In the increasingly competitive global wheat market, it is important to review the advantages that U.S. wheat delivers to millers and bakers. This post examines the advantages that hard red spring wheat brings to the market.

This post discusses the value U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat brings to the global market. HRS is the second largest wheat class with a five-year annual average production of 13.7 million metric tons (MMT)or about 504 million bushels as of 2020/21. It accounts for about 26% of the total wheat produced in the United States.

The three subclasses of HRS include Dark Northern Spring (DNS) with 75% or more of dark, hard and vitreous (DHV) kernels; Northern Spring (NS) with 25% or more but less than 75% DHV kernels; and Red Spring (RS) with less than 25% DHV kernels.

Milling Advantages

U.S. HRS wheat poses some unique opportunities and challenges to the miller. HRS is the hardest of all the non-durum classes of wheat but also has the smallest average kernel size. Millers experienced with HRS in their grist know excellent results can be achieved with some adjustments.

First, adjusting the screen sizes of separating equipment in the cleaning house will reduce the risk of losing good quality but also results in smaller kernels. A longer conditioning time is needed to ensure the tempering water fully penetrates the harder HRS wheat kernels. Optimal conditioning time is dependent on several factors, but in most cases, HRS will require a minimum of 20 hours for optimal conditioning time. The miller’s reward for these adjustments is higher than average flour yield from the harder, more compact HRS endosperm. The hard endosperm creates excellent granulation through the break system to provide an abundance of stock to the purifiers. This allows the miller to maximize flour with low ash and excellent color throughout the head end of the mill.

Baking Advantages

Because of the high protein content and strong dough characteristic of U.S. hard red spring wheat flour, it is commonly used in a blend to improve the performance of a lower protein base flour. Only a few end products such as artisan-style bread, whole wheat products, and bagels may be made with 100% HRS flour to achieve optimal performance. For nearly any type of bread or leavened bread product such as thick pizza crust, the greatest value of HRS flour comes from blending it with a lower protein, lower-cost flour to create optimal ingredients for individual products. In markets where consumers demand a “clean label,” HRS flour blended with HRW or other wheat flour can create better water absorption and loaf volume while using less or no chemical dough improvers. And many pasta makers around the world know that when traditional durum wheat semolina is not needed, HRS wheat flour or semolina is a very acceptable alternative.

U.S. Wheat Advantages

As we highlight each class in this series, let us not forget the advantages that all U.S. wheat classes bring to the market. First, and perhaps the most important, is consistency in quality and supply. Although each new crop year brings different challenges and opportunities, U.S. wheat is always available to the global market. Second, U.S. wheat delivers variety. Wheat is a raw material manufactured into a bakery ingredient, flour. The flour made from each unique class of U.S. wheat brings value to the market in the unique quality characteristics to make a variety of baked goods and noodles. It is also important to understand the value of blending flour from one or more types of wheat to optimize the flour performance at a minimal cost.

Each region, country, and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six unique wheat classes, the United States has the right wheat class to deliver the optimal quality and value for every variety of products on the market.

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.

By Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services

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

Hard Red Winter
Hard White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter


The U.S. 2021 Hard Red Spring (HRS) crop endured significant drought conditions, leading to a sharp yield reduction and increased abandonment. Despite the moisture stressed growing season, the quality parameters of the crop are very good, with high protein content, high vitreous levels, low kernel moisture and sound kernels. Buyers will be pleased with this year’s improved dough strength and higher absorption values. With reduced supply and isolated areas with higher levels of shrunken and broken and lighter 1000 kernel weights, buyers should always remain diligent in their contract specifications.

2021 map of 2021 hard red spring wheat production and sampling

Weather and Harvest

Limited moisture allowed for fast planting, but cool temperatures or overly dry topsoil delayed emergence in parts of the growing region. Above-average temperatures, minimal precipitation and high winds stressed a significant share of the crop. A dry, rapid harvest period limited disease pressures and benefitted kernel quality parameters. USDA estimates production at 8.1 million metric tons, 44% below last year.

2021 Crop Highlights

  • Grade – the overall average is U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring (DNS).
  • Test Weight averages 61.3 lb/bu (80.6 kg/hl), slightly lower than the 2020 and 5-year averages.
  • Vitreous Kernel Levels (DHV) improved, averaging 80% compared to 71% in 2020.
  • Protein averages 15.4% (12% mb), above 2020 and 5-year averages.
  • DON levels were near zero due to minimal disease pressures.
  • 1000 Kernel Weight average is 29 g, below 2020 and 5-year averages.
  • Falling Number average is 377 sec, benefited by a rapid, dry harvest.
  • Wet Gluten averages 37.4%, notably higher than 2020 and 5-year averages, supported by high kernel protein content.
  • Amylograph values average 732 BU for 65 g of flour, up notably from recent levels.
  • Farinograph testing indicates a much stronger crop than in recent years, with an average stability of 18.8 min.
  • Alveograph and Extensograph analyses show greater resistance and less extensibility.
  • Loaf Volume average is 952 cc, lower than 2020 and 5-year averages.
  • Bake Absorption average is 66.4%, down from 2020 but similar to the 5-year average.
  • Bread Scores are higher than 2020 and 5-year averages.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has posted more about the 2021 hard red spring crop here and the full regional report here.

