the notion that empowering women in food insecure areas can often have a disproportionately large effect on economic development. Speakers included Chelsea Clinton; Howard G. Buffett; U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; former President of the Republic of Malawi Joyce Banda; the first World Food Prize Laureate M.S. Swaminathan; and President of Oxfam America, Raymond Offenheiser. Topics ranged from precision agriculture and new technologies to helping women farmers and encouraging agricultural extension in Africa, with an eye on helping agricultural productivity and international development keep pace with population growth.

The World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogue do an outstanding job focusing on the complex interplay of issues that affect global food security efforts. Each year the programs manage to touch on nutrition, agricultural productivity, sustainability and the need for innovation to increase food production responsibly. Sir Abed himself this year called on Dialogue’s participants to “make good use of the breathing space of the green revolution to disrupt the cycles of food insecurity forever.”

U.S. wheat farmers know that all these topics will need attention if we are to feed our ever-growing world population in sustainable ways. Conservation agriculture, biotechnology, advanced breeding and open, consistent trade flows are all necessary to fight the constant threat of food insecurity. The World Food Prize, more than any other meeting or organization, celebrates this necessary collaboration and recognizes pioneers and leaders in all these fields.

USW congratulates World Food Prize Laureate, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, and thanks the World Food Prize for its continued devotion to recognizing leaders in the fight against hunger. As Dr. Borlaug said, “If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time, cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace.” Read more in Wheat Industry News.

4. IPO Provides Valuable Resources; Leads Conversation on Pasta

This month, the world is celebrating pasta. In the United States, this is National Pasta Month, while on the international level, Oct. 25 marks World Pasta Day. The International Pasta Organization (IPO) is a leader in advancing consumer understanding of the nutritional value and health benefits of pasta, as well as promoting the pasta industry around the globe. USW actively supports IPO and its initiatives ¯ because high quality pasta begins with the reliable, high quality supply of U.S. durum.

This year, IPO launched new initiatives in preparation for the fifth edition of its World Pasta Day and Congress, Oct. 25 to 27, 2015, in Milan, Italy. The most important initiative is the IPO communications plan, The Truth About Pasta, to help the industry promote the benefits of pasta as part of a healthy diet. Another objective of the campaign is to debunk misconceptions about the role of carbohydrate nutrition. IPO built a kit of communications tools designed to connect pasta with a healthy lifestyle, including monthly newsletters, social media content and other materials in multiple languages.

The Truth About Pasta program highlights five reasons consumers can continue to enjoy pasta as a tasty part of a healthy diet to help manage weight and prevent disease:
  1. Pasta is good for you and the planet;
  2. Pasta is the pillar of the Mediterranean Diet;
  3. Pasta is energy that keeps you fuller for longer;
  4. Pasta does not make you fat;
  5. Pasta is tasty and brings people together

You and your customers can follow the IPO conversation this month on social media using #WorldPastaDay and #NationalPastaMonth. USW is sharing this content every day at and In the Oct. 8, 2015, issue of “Wheat Letter,” USW also highlighted the latest U.S. Northern Durum and Desert Durum® supply and demand outlook and has posted new durum crop quality data at

5. Wheat Growers Initiate Plan to Increase Productivity
By Ed Maixner, © Agri-Pulse, Oct. 14, 2105, Excerpts Reprinted with Permission

After watching U.S. wheat acreage and production slide steadily for 18 years, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) has had quite enough and is coming out swinging.

The counteroffensive, called simply the Wheat Action Plan, “right now is conceptual,” says NAWG President Brett Blankenship, a grower in eastern Washington State. “We’re reaching out to all parts of the industry,” he says. “The idea is … to raise productivity so that wheat no longer loses acreage to corn and soybeans.”

Blankenship points to … Norman Borlaug’s work in the mid-20th Century to improve wheat yield and disease resistance.

“We had the first Green Revolution, and it revolutionized the production of wheat. We need another one. We need another step forward, and the Wheat Action Plan is the attempt to invigorate the investment we need … to go to the next level for wheat.”

That task is broad, but he says it means, first, improving on-farm productivity so that wheat is a more attractive crop economically. Then, “we need to double down on research … and we will elicit private technology companies to take a look at wheat and bring all technology to bear.”

