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The new crop U.S. wheat harvest is underway in south Texas and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will publish its first “Harvest Report” for marketing year 2020/21 on Friday, May 29.

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. USW/Mexico City also publishes the report in Spanish.

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

  • California Wheat Commission Laboratory;
  • Durum Wheat Quality and Pasta Processing Laboratory, North Dakota State University (NDSU)
  • Great Plains Analytical Laboratory;
  • Plains Grains, Inc.;
  • State Wheat Commissions;
  • USDA/Federal Grain Inspection Service;
  • USDA/Foreign Agricultural Service;
  • USDA/Agricultural Research Service Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory;
  • USDA/National Agricultural Statistics Service;
  • Wheat Marketing Center;
  • Wheat Quality & Carbohydrate Research, Department of Plant Sciences, NDSU;
  • Wheat Quality Council.

 

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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: Washington Grain Commission
USW Member since 1980  

Location: Spokane, Washington
Classes of Wheat Grown: Soft White (SW) and White Club, Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard Red Spring (HRS) and Hard White (HW)
USW Leadership: Wayne Klindworth, 1990/91 Chairman; Christopher Shaffer, 1999/00 Chairman; Randy Suess 2011/12; Mike Miller 2017/18 Chairman

The goal of the Washington Wheat Commission (WGC) when it was chartered in 1958 was “to do as a group what cannot be done alone.” Now, more than half a century later, the organization, known as the Washington Grain Commission since 2009, is none the less committed to developing and improving existing markets for Eastern Washington farmers. The WGC is committed to growing market share in existing, emerging, and new markets around the world. Through promotion, trade, transportation and policy activities, and research on end use qualities, the WGC can carry the wheat legacy first brought by the famed American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who, it’s said, planted the first Washington wheat in 1805.

2017-18 USW Officers, including Washington wheat farmer Mike Miler as the new installed 2017/18 Chairman.

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

While around 46 percent of the nation’s wheat crop is exported, upwards of 90 percent of Eastern Washington’s wheat crop heads overseas. About 80 percent of Washington’s production is in soft white wheat, used in sponge cakes, cookies and crackers.

Although we constantly emphasize quality, consistency is just as important as end product manufacturers need a wheat that will perform each and every time in the high throughput environment of modern food manufacturing facilities as well as in more artisan type uses. Having USW’s technical staff overseas is incredibly important. Their ability to troubleshoot problems and provide solutions is one aspect. The other is simply their enthusiasm for wheat sourced from the United States and how they communicate that commitment to customers.

How have Washington wheat farmers recently interacted with overseas customers?

Washington hosts upwards to a dozen trade teams a year from customers located in the Pacific Rim and Latin America. These opportunities not only allow us to educate buyers about the quality and performance of Eastern Washington wheat, they provide a venue for them to see wheat growing in a field in one of the most beautiful growing regions in the world.

With the WGC based out of Spokane, we also can introduce customers to wheat breeders at Washington State University and the Western Wheat Quality Lab in Pullman, where wheat samples are milled and evaluations of their quality tested. We also regularly take them to our nearby shuttle train loading facilities and to barge loading facilities on the Snake/Columbia River System. Due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have more recently been keeping touch with our customers with the help of USW, through phone calls, emails, videos, virtual meetings and even through the WGC podcast which has listeners overseas.

WGC CEO Glen Squires (R) with a U.S. wheat customer from Southeast Asia during the 2019 wheat harvest in Eastern Washington.

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

Club wheat, which is a sub class of soft white wheat, has received increased attention thanks to an initiative with the Japanese. Technical exchange between breeders and Japanese milling representatives has helped identify specific end-product quality needs. This kind of cooperation is crucial in terms of getting customers what they want. We also have dialogue with private breeding companies of the absolute necessity of releasing high quality varieties. Our Preferred Wheat Variety brochure helps in that process.

Washington wheat farmers are actively tending to the wheat crop as they do every year to ensure the highest quality wheat is available for our customers. Field work is underway, equipment is being maintained and the crop is being tended in this moment of COVID-19 distancing protocols. Wheat breeders are actively working on new varieties and wheat variety quality testing efforts remain a key focus. The grain handling systems, including the railroads and river barge system, are fully operational as well. There are no delays in providing our overseas customers with high quality grain to meet their needs.

Learn more about the Washington Grain Commission on its website and on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

A 2018 USW Trade Delegation from the Philippines visited the Washington Grain Commission and met with several farmers.