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

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


The concept of “clean label” products is complex but increasingly important in food production and marketing. In 2018, a blog by the chief science and technology officer for the U.S.-based Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) noted that clean label is not a scientific term.

“Rather, it is a consumer term that has been broadly accepted by the food industry, consumers, academics, and even regulatory agencies,” the IFT scientist wrote. “Essentially, clean label means making a product using as few ingredients as possible … that consumers recognize and think of as wholesome—ingredients that consumers might use at home … with easy-to-recognize ingredients and no artificial ingredients or synthetic chemicals.”

Familiar Example

Clean label has become associated with consumer trust in food producers. The main challenge associated with clean label products arises in part from regulations requiring labels to use scientific names for ingredients. Food makers know their ingredients are wholesome and safe, but the label may put off consumers without a scientific background. For example, the IFT clean label blog demonstrated the potential challenge for consumers who may be reading this familiar label: “Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid Enzyme,” and not know that these are the scientific names for the ingredients in all-purpose flour found in homes around the world.

Expert Insight for the Baker

Food scientist Dr. Senay Simsek is well-known and respected by many of the world’s U.S. wheat end-product producers, serving as a U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) consultant and as past head of the Wheat Quality & Carbohydrate Research Program at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Before her 2021 appointment as professor and Head of the Food Science Department at Purdue University, Dr. Simsek gave a detailed video presentation on the issue of clean labeling in the baking industry for USW’s 2020 U.S. Wheat Crop Quality program.

In that presentation, Dr. Simsek noted that the clean label concept is globally recognized. She cited a survey conducted in the Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North America, indicating that almost half of consumers define clean label as “free from artificial ingredients.”

In studies at her NDSU program, Dr. Simsek had a graduate assistant identify all ingredients that can be found in baked bread products. In addition to flour and water, her team identified 53 different ingredients “with so many names that people have difficulty understanding like distilled monoglycerides or calcium peroxide, but which all have functionality.”

Dr. Simsek provided an in-depth look at many of the key ingredients and their bread baking functionality in the video. Noting the list of alternative dough strengthening ingredients, Dr. Simsek turned to the results of a study by her NDSU program comparing the performance of several alternative ingredient combinations.

The Clean Label Potential of Spring Wheat Flour

“The question was, can there an alternative to added chemical ingredients to strengthen the gluten structure in a way that is accepted by consumers and simplifies the label on white and whole wheat bread products?” she said.

The study used a commonly accepted winter wheat flour base as a control. Several formulations with spring wheat flour were added at different ratios to the base. Vital wheat gluten and different chemical dough strengtheners were also added to various formulations that were all baked and compared.

Conclusion Simsek Clean Label Bread Study

Dr. Simsek’s team at NDSU studied the effects on quality by adding strong gluten spring wheat to bread formulations compared to added dough strengthening agents. Replacing chemical agents with a simple flour ingredient could improve quality and simplify commercial baked product labels.

“In white bread, [crumb] firmness values were lower in the spring wheat blends compared to the control,” Dr. Simsek said in the USW video presentation. “If we just look at the bread comparing with chemicals versus the spring wheat blends, spring wheat blends were more functional, and they provided a better product compared to chemicals. Overall quality in terms of spring wheat blends versus the chemical, water observation was equal or better than additives, farinograph stability was better than additives, and the loaf volumes were equal or better than additives.”

Similar results were seen in whole wheat bread comparisons, Dr. Simsek said.

Noting that more investigation into the clean label potential of added strong gluten flour is needed to expand understanding, Dr. Simsek said, “the take-home message is that spring wheat could be a good option to replace oxidizing agents in bread formulations to have clean label bakery products.”



Originally printed in Dakota Gold, June 2020, Volume 37, No. 4; Reprinted with permission from the North Dakota Wheat Commission

Dr. Senay Simsek, Bert L. D’Appolonia Cereal Science and Technology of Wheat Endowed Professor, will be leaving North Dakota State University (NDSU) at the end of June to take a position at Purdue University as the head of the Food Science Department. Even though she may be leaving NDSU, the work that she has done will leave a lasting impact.

Dr. Simsek began her career at NDSU in 2007 after obtaining her Ph.D. from Purdue. While she was fairly new to world of wheat, her background in cereal and food chemistry prepared her well for the role.

