Buyers will find the 2021 Northern durum crop to be of high quality, especially for grading and kernel characteristics. Although lower than previous years, test weights are stronger than expected, and damage is low. There is no shortage of protein in this year’s crop, and falling number values indicate a sound crop. Lower 1000 kernel weights and a reduction in the percentage of large-sized kernels will likely reduce milling yields. Dough properties look to be strong as well as cooked pasta characteristics. The main issue buyers will face is lower supply levels. Customers should also continue to be diligent in contract specifications, given that a small portion of the crop did see some rainfall at harvest.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has posted the full 2021 Northern Durum Wheat Quality Report here.

2021 U.S. durum sampling data

Weather and Harvest

In the U.S. Northern Plains, Durum production is down by more than 50% from 2020 due to a small decline in acreage and sharply lower yields caused by severe drought. Throughout the growing season, overly dry soil conditions were a concern, and the dry conditions pushed crop development ahead of normal but kept disease pressures minimal. Most of the harvest was completed under dry conditions, allowing for excellent grading and kernel characteristics. Scattered rain delays toward the end of harvest affected some quality factors but did not significantly impact overall quality.

2021 Crop Highlights

  • Grade – the overall average is U.S. No. 1 Hard Amber Durum (HAD).
  • Test Weight averages 60.5 lb/bu (78.8 kg/hl), below last year and five-year averages, due to drought pressure.
  • Damage was quite low at 0.1% due to minimal disease pressure.
  • Vitreous Kernel (Hvac) content is 86%, similar to last year and 5-year averages due to drought conditions.
  • Protein averages 15.5% (12% mb), higher than 2020; nearly 90% of the crop has a minimum protein of 14%.
  • 1000 Kernel Weight average is 41.2 g, a drop from last year’s high value of 46.7 and slightly below the 5-year average of 42.1, due to dry conditions during kernel fill.
  • Kernel Moisture was lower than average due to a mostly dry harvest period.
  • Falling Number values are high, with the average for the region being 428 sec.
  • Don is nearly non-existent in this year’s crop due to very minimal disease pressure.
  • Speck Counts are lower than last year and 5-year averages.
  • Semolina Protein is 14.2%, much higher than last year due to higher kernel protein.
  • Semolina Color values are similar to last year, with brightness and yellowness slightly lower.
  • Mixing Properties reveal a stronger crop than last year and the 5-year average.
  • Cooked Spaghetti Evaluations show color similar to the 5-year average and higher cooked weight and firmness. Cooking loss is higher than last year.

Read more about the 2021 Northern Durum wheat crop here.

2021 Crop Quality Data on Other U.S. Wheat Classes

Soft White
Hard Red Winter
Hard Red Spring
Soft Red Winter
Desert Durum® And California Hard Red Winter
Hard White


The new U.S. winter wheat crop is rapidly developing and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will publish its first “Harvest Report” for marketing year 2021/22 on Friday, May 14.

USW Harvest Reports are published every Friday afternoon, Eastern Daylight Time, throughout the season with updates and comments on harvest progress, crop conditions and current crop quality for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and durum wheat.

Anyone may subscribe to an email version of the “Harvest Report” at this link. USW includes links in the email to additional wheat condition and grading information, including the U.S. Drought Monitor, USDA/NASS Crop Progress and National Wheat Statistics, the official FGIS wheat grade standards and USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. Harvest Reports are also posted online on the USW website here.

The weekly Harvest Report is a key component of USW’s international technical and marketing programs. It is 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 for answering inquiries and meeting with customers. Several USW offices publish the reports in the local language. Additional links to Harvest Report are available on USW’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

USW wants to thank and acknowledge the organizations that make “Harvest Reports” possible, including:


Each of the six U.S. wheat classes brings unique advantages to the increasingly competitive global wheat market.

First, and perhaps the most important, is consistency in quality and supply. Although each new crop year brings different challenges and opportunities, high-quality U.S. wheat is always available to the global market.

Second, each class of wheat provides the ingredients needed to produce so much of the world’s food. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Vice President of Global Technical Services Mark Fowler makes the point this way: “Our six U.S. wheat classes give our customers the opportunity to optimize taste, texture and appearance of thousands of food products made with flour or semolina.”

Every region, country and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. The United States has the right wheat class and quality to make every one of those products more appealing and valuable.

