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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.” The activities of USW are made possible by producer checkoff dollars managed by 19 state wheat commissions and through cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit or contact your state wheat commission. Original articles from Wheat Letter may be reprinted without permission; source attribution is requested. Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe to Wheat Letter.

In This Issue:
1. Spring Wheat Tour Sees Record Yield Potential in 2015/16 Crop
2. Trade Teams from Several Markets See July Wheat Harvest
3. U.S. Wheat Organizations Step Up Engagement in Sustainable Agriculture Initiatives
4. Wheat Marketing Center Seeks Next Executive Director
5. Wheat Industry News

Online Edition: Wheat Letter – July 30, 2015 – (
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USW Harvest Report: Published every Friday online at

1. Spring Wheat Tour Sees Record Yield Potential in 2015/16 Crop
By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Programs and Planning Assistant

As the combines roll on to harvest 2015/16 U.S. winter wheat crops, 65 people gathered in Fargo, ND, this week to assess the yield and quality potential of the year’s spring wheat on the annual Hard Red Spring Wheat Tour July 27 to 30. The tour included representatives from some of the largest milling, baking, transportation and grain merchandising companies in the world, as well as major exporting and importing countries, including Canada, Australia, Japan and China. The Wheat Quality Council (WQC) organizes the tour.

I was happy to get “up close and personal” with the crop on behalf of USW. After getting an orientation and hering expert opinions about conditions, we joined teams of four to five people assigned to one of eight daily routes. Teams made ten or more random stops each day to count seed heads and spikelets and calculate estimated yield potential. The teams used that data to determine an average for the route and estimated a cumulative average for the day when we came together in the evening.

At the end of the tour, just a few hours before USW published this issue of "Wheat Letter," the cumulative estimated average yield potential for the hard red spring (HRS) crop was 49.9 bushels per acre (bu/ac) or almost 3.4 metric tons (MT) per hectare. That is the highest HRS yield potential the tour has estimated since it started in 1992.

This year’s tour scouted 446 fields, 43 more than in 2014. Scouts also estimated durum yield potential at 39.2 bu/ac, up from 36.6 bu/ac in 2014. Hard red winter (HRW) had the highest increase in estimated production at 49.0 bu/ac compared to 44 bu/acre in 2014 based on data from eight fields. Total wheat yield, including all three classes, stood at 49.5 bu/ac, the most in the past 10 years.

Following are reports from each day of the 2015 tour. Twitter users can review Tweets and photos from the tour by searching #wheattour15.

Scouts battled challenging conditions on Tuesday, July 28, with a nearby low pressure system pushing unusually high winds. This was not good for the scouts, nor for the wheat. Each team saw significant “lodging” in many fields. On this first day of the tour, Dave Green from ADM reported that participants stopped at 175 locations, up from 162 last year. The day’s estimated average yield of 48.9 bu/ac was slightly higher than last year's day-one average of 47.5 bu/ac, which is in line with USDA’s current spring wheat crop rating.

Julie Ingwersen with Reuters reported from the tour that this is also the highest day-one average in 21 years. Her report included caveats that the real effect of foliar disease pressure will appear at harvest, which could start in southern North Dakota in less than two weeks.

The wind continued to howl on Wednesday, July 29, as teams scouted 173 fields in central and western North Dakota. They calculated an average yield potential of 46.6 bu/ac. Farmers were concerned about the lodging. They said the wind knocked the crop down again after it had recovered from lodging under recent heavy rain events.

“I was done seeding wheat by April 22, the earliest that I have ever finished,” said David Clough, wheat farmer and wheat commissioner from Fessenden, ND. “We seeded in the dust, didn’t get rain, then we finally did. That is why the scouts saw fields at many different levels of maturity, which is somewhat typical, but leaves a portion of the crop vulnerable to shattering. But it is a good crop with some issues so the next few weeks will really be telling.”

Scouts headed out on Thursday, July 30, for the final day of the North Dakota Wheat Tour as a brief rain shower swept through the area. Half of the cars headed out to continue scouting as usual, while the other half headed over to the North Dakota Mill and Elevator for a tour of the largest single-site mill in the Western Hemisphere before resuming scouting. All the teams came back together in Fargo to calculate final yield projections.

For more information, visit the WQC website at

2. Trade Teams from Several Markets See July Wheat Harvest

Every year from spring to early fall, USW organizes trade team visits that help customers learn about U.S. wheat production and marketing systems, as well as to connect those customers directly to U.S. wheat farmers. Throughout the month of July, trade teams from Peru, Algeria and Korea traveled to the United States for the opportunity to ask questions, build relationships and learn why U.S. wheat is the world’s most reliable supply. Accompanied by their regional USW representative, the participants range from millers and bakers to grain purchasers, traders and executives.

USW has already sponsored 10 trade team visits in 2015 and is expecting four more before the end of September. These teams represent at least 12 countries and 55 percent of total 2014/15 U.S. commercial wheat sales as reported by USDA. In addition to funding from USDA/Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) market development programs, state wheat commissions support these trips through their checkoff dollars. They also help organize itineraries and accompany the team traveling in their state, playing an essential role in the success of trade teams.