Randy Suess, retired Washington wheat farmer and 2011/12 USW Chairman, traveled to several countries with USW including Yemen where this picture was taken. Read more about Randy’s experiences here.

Tsung-Yuan (John) Lin (R) a U.S. wheat customer from Taiwan in Washington with Washington Grain Commission staff in a soft white wheat field.

Washington wheat farmer Mike Carstensen was a member of the 2018 USW Board team that traveled to North Asia, including to this visit to a Chinese bakery.

 

Washington wheat farmer Gary Bailey was a member of the 2016 USW Board team that traveled to Japan and Korea.

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Kansas Wheat and Kansas State University Research and Extension, in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Agriculture and other industry partners, have announced plans to hold a virtual tour of hard red winter (HRW) wheat in the state May 18 to 21, 2020.

In a news release this week, Kansas Wheat noted that there is always a lot of interest in the condition and yield potential of the new U.S. HRW crop, with particular attention to the Wheat Quality Council (WQC) Hard Winter Wheat Tour in May. That event, conducted annually for the past 50 years aims to give a snapshot of the crop to those who attend, including international buyers, wheat farmers, flour millers and others in the wheat industry.

Unfortunately, with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WQC tour had to be cancelled this year.

While the virtual tour will be based loosely on the familiar WQC concept, there will be no caravans of cars traveling across wheat country. Alternatively, certified crop advisors, extension agents, elevator managers, farmers and others will be in the fields to make observations of the crop and report results publicly on the Zoom video conference platform. Twitter has been a popular way to follow the tour in the pasts and will be again during this virtual tour by following #wheattour20.

The virtual tour will begin Monday afternoon, May 18, at 4:00 p.m. CDT, with an orientation and comments from industry representatives including Aaron Harries, VP of Research and Operations, Kansas Wheat who will provide an overview of crop conditions and this year’s yield formula provided by USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. The formula will not be available prior to that time. Dr. Romulo Lollato, Wheat and Forages Production Specialist, Kansas State University, and Jeanne Falk Jones, Multi-County Specialist, Northwest Research-Extension Center, Kansas State University, will discuss this year’s crop and talk about weather challenges, including drought and freeze injury as well as disease pressure such as from stripe rust.

There will be a lot fewer muddy boots on the virtual HRW wheat tour in 2020 as local farmers, extension and industry participants collect data and share it on the Zoom platform. 

As it is in the WQC tour, data will be gathered Tuesday from fields in north central and northwest Kansas. The Day 1 wrap-up meeting Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. CDT, will summarize the day’s observations and provide an estimated yield potential using the formula provided by USDA/NASS. Day 2 will continue through west central and southwest Kansas, and day 3 will focus on south central and central Kansas. Daily wrap-ups will be provided each afternoon at 4:00 p.m. CDT, with a final crop discussion Thursday afternoon, May 21.

To see more information, view the schedule and sign up to receive invitations to the Zoom discussions, visit https://kswheat.com/virtualtour.

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For the first time in its 50-year history, the Wheat Quality Council (WQC) Hard Winter Wheat Tour has been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) knows that its customers around the world look forward to the snapshot of new hard red winter (HRW) wheat crop yield potential the tour provides.

We want our customers to know that plans are being made to conduct a limited, virtual tour of the Kansas wheat crop during the week of May 18. Organizers are working with certified crop advisors, Extension agents, elevators, farmers and others in the field to make yield and quality observations of the crop and share information during the tour.

The organizers and USW will provide more information about the planned virtual hard winter wheat tour as soon as it is available. Stay tuned to #wheattour20 for future updates.

This week in Wheat Letter, USW Market Analyst Claire Hutchins shared information about challenges from freeze damage and increasingly dry conditions to the crop in the Central and Southern Plains. In addition, several state organizations report on new crop progress at the following links:

Colorado – https://coloradowheat.org/category/news-events/winter-wheat-crop-progress-report/

Kansas – https://twitter.com/KansasWheat/

Idaho – https://twitter.com/IdahoWheat

Montana – https://wbc.agr.mt.gov/Home/News

Nebraska – https://nebraskawheat.com/producers/crop-reports/

North Dakota – https://www.ndwheat.com/buyers/cropprogressreport

Oklahoma – https://twitter.com/OSU_smallgrains

South Dakota – https://sdwheat.org/

Texas – https://texaswheat.org/news-events/

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By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

The condition of the U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat crop is not improving. Farmers – and the markets – are concerned about the threats to yield potential from wide-spread April freezes and increasing dryness across a significant portion of the Central and Southern Great Plains.