A significant portion of Dr. Simsek’s position has been to manage the wheat quality lab at NDSU. The lab analyzes thousands of spring wheat lines each year, including breeder material and samples for the regional crop quality report that is used by thousands of customers each year. Simsek also took on numerous graduate students in her 14 years at NDSU, training the next generation of cereal science professionals. She completed extensive amounts of research, mostly related to wheat quality and performance, many of the ideas which came about after discussions with domestic and international customers and her desire to help solve issues or answer questions customers had about various topics.

Showing Dr. Senay Simsek at work for USW in the Philippines

During one of her many consulting activities promoting U.S. spring wheat, Dr. Senay Simsek paused with Ellison Dean Lee, Managing Director, Universal Robina Co. Flour, Philippines, to point out the American Quality Wheat seal on packages of URC’s Baker John brand pan bread.

Clear Competence

Joe Sowers, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Regional Vice President based in the Philippines recalls the first time he met Dr. Simsek in Fargo with a high-level delegation of Filipino millers.

“Through Senay’s affable charisma and clear competence in discussing wheat quality, she and the millers became fast friends. At the end of the meeting the Director of the Philippine Flour Millers Association told me that training from Dr. Simsek was what his industry needed,” Sowers said.

The next year Dr. Simsek provided her first training to the Philippine millers and returned ten times after that, fostering strong relationships with millers in the Philippines and helping to maintain the country as the top HRS market. Dr. Simsek provided training in many other countries and presented on USW sponsored crop quality tours in all the major regions – reaching thousands of customers during her career at NDSU.

“Every visit Senay made to various customers around the world paid off for U.S. wheat farmers,” Sowers added. “Her ability to illustrate the superior quality profiles offered by U.S. HRS was integral in proving its value to the milling and baking industries, reinforcing their preference for U.S. HRS.”

Passion for Wheat Quality

Presenting quality data, conducting training, and completing research on behalf of customers became a top priority for Simsek and one that benefited producers tremendously. Greg Svenningsen, NDWC Chairman says, “when you saw her interacting with a trade team, you could easily see her passion for wheat quality and that her expertise was well received by customers. As a producer, I didn’t always understand the topic or the in-depth technicalities of some of the discussion, but what was evident was that she was providing much needed information to the industry and to our customers. In return, they could better understand our wheat and be maintained as customers.”

Dr. Senay Simsek at Northern Crops Institute

Dr. Senay Simsek enjoys a light moment with USW Regional Vice President Matt Weimar (L) and USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung (R) during one of the many events in which she participated with USW.

Sowers and others in the industry that traveled with Dr. Simsek over the years noted that her energy, friendliness, and willingness to build relationships with customers melded with her extensive scientific background to make her a sought-after resource for customers. While Dr. Simsek will be missed by colleagues at NDSU and North Dakota producers, we hope to see her involved with U.S. wheat promotion in some format.

Dr. Senay Simsek and USW's Joe Sowers at Philippines flour mill.

Dr. Senay Simsek and USW Regional Vice President Joe Sowers (L) with a flour milling team in the Philippines.


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 U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Board of Directors includes wheat farmer leaders appointed to represent each of the 17 state wheat commissions that are members of USW and meets three times during each marketing year (June to May). For each of the meetings, the USW Market Analyst prepares a “Wheat Supply and Demand Outlook” report based on USDA market data to provide an update on the global and U.S. wheat market. The full Winter 2021 report is posted at

The report includes sections on world wheat supply and demand, wheat production in the major wheat exporting countries and regions, including U.S. wheat production by class, timely reports such as U.S. wheat seeded area, and U.S. commercial wheat sales.

World Production and Use data from the Winter 2021 Wheat Supply and Demand Outlook

The latest report, prepared Jan. 27, 2021, indicates marketing year 2020/21 is a significant one, with several records set. For example, USDA expects global wheat production to reach 773 million metric tons (MMT) following increased annual production in Australia, Russia and Canada among exporting countries. World wheat trade is expected to increase 1% to a record 194 MMT, which would be 7% more than the 5-year average. With strong carryover from 2019/20 and increased production, global wheat ending stocks are projected at 313 MMT, with China expected to hold 159 MMT and India 31.3 MMT of that total at the end of 2020/21. U.S wheat ending stocks, however, are expected to be the lowest since 2014/15.

USDA has also reported that U.S. winter wheat seeded area (including hard red winter, soft red winter, fall seeded soft white, hard white and Desert Durum®) increased for the first time since 2013/14. Hutchins notes in the report that beneficial field conditions and strong farmgate price potential at planting time motivated hard red winter and soft red winter wheat producers to increase planted area from last year.

