Following is USW Market Analyst Tyllor Ledford’s report on her participation in the 2023 Crop Quality Seminars. She appears on the left in the photo above with Regional Vice President for South and Southeast Asia Joe Sowers and Assistant Regional Director Joe Bippert at the Crop Quality Seminar in Bangkok, Thailand.

For many, the month of November includes preparations for an upcoming holiday season and a time of reflection as many cultures around the world look ahead to a new year. At U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the month of November marks Crop Quality Seminar season, a time when USW staff from around the world inform customers about new wheat crop quality characteristics, provide insight on current market conditions, and highlight opportunities for customers as they make purchasing decisions into the coming year.

Cover of the 2023 USW Crop Quality Report including photos of a wheat field, pasta, sponge cake, and bread.

Download the 2023 U.S. Wheat Crop Quality Report here.

From November 6 to 10, I had the pleasure of joining a team of USW staff, state wheat commission staff, partner organizations, exporters, and wheat farmers on the Southeast Asia Crop Quality tour in Manila, Philippines, Jakarta, Indonesia, and Bangkok, Thailand. The seminars represent a cumulation of the years’ work, from when the winter wheat crop was planted in 2022 through spring fieldwork, harvest, rigorous quality testing, and finally, the compilation of the 2023 crop quality booklets.

A Unique Gathering

Differing from other USW sponsored events, the Crop Quality seminars provide an annual opportunity for representatives from across the U.S. wheat supply chain to gather in one location with major flour milling stakeholders from the region. Attendees included a mix of producers, country elevator managers, U.S. export companies, flour mill staff, and end product manufacturers. With a wide range of representation from across the supply chain, this year’s event provided the opportunity to address special topics of concern, including how farmers make planting decisions and the future of wheat acreage, new technology implementation by wheat producers, and the grain origination process from a country elevator point of view. The U.S. supply chain is large and complex; therefore, perspectives from different aspects of the supply chain help bridge the gap between the producers of U.S. and the end users.

In our region alone we reached over 250 customers from Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia throughout three seminars. It was enlightening to witness firsthand the great relationships USW has with the flour milling industry in the region and reconnect with familiar faces that have visited farms in the U.S. or participated in other USW sponsored activities and events.

Photo from the front of a large conference room at the 2023 USW Crop Quality Seminar in Bangkok, Thailand.

Nearly 150 flour mills staff, end product manufactures, and industry stakeholders gathered at the 2023 USW Crop Quality Seminar held in Bangkok, Thailand.

Timely Information Aids in Future Planning

Throughout the week, a common focus of questions and hallway conversations centered on future purchasing decisions, potential threats, and the key question of “where will prices go next?”

Market sentiment is ever changing and now more than ever, lurking factors that are not yet reflected in current market prices continue to play a role in wheat market dynamics. Even in years with less variability, accurately predicting price direction is a challenge, but this year, with many more unknowns than knowns in the market, making predictions is more difficult than ever.

Nevertheless, the questions and conversations highlight the continued need for information sharing as customers navigate the complexities of the world wheat market. Regardless of the year, crop conditions, and market outlook customers rely on USW to provide accurate, timely, and transparent information, in addition to the high-quality wheat on which customers know they can rely.


A month-long effort that had U.S. wheat farmers and industry experts presenting the 2023 Crop Quality Report to customers in more than two dozen countries is winding down with a collective sense of accomplishment.

It is believed at least one attendance record was set this year.

The annual series of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Crop Quality Seminars, which provide crucial information to customers and provide an opportunity for wheat buyers to interact and create a dialogue about the quality of the wheat crop, began in Sub-Saharan Africa on Nov. 1. Seminars in Central America/Caribbean and South Asia beginning soon after. Seminars in South America, the European Union and North Asia wrapped up on Nov. 20.

Only two dates remain: Seminars will take place in Dubai on Dec. 5 and Casablanca on Dec. 7.

Large Attendance

“The large attendance we saw this year highlights how much our customers value U.S. wheat’s timely and transparent information,” said USW Marketing Analyst Tyllor Ledford, who participated in her first Crop Quality Seminar. Ledford presented at the South Asia seminars (see photo above), which took place in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. “Throughout the three seminars, we were able to reach customers from Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The seminar in Bangkok was the largest on record, with nearly 140 participants.”

Attendance was strong throughout the 2023 Crop Quality Seminar series including here in Seoul, South Korea.