USDA’s most recent crop condition ratings reflect the weather effects on the 2020-21 winter wheat crop, reducing the total crop rated good to excellent from 62 percent to 57 percent. According to Romulo Lollato, Kansas State University Wheat and Forages Specialist, drought weakens winter wheat’s ability to recover from freeze damage and both conditions challenge winter wheat yield potential. So the change in ratings is focused on the HRW crop, based on the worsening dryness in north central and southwestern Kansas, eastern Colorado and south central Nebraska. And this week, the extent of freeze damage is being monitored carefully in the following states.

Kansas.  Between April 20 and April 27, USDA reduced its Kansas winter wheat rating from 46 good to excellent to 40 percent as localized freezes and expanding dryness threaten crop progress.

“About 50 to 60 percent of the state’s wheat was impacted to varying degrees by freeze damage,” said Lollato. In north-central Kansas, several counties showed varying but considerable freeze damage. According to researchers at Kansas State University, the crop in that region needs moisture soon to help with freeze damage recovery. In parts of central Kansas, late-sown fields, following a soybean crop, showed severe leaf and tiller damage from recent freeze events. In parts of northwestern Kansas, dry soil conditions predisposed plants to freeze damage and in some cases severely damaged fields turned yellow and brown as plant tissue deteriorated. Southwest Kansas is still extremely dry and could impact the crop’s ability to recover from freeze damage. Looking ahead, hot, dry temperatures across the state could further challenge the crop’s ability to recover from freeze damage.

Late-sown fields in north central Kansas showed severe leaf and tiller damage from recent freeze events. Photos courtesy of Romulo Lollato.

Colorado. “Our story is dryness – we need rain,” said Brad Erker, Executive Director of the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee.

Several weeks ago, USDA rated 54 percent of Colorado’s winter wheat in good to excellent condition. As of April 27, only 37 percent of the state’s crop is in top condition. Moderate to severe drought plagues the eastern third of the state, where the winter wheat is grown. There is little evidence yet that freeze damage has impacted the crop, but reports are still developing. Looking ahead, high temperatures and no moisture in eastern Colorado could continue to pressure the state’s yield potential.

The April 23 UNL Drought Monitor showed a significant expansion of abnormal dryness and severe drought across the Central and Southern Plains, with dry conditions expanding in North Dakota and the Pacific Northwest.

Nebraska. HRW conditions in Nebraska are better than in Kansas and Colorado, with 69 percent of the crop rated good to excellent. However, freezing temperatures impacted wheat across the state. According to Sarah Morton, Agriculture Promotion Coordinator for the Nebraska Wheat Board, temperatures close to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius) in Nebraska’s southern Panhandle “knocked the wheat back and turned it brown,” slowing growth. Freezing temperatures in southwest Nebraska also burned back the wheat. Adequate soil moisture levels and warmer temperatures in the western part of the state are expected to help the crop recover from recent freezes. On April 23, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Drought Monitor introduced abnormal dryness into the south-central portion of the state.

Oklahoma. Reports from Oklahoma show significant freeze damage in some of the state’s southwest and south-central counties. Some counties in southwestern Oklahoma reported freeze damage across 40 to 70 percent of the crop. In several extreme cases, some areas in south-central Oklahoma showed freeze damage in virtually every field. The April 23 Drought Monitor expanded areas under abnormal dryness and severe drought in the Oklahoma Panhandle. As of April 27, 62 percent of the state’s HRW is in good to excellent condition, down from 65 percent the week before, with expectations that the condition will continue to deteriorate.

“It’s an extremely challenging time for southwestern Oklahoma producers,” said Mike Schulte, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

Header photo courtesy of Romulo Lollato.

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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: Oklahoma Wheat Commission
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard White (HW)
USW Leadership: Don Sherrill, 1988/89 Chairman; Henry Jo Von Tungeln, 2001/02 Chairman; Keith Kisling, 2004/05 Chairman; Don Schieber, 2010/11; Michael Peters 2020/21 Secretary-Treasurer-elect (slated for 2022/23 Chairman).

Established in 1965, the Oklahoma Wheat Commission promotes greater utilization of wheat in domestic and international markets through research, market development and public education. Twenty percent of all producer funds collected by the Commission are allocated to the Oklahoma Wheat Research Foundation. The Commission supports numerous wheat research projects conducted by the Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, all aimed at ensuring the future of Oklahoma wheat.