Peruvian Trade Team. Peru is one the few countries in South America that purchases almost all classes of U.S. wheat and three Peruvian wheat buyers came to see some of those crops July 19 to 25, 2015. They connected with U.S. grain traders to learn more about the advantages of the U.S. wheat marketing system, while focusing specifically on soft red winter (SRW) and HRW production in Maryland, Virginia, Colorado and Kansas. USW worked with the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, the Virginia Small Grains Board, the Colorado Wheat Commission and the Kansas Wheat Commission to organize this team.

“Our goal for this trade team was to encourage the practice of blending different wheat classes or protein levels to minimize input costs, so we can compete better with wheat from other sources,” said USW South American Regional Vice President Alvaro de la Fuente, who traveled with the team. “They also had the opportunity to see the quality of the new U.S. wheat crop and how its versatility can meet their multiple end-use needs.”

Algerian Trade Team. Algerians enjoy their bread and couscous and the North African nation is one of the world’s largest wheat importers. USW sponsored two officials from the Algerian Office of Cereals (OAIC) to visit the United States July 25 to Aug. 1, 2015, to learn about current durum and bread wheat quality and the U.S. wheat export supply system. USW worked with the California Wheat Commission, the North Dakota Wheat Commission and the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council to organize this team.

“There is an opportunity to foster demand for U.S. wheat to blend with Algerian standard flour,” said Ian Flagg, USW’s Regional Director for the Middle East, East and North Africa, who traveled with the team. “The goal of this visit was to demonstrate the versatility and quality of U.S. bread wheat classes and reinforce the value of U.S. durum wheat for semolina.”

Flagg said bringing OAIC officials to the United States complements USW’s trade service and technical assistance in Algeria. That work, conducted with funds from FAS market development programs, plays a pivotal role in proving the value and comparable performance of U.S. wheat to produce flour for baguette bread and other products as well as semolina for couscous in Algeria.

Korean Wheat Crop Survey Team. Two executives representing Korean flour milling companies have been chasing combines in the Palouse region of Washington and the Columbia river valley of Oregon this week starting July 26 to get a first look at this year’s wheat crop. USW, the Washington Grain Commission and the Oregon Wheat Commission sponsor their visit, which included a stop in Portland, OR, to learn more about the U.S. wheat supply system. The team returns home Aug. 1.

The guests are Mr. Ha Jae Lee, who is a production director with Daehan Flour Mills Co., Ltd., and Mr. Jeom Dae Kim, who is the managing director of Samwha Flour Mills Co., Ltd. Their guide is Chang Yoon Kang, USW country director based in Seoul, Korea, who said they hoped to see the SW, HRW and possibly HRS wheat harvests.

“These are buyers for a market that is increasingly sophisticated so it is very important that they see this year’s crops,” Kang said. “Gaining a better understanding of the entire wheat chain, from the farm to the export elevator, will also help give them greater confidence in U.S. wheat supplies.”

3. U.S. Wheat Organizations Step Up Engagement in Sustainable Agriculture Initiatives
By Elizabeth Westendorf, USW Policy Specialist

A rapidly emerging food marketing trend is the concept of “sustainable production.” Sustainability is not clearly defined and therefore means something different to each participant in the value chain. The stakes are high in this game for industry impact and environmental protection, and this creates challenges for producers. U.S. farmers are committed to continuous improvement, and that is why U.S. wheat industry organizations are actively engaged in relevant sustainability initiatives.

For example, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) is a member of Field To Market®: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a coalition focused on “promoting, defining and measuring the sustainability of food, fiber and fuel production.”

Field to Market pioneered a “fieldprint calculator,” which allows farmers to input information about their operations, compare themselves to others and track improvement over time. Many Field to Market members are involved in fieldprint projects in regions where food companies source ingredients for their products. Field to Market has also produced two national indicator reports assessing sustainability trends for wheat, corn, cotton, potatoes, rice and soybeans. USW attended a Field to Market plenary session held in Washington, DC, earlier this year and saw how both food companies and farmers are working to decrease their environmental impact while producing high quality, reliable food supplies.

Internationally, questions about production practices have led USW to join the U.S. Sustainability Alliance (USSA), a group of American agricultural organizations committed to responsible resource management. USSA works to inform international customers about current U.S. efforts in sustainability. As customers worldwide take a greater interest in how their food is produced, it has become more important to share what U.S. farmers have been doing for generations.

For most people in U.S. agriculture, sustainability is second nature, even if we do not refer to it that way. Farmers have built it into production habits and best management practices, but rarely talked about it until recently. Sustainability is incorporated into conservation programs, incentivizing improvements on highly erodible land, reducing soil loss or encouraging nutrient management plans for farmers. Sustainability is also about smart business — using more efficient production methods to reduce inputs while increasing yields. Purchasers and consumers see agricultural practices, including precision applications, minimum tillage and cover crops, as sustainable methods that not only help protect the environment, but can also increase a farmer’s bottom line.