USDA crop data shows that average annual yields of other major crops have risen smartly over the decades. This year’s expected all class U.S. wheat yield (43.6 bushels per acre) is just 16 percent more than in 1985, while that for corn is up 42 percent; soybeans, 38 percent; long-grain rice, 43 percent, upland cotton, 24 percent, and sugar beets, 48 percent.

Though the work of wheat researchers and others has improved wheat’s disease resistance and yields over the decades, NAWG calculates that for every $10 spent on public and private industry corn research in 2014 only 70 cents went into wheat research.

Steve Joehl, NAWG director of research, says that wheat used to dominate acreage in the eastern Great Plains, but varietal advances for corn and soybeans have now made those the top crops in that region.

“The first state that really adopted biotechnology in corn was [eastern] South Dakota,” he said. “That happened because the Bt gene for corn borer control was so effective … and the borer was killing farmers there on yield.” But as the 20th Century ended, growers there started seeding varieties with YieldGard borer control and saw their acreage and productivity soar as yields shot up, he said.

Recently, he says, Dupont, Monsanto and others announced heavy investment in 70- to 80-day corn varieties that will yield well in southern Canada as well as in northern areas of the U.S., Russia, Hungary and elsewhere. The new corn genetics “will take away wheat acreage,” he says.

Needed genetic improvements for wheat are countless, but developing strong resistance to fusarium head blight, called scab, could be a huge gain because the disease hurts wheat coast to coast, Joehl says. Coming up, he notes, is an update by North Dakota State University on the fight against scab, to be presented to grower groups, researchers, millers, food processors and others who will focus on the scab problem at a national forum in St. Louis in December.

Blankenship says that for his own low-rainfall farming area, “improved rust resistance in the high moisture years, drought tolerance and a breakthrough in yield” are at the top of his wish list. “Our yields have been rather stagnant my entire career,” he says.

He says boosting research investment by private industry, Congress and state legislatures will be a challenge, “but one of the collateral problems for loss of wheat production is the way wheat pays for research through the state-by-state patchwork of commissions” that oversee the wheat checkoff programs. “When production falls, you have less funds to invest in research,” he notes.

NAWG will also support the political fight to secure Congress’ OK for the newly inked Trans Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade pact that is supported by large farm commodity groups who expect to see reduced obstacles to sales in TPP countries. Blankenship notes that 85 percent of wheat grown in the U.S. Pacific Northwest is exported, so any reduced barriers mean extra demand for his crop.

6. Wheat Industry News
  • Subscribe to USW Reports. USW has added a “Subscribe” menu at where visitors may subscribe to this newsletter, the weekly Price Report and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October.) Click here to subscribe.
  • By-Class Crop Quality Reports Are Now Available for the 2015 HRS, HRW, SW and hard white wheat, SRW, California hard red winter wheat, Desert Durum and Northern durum wheat crops at
  • CropLife International Launches New Communications Resources. Its new blog features stories, thought-leader insights and news about sustainable development, economic growth and the future of farming. Also newly launched is the e-magazine, "Thrive: Notes on Global Agriculture," that will aggregate customized agricultural content from around the web.
  • Syngenta Chooses NRGene to Speed Genomic Mappying. NRGene's unique genome assembler, DeNovoMAGICTM, supports trait discovery and genomic selection in every type of field and vegetable crop. In addition to the work for Syngenta, DeNovoMAGIC’s technology has already mapped the first-ever wheat genome, rainbow trout and multiple varieties of maize, soybean, vegetables and forestry, among others. Read the full announcement here.
  • Dr. C.S. Prakash Honored at 2015 Borlaug CAST Communication Award Ceremony. For the sixth year in a row, the Borlaug CAST Communication Award honored its recipient at a World Food Prize event. This year's recipient, Dr. Channapatna Prakash, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Tuskegee University, gave a memorable keynote address: Everything I Know about GMOs, I Learned on Social Media. Learn more about the award and this year’s recipient on the CAST website at
  • National Wheat Foundation (NWF) Announces 2015 Wheat Harvest Photo Contest Winners. Over 300 photo submissions to the contest that began in June highlight and celebrate America’s wheat harvest and growers. First place went to Michelle Jones for her photo taken near Broadview, MT. Runners up include Brittany Van Driesten’s photo taken near Danville, KS., Casey Graham’s photo taken near Simla, CO. and Brenna Rietmann’s photo taken near Ione, OR. View the winning photos here.

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