Attendance was strong throughout the 2023 Crop Quality Seminar series including here in Seoul, South Korea.

Producers Cory Kress (Idaho) and Aaron Kjelland (North Dakota) presented on New Technologies in Agriculture and Planting Decisions for Farmers. Likewise, U.S. country elevator managers Jason Middleton and Tyler Krause provided a presentation about grain origination and how it is handled at the first point of sale, in addition to by-class perspectives from exporters.

“The farmers and wheat buyers were happy to reconnect with familiar faces they had seen on trade team visits to the U.S. and other events,” said Ledford.

Positive Feedback

Erica Oakley, USW Vice President of Programs, said there has been a lot of positive feedback from each of the seven regions where Crop Quality Seminars were held.

“Our customers around the world have complimented U.S. wheat staff and presenters from our partner organizations,” said Oakley. “We had a lot of good information to share, so credit goes to the U.S. farmers who produced a high-quality wheat crop.”


USW’s Mexico City Office hosted more than 225 participants representing flour millers and wheat buyers from Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.


The North Asia Crop Quality Seminar team traveled to Suzhou, China, and presented to about 160 flour millers, wheat buyers, and baking industry representatives. Guest of note included Ms. LaShonda McLeod Harper, Director of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Agricultural Trade Office in Shanghai, and the senior COFCO Wheat Department Manager Mr. Sun Wei who had just participated in a USW-sponsored trade team visit for COFCO managers to the United States.

Group of about 160 U.S. and Chinese wheat industry officials and managers at the 2023 USW Crop Quality Seminar in Shanghai, China, Nov. 2023.

About 160 wheat buyers, flour millers, and baking industry executives participated in the 2023 USW Crop Quality Seminar in Suzhou, China.


Montana wheat farmer Denise Conover greets Japanese wheat industry executives at a USW Crop Quality Seminar in Tokyo, Japan.

Montana wheat farmer Denise Conover greets Japanese wheat industry executives at the 2023 USW Crop Quality Seminar in Tokyo, Japan.

In Tokyo, Japan, 130 customers attended a Crop Quality seminar. Attendees included flour milling companies from across the region, Japanese traders, grain inspectors and members of the media.

“The participants were very satisfied with the presentations and engaged them in active discussions and questions to gain a deeper understanding of the quality of this year’s U.S. wheat crop,” said Rick Nakano, USW Country Director in Japan.

South Korea

A total of 90 participants, including customers from the flour milling and food processing industries, attended the seminar held in Seoul, South Korea. It was the first in-person seminar held in South Korea in three years.

“Customers expressed great satisfaction with the on-site Crop Quality Seminar,” said USW Country Director Dong-Chan “Channy” Bae. “Notably, despite the typically reserved nature of Korean attendees, there was an engaging discussion on the market, wheat quality, and logistics during a question-and-answer session.”

South America

Seminars in South America attracted a good number of customers, reports USW Regional Director Miguel Galdos.

“In the seminar held in Cali, Colombia, participants represented 30% of total wheat imports in Colombia,” he said. “Meanwhile, in Bogota, more than 35% of total wheat imports were represented.”

USW Regional Director Osvaldo Seco welcomes participants to a 2023 Crop Quality Seminar in South America.

USW Assistant Regional Director Osvaldo Seco welcomes participants to a 2023 Crop Quality Seminar in South America.

A seminar In Quito, Ecuador, drew companies accounting for at least 90% of U.S. wheat imports. The same can be said for seminars in Lima, Peru, and Santiago, Chile – both saw more than 90% of U.S. wheat purchases represented.

Sub-Saharan Africa

USW’s Cape Town Office conducted Crop Quality seminars in Nairobi, Kenya; Lagos, Nigeria; and Cape Town, South Africa. Presenting quality data from the 2023 harvest were Dr. Senay Simsek, Department Head for Food Science at Purdue University; Charlie Vogel, Executive Director of the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council; and Royce Schaneman Executive Director of the Nebraska Wheat Board.

Simsek presented on Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) and industry analyst Mike Krueger presented via video on the world supply and demand situation for grains.

In Nairobi, USW also conducted a demonstration at the African Milling School using soft red winter (SRW) and hard red winter (HRW) for local products, such as chapati and mandazi.