In the video below, Mark Fowler talks about each of the six wheat classes grown in the United States, their definition, uses and their functional characteristics.

Learn more about the six classes of U.S. wheat here or leave a question in the U.S. Wheat Associates’ “Ask The Expert” section.

Interested in more USW video content? Visit our video library at

Read more about other classes of U.S. wheat in this series.

Hard Red Winter
Hard Red Spring
Hard White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter


The 2020 northern durum crop is notably larger than last year due to a significant increase in planted area with trendline yields, and a dry, steady harvest. Along with increased production, buyers will be pleased with the improved quality of the 2020 crop, especially on factors routinely valued in contract specifications. The crop boasts high test weights, high vitreous kernel contents and falling numbers, improved semolina color and a much lower incidence of DON compared with recent years.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has posted the full 2020 Northern Durum Regional Report on its website here. USW previously reported on the 2020 Desert Durum® crop here, and posted the full 2020 Desert Durum® Regional Report and a Sacramento Valley Durum Report here and here, respectively.


Planting began in early May with slow initial progress due to cool conditions, but dry soils allowed for steady, accelerating progress with planting nearly complete by early June. Drought conditions eased with timely rains mid-season, boosting yield potential. Dry, warm conditions late-season accelerated crop maturity and limited disease pressures.

Harvest began in early August and progressed steadily on favorable weather until completed, ahead of average and well ahead of last year. Regional production is estimated at 1.7 million metric tons (MMT), up nearly 30% from 2019.

Here are highlights of data from the 2020 northern durum wheat crop.

Wheat and Grade Data:

  • Grade – the overall average is U.S. No. 1 Hard Amber Durum (HAD); 87% of the crop grades U.S. No. 1 or 2 Hard Amber Durum (HAD), up markedly from 37% a year ago.
  • Test Weight averages 62.2 lb/bu (80.9 kg/hl), well above last year and the 5-year averages.
  • Total defects average of 1.5% is lower than 2019, as disease pressures were relatively low and harvest weather was near ideal.
  • Vitreous kernel (HVAC) content is 88%, up sharply from 64% in 2019, and also higher than the 5-year averages. Nearly two-thirds of the samples were above 90% HVAC.
  • Wheat Protein averages 13.4% (12% mb), lower than both 2019 and the 5-year averages.
  • 1000 Kernel Weight average of 46.7 g (14% mb) is exceptionally high, above last year and nearly 6 g higher than the 5-year average, due to excellent conditions during kernel development.
  • Wheat Falling Number average of 419 sec, is well above 2019 and higher than the 5-year averages and indicative of sound wheat.
  • DON average is 0.2 ppm, lower than both 2019 and the 5-year averages and disease pressures were minimal in 2020.

Semolina and Processing Data:

  • Semolina Extraction average is 58.5%, up from 2019. Commercial mills will likely see a greater increase in extraction due to high HVAC levels and excellent kernel qualities.
  • Color values are higher than 2019 for both brightness and yellowness.
  • Gluten index values are 74.4%, higher than both 2019 and the 5-year averages.
  • Semolina color values are higher than a year ago, for both brightness and yellowness, and more similar to the 5-year average.
  • Cooked spaghetti evaluations show lower values compared to last year and the 5-year averages with lower cooked weight and less cooked firmness.
  • Mixing properties reveal a slightly weaker crop compared to a year ago, a 6 (scale 1-8), but stronger than the 5-year averages.

Buyers are encouraged to review their quality specifications to ensure that their purchases meet their expectations.

View other summaries of the 2020 U.S. wheat crop:
Hard Red Winter 
Hard Red Spring
Hard White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter

View the full 2020 U.S. Crop Quality Report and other related resources here.


Even in the face of a global pandemic, dependable U.S. wheat farmers persisted in their essential effort to produce the highest quality wheat in the world, while the reliable U.S. export supply system continued operating to move that wheat to the world.

As a key part of its commitment to transparency and trade service, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has produced its annual Crop Quality Report that includes grade, flour and baking data for all six U.S. wheat classes. The report compiles comprehensive data from 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.