U.S. Winter wheat planted area data from the Winter 2021 Wheat Supply and Demand Outlook

View the full Winter 2021 Wheat Supply and Demand Outlook at


U.S. wheat farm families grow six distinct classes of wheat across the diverse landscape of the United States. Those farmers take great care in producing the highest quality wheat in the most sustainable ways possible to honor their family legacies and to ensure greater value for their customers at home and abroad. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people.

Hucke Farms: Angie and Will Hucke are third-generation farmers and ranchers from Geraldine, about 40 miles (65 km) east of Great Falls in Montana’s “Golden Triangle,” where they grow winter wheat, spring wheat, hay barley and occasionally rotate in yellow peas. Previously, Angie had a corporate job and opted to leave that lifestyle to return to the family farm. Part of returning to the family farm meant being involved in their community and raising their son, Arrow (11), and daughter, Jetta (9) in an environment where they learn about “hard work, taking pride in a job well done and learning that work can be fun.” This year, Arrow drove the grain cart – his first time helping with harvest, and it was clear how excited and proud he was. Both are very involved in 4-H, rodeo, and helping with chores on the farm.

Location: Geraldine, Mont.
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Hard Red Winter (HRW) and Hard Red Spring (HRS)
Leadership: Angie Hucke: President, Miss Rodeo Montana, Inc; Vice President, Geraldine Action Committee; emergency medical technician (EMT); and 4-H leader. Will Hucke: Captain, Geraldine Volunteer Fire Department; Board Member, Chouteau County Livestock Protective Association; high school girls basketball coach; and 4-H leader. Arrow Hucke: Vice President, Willing Workers 4-H Club; and Treasurer, Geraldine Middle School. Jetta Hucke: Reporter, Willing Workers 4H Club.

View other videos and stories in this “Stories from the Wheat Farm” series:

The Next Generation in Kansas
Loving the Work in Ohio
Committed to Stewardship in Washington
Living with Purpose in North Dakota
A Passion for the Land in Oklahoma
Committed to Wheat Quality in Oregon


The 2020 U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat crop boasts excellent kernel and grade qualities, with significantly improved kernel soundness compared to 2019. The crop had significantly higher vitreous kernel and falling number values. The crop shows less extensibility and more resistance compared to 2019, but similar to the 5-year average. Other quality factors include improved dough strength with very high bread scores. With above-average supplies and high-quality parameters, the 2020 U.S. HRS crop offers excellent value to buyers.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has posted the full 2020 Hard Red Spring Wheat Quality Report on its website here.

Cool temperatures slowed planting and emergence in parts of the growing region. Timely mid-season rains and a dry, rapid harvest period limited disease pressures and benefitted kernel quality parameters. USDA estimates production at 14.4 million metric tons (MMT), slightly higher than the 2019 crop on reduced planting area.

Here are a few highlights from the 2020 HRS wheat crop.

Wheat and Grade Data:

  • Grade the average grade on the 2020 samples is a No. 1 Northern Spring (NS).
  • Test Weight average of 61.8 lb/bu (81.3 kg/hl) is higher than 2019 and 5-year averages.
  • Vitreous kernel levels (DHV) are notably higher, with overall samples averaging 71%. Nearly two-thirds of the Western samples make the Dark Northern Spring (DNS) subclass.
  • Wheat Protein averages 14.3% (12% mb) protein, similar to 2019 and 5-year averages.
  • DON average is 0.2 ppm, down from 0.6 in 2019.
  • 1000 Kernel Weight average is 31.5 g, heavier than 2019 and 5-year averages, due to good kernel fill conditions.
  • Wheat Falling Number average is 374 sec, a vast improvement in kernel soundness across the crop.

Flour, Dough and Baking Data:

  • Laboratory Mill Flour Extractions average 67.4%, lower than 2019 and 5-year averages.
  • Flour ash was similar to 2019 at 0.52%, while flour color showed higher L* color scores in both regions.
  • Flour Wet Gluten Contents average 33%, lower than both 2019 and 5-year averages.
  • Amylograph values average 642 BU for 65 g of flour, sharply higher than 2019.
  • Farinograph indicates the crop has lower absorption compared to last year and 5-year averages. The average farinograph stability is 12.1 min, significantly stronger than 2019 and the 5-year averages.
  • Alveograph P/L ratio average is 0.59, similar to 2019, but lower than 5-year average and the W-value increased to 368 (10-4 J), up from 2019.
  • Extensograph analyses shows less extensibility and more resistance compared to 2019, but similar to 5-year averages. The overall extensibility and resistance to extension of the 135 min extensograph are 12.8 cm and 856 BU, with slightly more extensibility across Eastern areas.
  • Loaf volume average is 973, smaller than 2019, but similar to 5-year averages. Average bake absorption is 67.4%, higher than 5-year averages. Bread scores are similar in both regions in 2020, with Western area slightly lower than a year ago while the Eastern area is slightly higher.


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