2020-21 USW Officers (L to R): Michael Peters, Oklahoma; Rhonda Larson, Minnesota; Darren Padget, Oregon; Doug Goyings, Ohio; Vince Peterson, USW.

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

Export markets are critical to the success of U.S. agricultural products because it allows us to capture value for the U.S. farmer in markets that might not be able to grow crops such as wheat. We continue to face greater competition from Russia, Canada, the European Union, Australia and other countries that also grow wheat, so it is extremely important for us to continue offering technical assistance to millers and bakers overseas. Demonstrating the benefits of U.S. wheat and why it is the most reliable choice for their products is important. If we do not tell the story about U.S. wheat value, nobody will. We must also continue working on quality analysis and research that offers the best value to our foreign buyers.

The Oklahoma Wheat Commission host Grupo Trimex in 2016 at Sidwell Farms in Northwest Oklahoma. From left to right are: Eric Vandebrouck, Grupo Timex; Luis Cortes Velasco, Grupo Trimex; Brady Sidwell, Sidwell Farms; Mike Schulte, Director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission; Mark Hodges, Director of Oklahoma Genetics Inc. & Plains Grains Inc.; Kenneth Failes, OWC Board Member District I; Chad Weigand, USW Mexico City and on the tractor Hector Martinez Gonzalez, Grupo Trimex.

How have Oklahoma wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

Mexico is the largest market for Oklahoma wheat and the relationships created between Oklahoma wheat farmers and Mexican flour millers over the past 30 years are greatly valued. This last year we have worked with Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, Ore., to focus on functionality studies for products like tortillas for the Mexican market. While traditionally our focus has been on Latin American, African and Middle Eastern export markets, we have also recently shifted some focus to Far Eastern markets, specifically China and Taiwan. Based on feedback from a visiting Taiwanese trade delegation in 2019, we are working on HRW and HW functionality studies for steam breads and Asian noodles. In the past, HRW wheat was not used for these types of products but we have seen Taiwanese customers react to technical assistance offered by U.S. Wheat Associates, WMC and on-going research at OSU. This past year Taiwan has sourced HRW to make up 30 percent of their production blends, or about 16 million bushels of U.S. HRW purchased over the last three months. In March, China also purchased 12.5 million bushels of HRW for the same blending purposes. These purchases are particularly important because it showcases the value of HRW for blending due to advancements in quality. Renewed Chinese purchases are a positive signal that the new Phase One U.S.-China trade agreement signed in January 2020 is working.

The Oklahoma Wheat Commission hosted a Chilean delegation in 2017 at their new offices: From left to right are Eduardo Bustamante, Grupo 9; Sergio Morales, Molino San Cristobol; Casey Chumrau; USW Santiago; Tom Stephens, OWC Board Member, District 2; Jose Eugenio Grohnert, Molino La Estampa; Juan Enrique Ojeda, Molinos Cunaco; Michael Peters OWC Board Member, District 3; Mike Schulte, Executive Director of the OWC; and David Gammill, OWC Board Member, District IV.

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

Our current focus is on end-use quality characteristics for the functionalities that our overseas customers need for many different end products. Traditionally Oklahoma is known for growing HRW wheat for bread consumption, and while that continues to be a significant part of our role in domestic and international markets, our focus is changing to meet changing consumer demands. We are trying to create products that can be prepared in a matter of minutes rather than products that take 30 minutes to an hour. We are seeing consumer preferences change across the globe. People want meals to taste good, but they also want them to be easy and quick to make. We certainly are seeing greater emphasis on tortilla demands and we expect to see more emphasis on steam breads that can be utilized for several different cooking purposes.

Learn more about Oklahoma Wheat Commission on its website here and on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Taiwan Flour Millers Association members are hosted by Don and Cecelia Schieber on their family farm in Kildare. Representatives and flour companies involved on this delegation tour with Taiwan Flour Millers Association included Mr. Bo-Yuan Chen, Country Director Taipei Office, U.S. Wheat Associates; Mr. YuMin Cho, Executive Assistant, Hsin Chu Flour Mill Co., Ltd.; Mr. Peter CY Chen, Director General of the Taipei Economic Cultural Office in Houston; Ms. Stacey H.C. Lin, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office; Mr. Tony Yi-Cheukn Shu, Executive Director, Taiwan Flour Mills Association, President Formosa Oilseed Processing Co., Ltd.; Mr. Charles C.K. Hung, General Manager of Chia Fha Enterprise Co., Ltd.; Ms. Chih-Ping Chen, International Trade Assistant, Ta Fong Flour Mill Co., Ltd.; The Honorable Roland Pederson, Oklahoma State Senator, District 19; Mr. Tsung-Yuan Lin, Assistant to General Manager, Hon Hsing Flour Mill Co., Ltd.; Mike Schulte, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, and Benjamin Hsu, Taipei Economic Cultural Office in Houston.