The 2020 USW Crop Quality Report is now available for download in EnglishSpanishFrench and Italian. Arabic, Chinese and, for the first time, Portuguese, translations will be available soon. USW also shares more detailed, regional reports for all six U.S. wheat classes on its website, as well as additional information on its sample and collection methods, solvent retention capacity (SRC) recommendations, standard deviation tables and more. Download these reports and resources from the here.

The pandemic has changed other traditional parts of the USW Crop Quality outreach effort. Unfortunately, face-to-face Crop Quality Seminars are not possible in 2020. Instead, USW is preparing a unique way for our customers to experience and gain more knowledge about the 2020 U.S. wheat crops. For more information, please contact your local USW office.

Continue to look for updates from the 2020 USW Crop Quality Seminars on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


The 2020 Desert Durum® crop will again deliver the valuable milling, semolina and pasta quality traits that customers have learned to expect and appreciate.

Desert Durum® is a registered certification mark owned jointly by the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council (AGRPC) and the California Wheat Commission (CWC). The mark certifies or is intended to certify that grain so named is at least 90 percent wheat grain produced under irrigation in the desert valleys and lowlands of Arizona or California.

Before providing details on the new crop Desert Durum® quality, here is a look back by AGRPC Executive Director Allan B. Simons at how this unique and valuable commodity evolved into the identity preserved product it is today.

Historical Perspective

Arizona and California farmers grew durum wheat widely in the decades before 1980. However, the varieties available at the time generally possessed such mediocre milling and semolina flour qualities that this “desert durum” suffered a rather poor reputation among both domestic and foreign semolina millers and pasta makers. Therefore, much of this production was consigned to livestock feed.

Somewhat better quality durum varieties were being grown and even exported by the early 1980s. However, a cross between several northern durum varieties and two high-producing desert varieties, performed by a private cereal breeding firm in 1976 serendipitously produced a line possessing such superior color and pasta quality traits that it was introduced to a major Italian pasta company in 1980/81. The Italian firm began importing this durum, first in containers before moving to cargo ship holds. The variety was awarded a plant variety protection certificate in 1982 and occupied significant crop acreage in Arizona and the Imperial Valley of California by 1983. This variety, with its very desirable qualities, represented the first in a long and continuing line of high-quality durum varieties adapted to the southwestern U.S. deserts now known as Desert Durum®. These varieties are developed and released by Arizona’s private breeding programs to be sold both domestically and overseas.

Arizona Desert Durum® variety trial plots.

About half of annual Desert Durum® production in Arizona and California has been exported for many years, with Italy as the perennial leading export destination. One reason for Italy’s continued purchase of Desert Durum® is its valued semolina quality traits, allowing Italian pasta makers to maintain quality standards as they deal with typically variable grain quality from other sources.

Arizona wheat growers possess very little grain storage capability, so most of the annual Desert Durum® crop is grown to be “identity preserved,” a program by which the grower plants certified seed purchased from the grain handler that will eventually purchase the crop. The grain crops are harvested, delivered and stored by variety for future shipment to fill existing or future customer orders. Also, the handlers continually remind growers of the critical need to maintain production practices needed to achieve the expected quality standards for Desert Durum®. Grain handler representatives annually discuss varietal traits, production conditions, prices, shipping realities and other factors with customers. They also work with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) representatives to support and inform potential Desert Durum® buyers.

Sustainability Metrics

Some domestic and overseas customers of Desert Durum® have adopted certain “sustainability metrics” for their grain purchases that tend to cast an unfavorable reputation on small grains production in some environments. One of their negative metrics determines that wheat grown with substantial irrigation possesses a relatively high “water footprint,” defined as the quantity of water needed to produce a unit of grain.

The AGRPC recently commissioned a University of Arizona study that reviewed a wide range of the topic’s literature and production practices and environments that influence the metric. The study concluded that Arizona’s durum wheat production, as currently practiced, has a water footprint that is lower to much lower than evidenced in many other durum production regions. Furthermore, the report observes that the water footprint values stated or calculated for durum wheat production under Arizona’s conditions are over-stated on many sustainability websites. The report can be accessed on the following website under “2015 Project Reports”:

2020 Crop Quality

Desert Durum® crops in both Arizona and Southern California are grown under weather conditions and management practices that promote consistently favorable grain, milling, and semolina traits. These crops are seldom negatively affected by adverse weather events. The result is grain of consistently large low moisture kernels possessing very high hard amber durum counts and which yield high semolina extraction rates.