By Ralph Loos, USW Director of Communications


U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has published its 2023 Crop Quality Report, which includes grade, flour and baking data for all six U.S. wheat classes. The report compiles comprehensive data from the analysis of hundreds of samples conducted during and after harvest by our partner organizations and laboratories. The report provides essential, objective information to help buyers get the wheat they need at the best value possible.

In this short video, USW Vice President of Programs Erica Oakley talks about the 2023 report, while Director of Programs Catherine Miller discusses the USW Crop Quality Seminars scheduled around the world in coming weeks . . .


The 2023 U.S. hard red winter (HRW) growing season saw a mixed bag of conditions from another severe drought in the southern and central Great Plains to nearly ideal rain and temperatures in the northern plains and Pacific Northwest (PNW).

Total production, while still quite low historically, reached 16.4 million metric tons (MMT), a 13% increase from 2022. As for functional qualities, this is a sound crop that meets or exceeds typical HRW contract specifications and should provide high value to customers.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) reports hard red winter quality highlights for HRW grown in regions that supply feed into export facilities in the Gulf of Mexico and for export facilities in the PNW. The complete 2023 USW Crop Quality Report and detailed by-class reports are being produced now and will be posted online over the next few weeks.

Gulf-Exportable Hard Red Winter Crop Highlights

The average grade is U.S. No. 2 HRW with 84% of the crop grading No. 2 or better.

Test weights trended lower this year with an overall average of 59.7 lb/bu (78.6 kg/hl).

Kernel data indicate uniform and dense kernels with 69% exhibiting large size, a much higher level than in previous years.

Protein content average is 12.9% (12% mb), with 63% of Gulf samples 12.5% or higher.

Alveograph W average value of 260 (10-4 J) is exceptionally high for dough strength and an L value of 110 (mm) indicates very good extensibility.

Farinograph peak and stability averages of 4.9 and 8.9 minutes, respectively, are well within industry target ranges.

Average bake absorption is 64.6%, significantly higher than the 5-year average.

Average loaf volume is 936 cc, comparable to last year and indicative of excellent baking quality.

PNW-Exportable Hard Red Winter Crop Highlights

The average grade for the 2023 PNW-exportable crop is U.S. No. 1 HRW with 81% of samples grading No. 1 and 93% grading No. 2 or better.

PNW test weights trended slightly lower this year with an overall average of 60.7 lb/bu (79.8 kg/hl).

Protein content average is 11.8% (12% mb) with 59% of the crop 11.5% or higher.

Wheat moisture average is 10.4%, adding additional value for milling customers.

Kernel data indicate uniform and dense kernels with 69% exhibiting large size, which is a significant increase from last year and comparable to the 5-year average.

Alveograph W values were exceptionally high for dough strength at 296 (10-4 J) and the extensibility L values are high at 95 (mm).

Dough properties suggest an acceptable crop that is comparable to the 5-year average.

Loaf volume average is 868 cc, comparable to the 5-year average and above U.S. industry targets of 850 cc.



A much larger 2023 U.S. hard white (HW) wheat crop also shows acceptable quality performance in milling, dough properties and finished products like pan breads, Asian noodles, and steamed breads. The Pacific Northwest (PNW), California and Southern Plains composites all show acceptable to excellent bread baking potential according to respective protein contents. Performance in Asian noodle applications and steamed breads is somewhat more variable.

Photo shows a combine harvesting hard white wheat with a green field, hillside and partly cloudy blue sky behind.

U.S. hard white (HW) is grown in Nebraska (above), Kansas, Colorado, Idaho, and California.

2023 Crop Highlights

Planted and harvested area for the 2023 HW crop reflect high abandonment in the Southern Plains due to drought. USDA estimates total HW planted area at 616,800 acres and harvested area at 473,520 acres, with abandonment of 23% compared to 15% in 2022.

Production was supported by late-season rain in Colorado and Nebraska, and much better growing conditions in the PNW. USDA’s estimate of total winter and spring HW wheat is 0.62 million metric tons (MMT) for 2023, 32% more than 0.47 MMT in 2022.

The grade for low- and medium-protein composites for California and the Southern Plains grade as U.S. No. 1. Very high protein composites from the PNW and Southern Plains grade as U.S. No. 2 primarily due to lower test weights

Test weights range from 59.3 to 64.4 lb/bu (78.0 to 84.6 kg/hl), a wider spread than in the 2022 crop.

Protein contents range from 10.8 to 13.7% (12% mb) with wheat moisture ranging from 9.9% to 12.8%.