In pursuit of sustainability, NAWG and USW believe there is no finish line. Sustainability is about applying innovations that contribute to continuous improvement, for both customer needs and farmer profitability. It is a thread that connects farmer action, government policy and scientific innovation to ensure healthy ecosystems for future generations. It requires new ideas and approaches to perennial problems, and there is no one right answer.

NAWG and USW are working to address sustainability every day by helping to create industry conversations and meet domestic and overseas customers’ evolving needs. A key part of our engagement in sustainability is telling the critical story of what U.S. wheat farmers are doing today that contributes to a productive future in agriculture and the food industry.

4. Wheat Marketing Center Seeks Next Executive Director

Providing opportunities for education and technical assistance is a priority for USW and the wheat farmers the organization represents in overseas markets.

The chance to learn by interacting with industry experts in courses at these institutions is a crucial part of how the U.S. wheat industry serves its domestic and overseas customers. USW relies on educational partners like ABA International, Kansas State University’s IGP Institute, the Northern Crops Institute at North Dakota State University and the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, OR, These are places where customers can gain valuable hands-on experience and build trust that U.S. wheat is the most consistent, reliable and versatile wheat in the world.

Now one of these organizations, WMC, is searching for a new executive director to work with its board, which includes many U.S. wheat farmers, and other stakeholders to fulfill the organization’s mission.

WMC’s job announcement says the executive director will manage daily operations and is accountable for the effective delivery of services and programs “in wheat utilization research, educating the wheat industry on end-use quality characteristics, and promoting partnerships and facilitating dialogue among wheat industry leaders, both domestically and internationally.”

A job description is available at The search committee will accept applications for the position until Sept. 1, 2015, and asks that inquiries, applications and resumes/CVs be sent via email to

5. Wheat Industry News
  • NRGene Has Mapped the Complete Wild Emmer Wheat Genome in one month, significantly accelerating global research into crop improvement. "The repercussions of the mapping will be felt around the world," said Assaf Distelfeld, PhD, of Tel Aviv University, a renowned wheat geneticist and the primary researcher on the project. "Scientists will now be able to identify key genes in the emmer wheat and introduce them into commercial wheat via classical breeding, creating hardier varieties across environmental conditions, ultimately increasing the global food supply." To read the full story visit
  • Noble Foundation Receives $1.35 Million Grant to Advance Gene Research. Researchers at The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Michigan Technological University and University of California, Riverside recently received a three-year, $1.45 million grant from the National Science Foundation. This grant will help scientists study how genes or groups of genes (genotypes) connect to and control the characteristics traits (phenotypes) of plants. This would turn gene data into valuable information for plant breeders to use when breeding improved varieties. To read the full story visit
  • USDA, Microsoft to Launch “Innovative Challenge” to Address Food Resiliency. The contest explores how climate change will affect the U.S. food system with the intent of achieving better food resiliency. The challenge invites entrants to develop and publish new applications and tools that can analyze multiple sources of information about the nation's food supply, including key USDA data sets now hosted on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft's cloud-computing platform. To read the full story and watch the video, visit
  • NAWG Counters Claims of Glyphosate Misuse. “The concern that Roundup is being dumped onto wheat plants is just patently not true,” Brett Blankenship, a wheat grower from Washtucna, WA, and president of NAWG, told Milling & Baking News. “We’re very sensitive that we are the front line in the production of a consumer product. We know [glyphosate is] a safe product to use according to the label. That’s why we are very careful.” In addition, the National Wheat Foundation has launched a blog series focused on sound science and facts about wheat and glyphosate. Read the first blog at, and join the conversation by using #glyphosatefacts on Facebook and Twitter.
  • University of Alberta Researchers Announce Possible Celiac Relief. The university reported recently that scientists there developed “a natural supplement from the yolks of chicken eggs that prevents the absorption of gliadin, a component of gluten that people with celiac disease have difficulty digesting. The research may prove to be welcome news for celiac patients around the world.” The university release said the next step is an efficacy trial and the supplement could be available within three years.
  • Updated Gluten-Free Lit Review Published. The Grain Foods Foundation (GFF) reports that Glenn Gaesser, PhD, chair of GFF's scientific advisory board, published a new literature review on the gluten-free diet in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Titled "Navigating the gluten-free boom: from essential medical treatment to ill-conceived fad diet," the review confirms there is no published experimental evidence supporting a gluten-free diet for weight loss in individuals without celiac disease or gluten-related disorders.
  • Condolences. USW recently learned of the passing of USW consultant Don Sullins’ mother on July 8. Our thoughts are with Don and his family during this time.
  • Best Wishes to Mark Fowler, who will become executive director of Farmer Direct Foods, Atchison, KS, Aug. 3, 2015, and will transition from his current position as assistant director of Kansas State University’s IGP Institute through the fall academic semester. Many U.S. wheat importers and overseas millers know Mark well from his dedicated service at IGP Institute and in consulting roles with USW.
  • Congratulations to Shannon Schlecht, recently named Executive Director of Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, an innovative nonprofit that fuels economic growth in Minnesota. Schlecht, who was with USW for 15 years, most recently as Vice President of Policy, will assume overall strategic and operational responsibility for the institute’s staff, programs and execution of its mission. USW wishes him the best in his new endeavor. Read the full announcement here.

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