Desert Durum® production acreage in 2020 was somewhat greater than in 2019. The combined results of Desert Durum® surveys conducted by the AGRPC and CWC reveals the following crop data. The average grade is No. 1 Hard Amber Durum (HAD). Test weight is 62.3 lb/bu (81.1 kg/hl). The average hard vitreous amber kernel content (HVAC) is 99.0%, a high average typical of Desert Durum®. Average damaged kernels are 0.2% and total defects are 0.6%. Desert Durum® is characterized by its low kernel moisture content and this year’s average is 6.9%. Protein content average is 14.5% (12% mb).

Semolina and Processing Data. The semolina extraction rate average across varieties is 71.1%. The semolina b* value is 32.7, higher than 2019 b* value of 29.2. Wet gluten is 34.7% and gluten index is 87. Semolina Mixograph score is 7 and Alveograph W value is 294 (10-4 J), both of which indicate high strength. Pasta color b* value is 43 and score is 9.6. Pasta cooked firmness is 7.4, higher than 2019.

Whole wheat durum pasta.


The North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) and the U.S. Durum Growers Association (USDGA) held a virtual “Northern Durum Pre-Harvest Update” Aug. 18 featuring industry experts, farmers and university Extension workers reporting on the 2020 northern durum crop. The hosts recorded the session which is now posted on the USDGA YouTube channel here and on the NDWC event page here.

More than 60 participants heard first-hand accounts about what is expected to be a larger crop by about 12 percent compared to 2019, mainly from increased planted area. Yield and quality likely will vary because early planted fields in North Dakota did not get rain at the ideal time for growth and tillering, while later planted fields caught rain in late June into mid-July at the right time for development. Precipitation across Montana’s western durum production region was more timely and yield potential is expected to be more consistent there.

“USDA’s current forecast for North Dakota is 42.8 bushels per acre, which is above the trend line but less than in 2019,” said Jim Peterson, NDWC Policy and Marketing Director. “Production is estimated now at 62 million bushels, or 1.69 million metric tons, in the state.”

Sam Anderson, Industry Analyst and Marketing Coordinator with the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, told the participants that farmers there are generally very pleased with their northern durum crops.

“There was more durum and hard red spring wheat seeded because of the extremely wet conditions last fall that kept farmers from putting in hard red winter wheat,” Anderson said. “As of Aug. 1, the average yield forecast is 38.0 bushels per acre, which would put the total production estimate in the state at 22.42 million bushels,” or more than 610,000 metric tons.

Farmers from across North Dakota also reported from their own fields. Mark Birdsall farms in Ward County and showed some later-seeded durum that has “a really good stand … tall with heavy heads,” that is about 3 weeks from maturity. His grandson Owen held plants from the field that stood close to his height of 5 feet (1.524 meters).

Mark Birdsall’s grandson Owen, who stands about 5 feet (1.524 meters) tall holds plants from a later seeded durum crop that almost match his height.

Blake Inman of Berthold, N.D., is USDGA’s President this year, and noted that his durum looked good, particularly the later-seeded fields. He expects to start his harvest in about 3 weeks but was somewhat concerned about variable maturity and late season weed growth that could cause challenges at harvest.

USDGA President and Berthold, N.D., farmer Blake Inman expects good yields from this northern durum field.

Adam Carney farms in Montana’s “Platinum Square,” as the northeast corner of the state is called. With plenty of timely rains, he says his durum “should provide a nice yield and quality.”

The northern durum harvest is currently underway and is a bit more advanced in Montana. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will soon begin reporting on northern durum quality as samples are collected and analyzed for USW’s 2020 Harvest Report.



For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.

Member: Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council
USW Member since 1987

Location: Phoenix, Ariz.
Classes of Wheat Grown: Durum
USW Leadership: Michael Edgar, 2008/09 Chairman

The Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council utilizes grower check-off funds to aid in marketing for wheat and barley, to participate in research projects and other programs to assist in reducing freshwater consumption, to develop new grain varieties and to improve grain production, harvesting and handling methods. The Council is made up of seven Arizona grain producers appointed by the Governor.