1,000 kernel weights are equal to or greater than 30.0 g except for the low-protein Southern Plains composite at 29.6 g.

Falling number values are equal to or greater than 338 sec for all composites.

Buhler Laboratory Mill straight-grade flour extractions range from 69.8 to 70.6% on a tempered wheat weight basis, L* values (whiteness) from 91.6 to 92.4, and flour ash 0.42 to 0.50% (14% mb). Flour extractions should not be compared to previous years as the calculation has shifted from a total product weight basis to a tempered wheat weight basis. Commercial mills should see better extractions, although some adjustments may be necessary for portions of the crop with lower test weights and 1,000 kernel weights.

Flour wet gluten contents range 23.3 to 33.9% depending on protein content.

Starch pasting properties including amylograph and RVA peak viscosities range from 615 BU/2455 cP to 834 BU/2881 cP and indicate the crop will produce noodles with acceptable texture.

Dough properties show this year’s crop has lower water absorption values, weaker mixing properties, and less extensibility compared to last year.

Baking evaluation for all composites shows acceptable to excellent baking performance relative to protein content, with bake absorptions in the range of 62.6 to 68.5%, loaf volumes of 773 to 1026 cc, and crumb grain and texture scores that are similar to or better than a typical hard red winter (HRW) flour.

For Chinese white salted noodle performance, L* values are acceptable for all composites except the PNW and Southern Plains very high protein composites. The sensory color stability scores are excellent for the California medium protein composite with all other composites rating as poor. Using 60% extraction patent flour is recommended to improve noodle color while maintaining noodle texture.  Cooked noodle texture is softer than the control for all composites primarily due to lower starch pasting viscosities and water absorptions than last year.

Chinese yellow alkaline noodle L* values are similar or better than the control for parboiled noodles from the California and Southern Plains composites. Cooked noodle texture is softer for all composites primarily due to lower starch pasting viscosities and water absorptions compared to last year.

Steamed bread results show most composites have acceptable specific volumes. Total scores are lower than the control flour due to smaller volumes, tighter and yellower internal crumbs, and surface blisters. Blending 25% soft white (SW) flour with high-protein HW flour may improve overall steamed bread quality.


“It was a challenging year,” said Oregon farmer David Brewer of the 2023 soft white (SW) wheat production season. “However, I believe that our investments into variety development and adoption of sustainable management practices have helped us ensure the best functionality from the 2023 crop.”

Seeding conditions were good in the fall of 2022 with sufficient moisture to get the soft white winter wheat crop off to a good start in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Dryness set in just as the crop was breaking dormancy and turned hot as farmers seeded their spring SW. Hot, dry conditions persisted and accelerated maturity and harvest.

Those growing conditions affected yields, with SW production now estimated at 5.3 million metric tons (MMT) or almost 195 million bushels. That is 23% less SW than PNW farmers produced in 2022.

U.S. soft white wheat kernels

Soft white (SW) wheat.

The dry conditions also contributed to a SW crop with above-average protein. Yet, the crop has appropriately weak to medium gluten strength and acceptable or better finished product characteristics. Stocks of more typical protein SW from 2022 are also available to buyers. In addition, the higher protein SW in this crop provides opportunities in blends for crackers, Asian noodles, steamed breads, flat breads, and pan breads.

The following 2023 crop quality highlights include functional data for Club, a sub-class of SW with very weak gluten strength, typically used in a Western White blend with SW for cakes and delicate pastries.

U.S. Club wheat kernels

Club wheat.

2023 SW Crop Highlights

  • The overall average grade of the 2023 SW crop is U.S. No. 1 SW; Club average is also U.S. No. 1.
  • Test weight averages trended lower this year with an average of 60.3 lb/bu (79.3 kg/hl) for SW and 60.7 lb/bu (79.8 kg/hl) for Club.
  • Protein (12% mb) is higher this year with an average of 11.1% for SW and 10.6% for Club.
  • Falling number average is 336 sec or higher for all SW composites and 327 sec for Club.
  • Buhler Laboratory Mill average extraction for SW is 70.3%, and 72.1% for Club. Commercial mills should see better extractions, although some adjustments may be necessary for portions of the crop with lower test weights. Flour extractions should not be compared to last year or the 5-year average as the calculation has shifted from a total product weight basis to a tempered wheat weight basis.
  • Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) lactic acid and water values for SW are 105% and 51%, respectively, indicating weak to medium gluten strength. Overall, SW composites have SRC profiles suitable for good cookie and cracker performance. Lactic acid and water SRC values for Club are 71% and 51%, respectively, and are indicative of very weak gluten with low water holding capacity.
  • Starch pasting properties include amylograph and RVA viscosities for SW and WC indicating the crop is suitable for batter-based products. The low protein SW composite average of 368 BU/2122 cP peak viscosity is reflective of a slightly lower falling number (313 sec). The overall SW and WC averages are similar to last year.
  • Soft white and Club dough properties are typical and suggest very weak to medium gluten strength and low water absorption values similar to their respective 2022 and 5-year averages.
  • Sponge cake volumes average 1089 cc for SW and 1110 cc for Club. Hardness value for SW is 353 g and 337 g for Club. All SW and Club cakes were baked from an experimentally milled straight grade flour. For comparison, control cakes baked at the same time from a commercially milled short patent cake flour (2022 harvest) have an average volume of 1205 cc and an average firmness of 242 g.
  • Cookie diameter values are 7.7 for SW and 7.9 for Club. Spread ratio for SW is 8.2 and 8.8 for Club. These values should not be compared to 2022 or the 5-year averages as the cookie method has changed as of 2023 (see analysis methods).
  • Average soft white pan bread bake absorption is 56.1% and loaf volume is 696 cc. Blends of hard wheat with up to 20% SW should produce acceptable pan breads, especially from higher protein SW.
  • Chinese southern-type steamed bread values for Club, and medium and high protein SW composites scored similar to or better than the control due to greater volume and whiter internal crumb color. Specific volume and total score averages are SW 2.7 mL/g, 70.8 and Club 2.7 mL, 70.7, respectively.

The 2023 U.S. wheat harvest has ended and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) published its final weekly Harvest Report Oct. 6. This year’s first Harvest Report appeared May 19 and was published every Friday afternoon (Eastern Time) throughout the season with updates and comments on harvest progress, crop conditions for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and northern durum wheat.

#1 HAD

U.S. hard amber durum kernels.The final northern durum weekly report showed that compared to the prior week, wheat moisture increased to 11.4%, falling number increased to 416 sec and HVAC decreased from 81% to 80%. Compared to 2022, protein content, 1000-kernel weight, and percent damaged kernels were higher while falling number, test weight and shrunken and broken kernels were lower. The overall grade remained U.S. No. 1 Hard Amber Durum (HAD).

The Durum wheat Quality & Pasta Processing Laboratory at North Dakota State University is completing testing on the composites for the full northern durum regional crop quality report and USW’s 2023 Crop Quality Report.

Important Resource

Harvest Report is a key component of USW’s international technical and marketing programs as a resource that helps customers understand how the crop situation may affect basis values and export prices. USW’s overseas offices share the report with their market contacts and use it as a key resource in meetings and for answering inquiries. Several USW offices publish the report in the local language.

Anyone may subscribe to receive the Harvest Report directly to their email inbox by filling out a quick form found at this link.

The accumulated quality data gathered during the season and reported in Harvest Report builds to the annual USW Crop Quality Report coming soon. USW thanks the many partner organizations who support this work and Vice President of Programs Erica Oakley for managing these important reports.


Attractive cash prices, a good agronomic fit, and excellent breeding and crop management have once again combined to help produce a large and high-quality U.S. soft red winter wheat crop in 2023.

Soft red winter (SRW) is grown over a wide area of the eastern United States that experienced generally good growing conditions in the 2023 crop year. This crop is very sound with high test weight and falling number values, large kernel size, good milling characteristics, and is relatively free of DON. Processors will find a versatile crop with good qualities for cookies, cakes, and crackers. With higher protein and good extensibility, the crop should also be valuable in blending for baking applications.

This image shows a map of the United States with soft red winter wheat production and regions from which samples were analyzed for quality.

Great Plains Analytical Laboratory, Kansas City, Mo., collected, tested, and analyzed 232 samples from elevators in 18 reporting areas across 11 states: 46 samples were from East Coast states and 186 from Gulf states.

The full SRW Quality Survey will be available soon online here. Buyers are encouraged to review their quality specifications and work with their local U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) representatives to ensure that purchases meet their expectations.