Arizona farmers were growing durum wheat widely in the decades before 1980. As improved varieties were developed to provide consistently excellent semolina for fine quality pasta, growers identified an opportunity to promote their durum overseas. After the AGRPC was authorized by the state legislature in 1985, representatives attended a U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) meeting in 1986 and joined USW in January 1987.

Today, Arizona growers work with USW to promote Desert Durum®, an identity protected by a legal certification mark and owned jointly by the AGRPC and the California Wheat Commission. Desert Durum® is grown only under irrigation in the desert valleys and lowlands of Arizona and California.

Why is export market development important to Arizona wheat farmers and why do they continue to support USW and its activities?

Arizona’s growers are very favorably leveraged by USW’s promotional efforts around the world. Arizona’s growers receive just as much respect from USW and its export promotional programs as do its large wheat-producing members. This has been the case for 33 years and counting.

About half of the annual production of Desert Durum® (Arizona and California combined) has been exported for many years, with Italy as the perennial leading export destination, followed by Nigeria. One reason for Italy’s continued purchase of Desert Durum® is that Italian pasta makers value the consistent semolina quality of Desert Durum® and are willing to pay more for its grain than for durum from other origins.

USW assists its members in numerous ways to educate growers and the public about the importance and role of wheat production and export in their states. Some of the means of providing such assistance include arranging board teams of state representatives to visit existing and potential importing countries and organizing trade teams of foreign customer representatives to visit U.S. wheat class production regions. USW members greatly appreciate these opportunities to promote their wheat classes for both export domestic audiences.

USW also publishes annual crop quality reports that characterize both Northern durum and Desert Durum® separately. This distinction allows potential customers to verify the uniform large kernel size, low moisture content, and other grain and processing traits of Desert Durum® that produce very desirable semolina quality.

How have Arizona wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

One member of AGRPC has integrated export market development work through USW into his company’s efforts to provide customers with high quality grains for Identity Preserved markets. Michael Edgar, President of Barkley Seeds, Yuma, Ariz., for more than 30 years has participated in several overseas trade missions organized by USW, including his engagement in a trip to Morocco, Italy and Israel in 2016 to promote Desert Durum® and other U.S. wheat classes. Edgar served as an officer with USW including as its Chair in 2008/09.

AGRPC member Michael Edgar has worked for more than 30 years with USW to promote exports of Desert Durum® and all U.S. wheat classes. Here Edgar (right) accepts the USW Chairman’s gavel in 2008 from outgoing Chairman Ron Suppes, a Kansas Wheat commission member and farmer.

Edgar (second from left) joined other farmer directors of USW on a trade mission to Italy, Morocco and Israel in 2016.

AGRPC member Eric Wilkey has traveled to Latin America with a USW board team, joined by growers from Montana and Oklahoma. He learned that the excellent quality of Desert Durum® is recognized by pasta makers in that region.

Arizona and grower members of AGRPC have also been privileged to entertain numerous USW trade teams from most of the regions that have traveled to the U.S. to learn about the country’s durum producers and their production efforts.

AGRPC member Eric Wilkey joined growers from Montana and Oklahoma on a USW trade team to Latin America.

In 2012, Wilkey described the nature of the Desert Durum® industry to members of Group FORAFRIC, a Moroccan milling firm, who made a self-sponsored visit to Arizona and California, facilitated by USW, to investigate the production and purchase of Desert Durum®.

What is happened lately in Arizona that overseas customers should know about?

Arizona hosts several private breeding programs that focus intensely on the varietal traits desired by local wheat growers, such as yield, standability and pest resistance, as well as the quality traits that pasta manufacturing customers covet, including bright amber color, strong gluten strength and high falling number.

Here is a wheat breeding nursery like those maintained by each of the private breeding enterprises in Arizona, which has no publicly supported wheat breeding program. AGRPC does support grain production research conducted by the University of Arizona.

AGRPC recently commissioned a University of Arizona study that reviewed a wide range of literature related to water use by irrigated grain production in a desert environment. The paper concluded that Arizona’s durum wheat production, as currently practiced, has a water footprint that is lower, to much lower, than evidenced in many other durum production regions.

Learn more about the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council on its website here and on Facebook.


For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.

Member: Montana Wheat and Barley Committee
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Great Falls, Mont.
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard Red Spring (HRS), Durum
USW Leadership:  James E. Jenks, 1984/85 Chairman; Richard Sampsen, 1995/96 Chairman; Leonard Schock, 2006/07 Chairman; Janice Mattson, 2009/10 Chairperson; Chris Kolstad, 2018/19 Chairman.