The Season in Review

USDA estimates the total SRW seeded area for 2023 harvest at 3.10 million hectares, up 12% seeded for the 2022 harvest and up 26% over the 5-year average, making this the most planted area since 2014.

Early development was good and much of the soft red winter growing area received plentiful moisture through the winter and spring with only Maryland seeing a decrease in soil moisture. Later in the season, mild temperatures and rainfall benefited critical kernel development.

Harvest began in mid-May and picked up pace in early-June with unusually dry conditions and below-average temperatures. Weather patterns changed by mid-June with widespread rain causing harvest delays in North Carolina, Maryland, and Ohio.

However, USDA estimates the 2023 SRW crop to be 12.0 MMT, up from both 9.2 MMT in 2022 and the 5-year average of 8.1 MMT, making this the largest SRW production in 9 years and highest yield on record.


2023 Crop Highlights

  • The overall average sample grade for the 2023 soft red winter harvest survey is U.S. No. 1 SRW; the Gulf average is U.S. No. 1 SRW, and East Coast is U.S. No. 2.
  • Test weight averages trended higher and indicate a sound crop with Composite average 60.3 lb/bu (79.3 kg/hl), Gulf average 60.4 lb/bu (79.5 kg/hl) and East Coast 59.6 lb/bu (78.4 kg/hl).
  • The wheat falling number overall average of 320 seconds is below 2022 but above the 5-year average and indicates there is very little sprout damage in the crop; lower East Coast average is due to rainfall at harvest.
  • Single kernel values reflect a consistent crop. Kernels are harder, heavier, and larger than last year’s and 5-year averages.
  • Vomitoxin (DON) averages are well below the USDA threshold of 2.0 ppm and indicate the sampled crop is relatively free of DON.
  • Amylograph data indicate suitable starch characteristics for batter-based products. The 2023 averages for Composite (655 BU) and Gulf (709 BU) are very sound, reinforce the high falling numbers, and indicate very low levels of amylase activity. The East Coast value of 401 BU reflects this year’s slightly lower falling number values.
  • Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) values indicate excellent quality for all typical applications. Sucrose values indicate cookies and crackers will benefit from reduced bake time and should not experience any excess water-holding issues.
  • Dough properties suggest this crop is typical for SRW although weaker than the 5-year average
  • Alveograph data indicate a crop that is less extensible, more resistant/tenacious than last year and is suitable for blending applications: P values: Composite (51 mm), East Coast (50 mm) and Gulf (52 mm); L values: Composite (57 mm), East Coast (56 mm) and Gulf (57 mm).
  • Cookie diameter values are consistent across the soft red winter crop (9.0 cm) and are higher than last year but similar to the 5-year average, indicating this crop has adequate to good spreadability.
  • Loaf volume averages are lower than last year and 5-year averages, which is consistent with alveograph data, and indicate this crop is suitable for blending: Composite (602 cc), East Coast (587 cc) and Gulf (606 cc).

By USW Vice President of Programs Erica Oakley


Building a kernel photo library with new and updated images from each of the six classes of U.S. wheat requires the single steady hand of a skilled photographer.

And hundreds of hands of support from everyone else.

The wheat kernel photo library project, which U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) began planning earlier this year, took a major leap forward in June, when the Department of Plant Sciences at North Dakota State University hosted a photo crew from Middle, USW’s creative agency in Manhattan, Kansas. Over two days, a Middle photographer captured images of a dozen different varieties of U.S. wheat – the six classes and several subclasses – from fields across the country.

Therein lies the referenced “hundreds of hands of support” – wheat kernels photographed for the USW project were sent to the NDSU campus in boxes and buckets from Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and, of course, North Dakota.

Clair Keene, an Assistant Professor and Agronomist at North Dakota State University, and North Dakota Wheat Commission Policy and Marketing Director Jim Peterson watch as a photographer captures images as part of the kernel photography project.

Clair Keene, an Assistant Professor and Agronomist at North Dakota State University, and North Dakota Wheat Commission Policy and Marketing Director Jim Peterson watch as a photographer captures images as part of the photography project. NDSU hosted the photo shoot to build the new library of wheat kernel images.

Photos in the wheat kernel photo library project include magnified up-close shots of individual kernels, as well as cross-cut shots that show an internal view of the kernel. There are photos of small piles of the grains that depict uniformity and color.

The library is still “under construction,” but once it is complete, photos will be used across USW departments for a variety of projects. Having access to clear and accurate kernel images allows USW to educate and inform both internal and external audiences, explained USW Vice President of Programs Erica Oakley.

“There are many important uses for these images – everything from our Crop Quality programs to presentations our staff and partners give around the world to buyers and potential buyers of U.S. wheat,” explained Oakley. “We really appreciate the people at North Dakota State University for hosting this project, and we must thank producers and state wheat associations for sharing samples of their wheat to photograph. It’s a worthwhile project that will benefit us all.”


USW Vice President for Overseas Operations Mike Spier (far right) and Regional Vice President for South Asia Joe Sowers greet attendees at the 2022 USW Crop Quality Seminar in Manila.

USW Vice President for Overseas Operations Mike Spier (far right) and Regional Vice President for South Asia Joe Sowers (center) greet attendees at the 2022 USW Crop Quality Seminar in Manila.

Crop Quality Seminars presented by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) concluded this week with a universal response by customers in every corner of the world: They are impressed by the high quality of the 2022 crop across all six wheat classes but concerned about the sustained higher prices.

One other common opinion: Those attending in-person seminars were happy to meet USW staff and U.S. wheat producers face-to-face.

“It was great to have a number of U.S. producers sharing their stories and interacting with customers,” reported Tyllor Ledford, Assistant Director in USW’s Portland office, who was part of the U.S. wheat team that presented in South Asia. “There was some great dialogue between the farmers and customers about production practices and risk management topics. And obviously, there was a lot of interaction and feedback on this year’s wheat crop.”

A big part of USW’s effort to communicate supply, demand and crop quality information to wheat buying and milling groups, the annual seminars took place throughout November. Separate in-person or hybrid (in-person and virtual) seminars were conducted in South Asia, Central America, South America, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the European Union (EU). Virtual seminars were conducted in China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan with support from videotaped crop quality presentations.

“We had a good turnout in the EU, with a lot of questions about this year’s crop and a lot of interest in future crops,” said USW Vice President of Programs Erica Oakley, who partnered with the USW EU Regional Office in Rotterdam and Erica Olson of the North Dakota Wheat Commission to lead seminars in Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Portugal. “Everyone was very pleased with the wheat crop and what we presented, but higher prices remain a concern.”

USW Secretary Treasurer Clark Hamilton (at podium) and Dave Green, Executive Vice President, Wheat Quality Council, present at the USW 2022 Crop Quality Seminar in Bangkok, Thailand.

USW Secretary Treasurer Clark Hamilton (at podium) and Dave Green, Executive Vice President, Wheat Quality Council, present at the USW 2022 Crop Quality Seminar in Bangkok, Thailand.

In the MENA region, seminars were held in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. USW Regional Technical Manager Peter Lloyd said the uncertainty of the Ukraine-Russia conflict and the future of the Black Sea Grain Initiative weighed heavily in the discussion.

“Overall, participants were impressed by the high quality of this year’s U.S. wheat harvest, but the strong U.S. dollar and high freight rates are not helping the prices affecting the region,” Lloyd said. “We will likely be helping our customers deal with a reduced availability of high-protein wheat in the next marketing year.”

In South America, seminars in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile also attracted buyers and millers eager to learn about the 2022 crop. There were curiosities about potential U.S. transportation problems and how it may affect U.S. wheat exports in the future.

USW staff and partners pose for a photo with a group of U.S. wheat customers during a 2022 Crop Quality Seminar in Quito, Ecuador on Nov. 10.

USW staff and representatives of partner organizations pose for a photo with a group of U.S. wheat customers in South America during a Crop Quality Seminar held Nov. 10 in Quito, Ecuador.

“There were questions about ongoing drought and transportation issues, such as the Mississippi River barge situation and the potential railroad strike in the U.S.,” explained Miguel Galdos, USW Regional Director in Southern America. “That, of course, is based on the concerns about pricing. As far as the crop quality, attendees were pleased with the U.S. crop this year, especially the baking quality of hard red winter wheat.”

The South Asia seminars conducted in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines featured USW staff and a seven-member USW board team that shared information about their farm operations.

“Millers meeting with U.S. wheat producers is vital to promoting our product,” said Joe Sowers, USW Regional Vice Present for South Asia. “Discussions about challenges and opportunities on each side of the wheat industry provide great insight into the value of U.S. wheat, which is a primary goal of the seminars each year.”

The 2022 USW Crop Quality Report and by-class reports can be found here.