The mission of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee (MWBC) is to protect and foster the health and prosperity of the Montana wheat and barley industry by encouraging scientific research to improve production and quality; maintaining current markets; promoting new market development; and serving as an educational and informational resource.

2018/19 Chairman Chris Kolstad from Montana (R) passes the gavel to 2019/20 Chairman Doug Goyings from Ohio.

Why is export market development important to Montana wheat farmers and why do they continue to support USW and its activities?

Montana exports most of its wheat to partners around the world. Wheat production in the state is logistically advantaged to efficiently fill shuttle trains with hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) bound for the Pacific Northwest (PNW) ports. Montana’s wheat is often considered as improver classes because it offers strong functional characteristics. The extreme summer heat and extreme winter cold together are conducive to growing excellent small grains with high protein. Montana wheat is desired by quality-conscious customers, making the Pacific Rim our largest market. Market development efforts are very important to Montana farmers and USW plays a key role in identifying potential markets and maintaining existing markets. Our farmers have invested in these efforts since 1967 when our committee was formed, and our very low checkoff refund rate shows Montana farmers understand the value of these efforts.

Montana wheat farmer and USW Director Denise Conover traveled with USW to Tanzania and Kenya in November 2019 to learn more about food aid programs and wheat monetization. Read more.

How have Montana wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

MWBC hosts upwards of 100 overseas trade team visitors each year. Our farmers love hosting trade delegations and are quick to open their homes to our guests. Showcasing a way of life that often spans many generations is a great point of pride for Montana farmers, and discussions on best practices and planting decisions often lead to 3-hour dinners and forming long-term connections. Montana farmers view our overseas customers as an extended family.

Current circumstances are transforming the way we reach customers, including taking part in weekly updates and virtual meetings hosted by USW. MWBC is being proactive in our efforts as the uncertainty associated with the pandemic has brought challenges. However, our farmers are not slowing down. They are working their hardest to continue to supply the market with the highest quality wheat in the world.

A USW 2019 trade delegation from Japan visiting a farm in Montana.

What is happening lately in Montana that overseas customers should know about?

  • We are developing a video series that creates a virtual trade delegation experience and focuses on what a visitor would learn and experience if they were visiting Montana in person. The series will tour the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) certified State Grain Lab with a look at the grading process and factors that set Montana wheat apart, and feature a farm tour to present crop rotation, precision agriculture and other sustainable practices.
  • Montana State University (MSU) has done an excellent job keeping research projects moving forward during the pandemic and is hiring a new endowed chair and HRS wheat breeder. Montana farmers invest over $2 million every year in wheat and barley research.
  • MSU wheat breeding programs continue to focus on quality, traits like low PPO and increased stability and developing durum varieties.

Montana farmers would like to thank USW for their continued efforts in developing and maintaining overseas markets. Without these efforts a lot of us would not be able to do what we love out in “Big Sky Country.” Many Montana farmers have hosted overseas visitors traveling with USW and have made lifelong friendships and memories because of it. Those experiences have outlasted cultural, political and historical differences over the last 50+ years for MWBC.

Learn more about the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee on its website here and on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.


A trade delegation of Japanese executive millers visited 2018/19 USW Chairman and Montana wheat farmer Chris Kolstad on his farm in 2019.

Janice Mattson, a wheat farmer from Montana, was USW’s first female chair in 2009/10. She was also featured in a 4-part series about the U.S. wheat supply chain system in 2014. View that series here.


Al Klempel (L), a wheat farmer from Montana, traveled with USW to Spain, Portugal and Morocco on a board team trip in 2019. The team is pictured here with equipment sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates at the IFIM milling school in Casablanca. Read more.

Leonard Schock, 2006/07 USW Chairman and a Montana wheat farmer presented at the 2016 North Asia Marketing Conference in Guam.


2018/19 USW Chairman Chris Kolstad, a wheat farmer from Montana, and NAWG President, Ben Scholz, a wheat farmer from Texas, represented the U.S. wheat industry at the 2017 National Association of Farm Broadcasting Trade Talk event.




For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.

Member: Idaho Wheat Commission
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Boise, Idaho
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard Red Spring (HRS), Hard White (HW), Soft White (SW), Durum
USW Leadership: Boyd Schwieder, 2005/06 Chairman; Jim McDonald, 2002/03 Chairman; Jerry Kress, 1998/99 Chairman; Dallin Reese, 1987/88 Chairman

Wheat is grown in 42 of Idaho’s 44 counties and ranks as the state’s second largest crop, behind potatoes. About half of Idaho’s crop goes to domestic mills and the other half is exported, primarily through Pacific Northwest (PNW) ports to Asian and Latin American customers. Idaho typically ranks in the top seven U.S. states for wheat production. An average of 1.2 million acres of wheat is planted each year and yields per acre are among the highest in the nation.

IWC Commissioner and wheat farmer Clark Hamilton was a member of the 2016 USW Board team that traveled to Japan and Korea.

Why is export market development important to Idaho wheat farmers and why do they continue to support USW and its activities?

Idaho exports about half of its wheat, but strong global demand contributes to the profitability of all Idaho growers by increasing farmgate wheat prices. Through its partnership with USW, the Idaho Wheat Commission (IWC) leverages the market intelligence and valuable customer relationships established around the world, in order to find new markets and sustain demand in established markets. USW programs bring the customers and growers together, facilitating a personal connection that is key to the continued success of the Idaho and U.S. wheat industries. We are grateful to USW for the work their team does to develop and maintain relationships for our growers with buyers in other countries and we wish for many more prosperous years to come.

IWC Commissioner and wheat farmer Joe Anderson (second from left) participated on the 2019 USW South Asia Board Team trip to the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.

How have Idaho wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

Idaho hosts multiple international trade delegations each year from many different countries. Participants follow the entire supply chain to see how wheat gets from the ground to its destination in the mill. These customers visit quality control labs and wheat breeding programs, visit farms and see how growers take care to produce high-quality wheat and then go on to visit the local grain handlers who move the wheat by rail, barge and container. Idaho is unique in that it has an inland “ocean port.” At the Lewis-Clark Terminal in Lewiston, Idaho, wheat is loaded onto barges that travel down the Columbia-Snake River System to the export facilities near Portland, Ore.

Additionally, IWC commissioners and staff regularly participate in events overseas. Recently, for example, Commissioner Clark Hamilton joined Idaho Governor Brad Little in a goodwill mission to Taiwan, a country with which IWC has a long and fruitful relationship. Commissioner Bill Flory also visited Japan with USW to meet with longtime friends of IWC and major buyers of SW, HRS and HRW wheat.

With the current travel restrictions, IWC is working to connect virtually with customers through USW online programs.

IWC Commissioner Bill Flory hosted the 2019 Philippine Trade Team on his farm.

What is happening lately in Idaho that overseas customers should know about?

  • Wheat growers in Idaho are diligently tending to their crops and working like any other year, despite the global pandemic. Favorable weather throughout the growing season has the crop in excellent condition just a few weeks from the start of harvest. The transportation system is running smoothly, and customers can expect mostly normal operations. The Columbia-Snake River System is critical for reliably and affordably shipping grains from the PNW to overseas markets.
  • Our new executive director, Casey Chumrau, has extensive international wheat marketing experience gained as a marketing manager for USW’s South American region, based in Santiago, Chile, and as a USW market analyst.*
  • IWC invests one-third of its annual budget into research that will help Idaho growers produce high-quality wheat that customers demand. Research ranges from production practices to end-use quality.

Learn more about the Idaho Wheat Commission on its website here and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

*USW wants to thank Blaine Jacobson, who recently retired after many years as IWC’s executive director, for his dedicated service to wheat farmers and support for export market development.

Longtime IWC Executive Director Blaine Jacobson (L) retired in June 2020 after 18 years of service. He’s show here being congratulated by IWC Chairman Ned Moon.

IWC Commissioner and wheat farmer Jerry Brown represented Idaho at the 2017 USW Crop Quality Seminars in Asia.

IWC Commissioner Clark Hamilton (directly behind photo in white), a farmer from Idaho, participated on the 2018 USW Board Team that traveled to China and Taiwan.

IWC Commissioner and Idaho wheat farmer Bill Flory traveled to Japan with USW to participate in the 2019 Japan Buyers Conference.