In 2014, Don Schieber, Oklahoma wheat farmer and past USW Chairman welcomed Anna-Mart Rust, a customer from South Africa to his farm during a USW trade delegation tour. In 2018, Don and Anna-Mart reconnected in South Africa while Don was traveling with USW on a board team trip.

 

Oklahoma Wheat Commission Executive Director Mike Schulte participated in the USW food aid trip to Tanzania in 2017.

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By Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services

In the increasingly competitive global wheat market, it is important to review the advantages that U.S. wheat delivers to millers and bakers. In a series of six articles, we will review the advantages that each unique class of U.S. wheat brings to the market.


Let us start with the value that the largest wheat class, hard red winter (HRW) wheat, brings to the global market. With annual average production over the last five years of 22.64 million metric tons (MMT), or more than 831 million bushels, U.S. HRW accounts for more than 41 percent of the total wheat produced in the United States.

Milling Advantages

Mills that only use one class of wheat in their grist are few and far between in the world. Blending classes or wheat from different origins is a standard and crucial for the mill and their customers. Blending adds consistent quality in mill operation and, in the resulting flour products, to the wheat foods processor. It helps the mill produce the most valuable flour at a lower cost and, of course, blending is needed to produce the range of flour products for specific end uses.

For these reasons, the quantity and quality of U.S. HRW produced annually creates an optimal foundation for any wheat procurement strategy. From the miller’s perspective, U.S. HRW brings consistency to the grist. For a mill to perform optimally, it needs to be well-balanced. Constantly changing mill grist creates a milling environment that is difficult to keep balanced. A balanced mill optimizes flour extraction and helps maximize milling efficiency. Maintaining U.S. HRW as the foundation of the mill grist allows the miller to blend local wheat, other U.S. wheat classes or wheat from other origins as cost advantages or product differentiation opportunities develop in the market.

Baking Advantages

U.S. HRW is available in a wide range of protein levels, which is excellent for making a variety of wheat foods alone or blended with flour from other classes to optimize performance and flour cost. It is also good for producing an all-purpose flour that can be used in a wide range of products. Medium protein flour from HRW can be used for a several types of yeast and flat breads and noodles. Low protein HRW flour can be used in a blend with soft white (SW) or soft red winter (SRW) to make some types of biscuits (cookies). Higher protein HRW can be used for pizza crust, artisan breads, or non-durum pasta as a 100 percent grist or blended with high protein hard red spring (HRS) wheat to reduce wheat cost and optimize the quality characteristics of the finished products.

In the end, the greatest benefit to the baker is the same as the miller: consistency when used as the sole wheat type or used in a blend to improve the baking characteristics, such as dough stability or water absorption, of local wheat or wheat from another origin. U.S. HRW is always available to the market and provides the most reliable foundation for the formulation of nearly any wheat-based product.

U.S. Wheat Advantages

As we highlight each specific 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 consistency of 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 market in the unique quality characteristics to make a variety of baked goods and noodles. Each region, country and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six distinct classes of wheat, the U.S. has the right wheat class to help deliver the optimal quality and value for every variety of product 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.


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

Hard Red Spring
Hard White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter
Durum

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As U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson often says, at any given hour of the day there is someone, somewhere, talking about the quality, reliability and value of U.S. wheat. Wheat Letter wants to share some of the ways USW was working the past few months to promote all six classes of U.S. wheat in an ever more complex world wheat market.

China

The value of flour made from U.S. wheat shines in quality intensive applications that demand stability and performance. Frozen dough is just such an application. Wheat flour that may pass muster in traditional baked foods can fail when the rigors of freezing, storage, thawing and baking are involved. Moreover, in many Asian markets such as Taiwan and China, the penetration of frozen dough products is still in its early stages, so there is a great interest in discovering solutions to common problems in the production process.

To better understand the current frozen dough market in China and to meet the industry’s demands for frozen dough knowledge, USW/Beijing and USW/Taipei in 2019 invited veteran food production expert Dr. Kirk O’ Donnell of Bakers Growth, LLC, to provide technical services to selected frozen dough manufactures in Mainland China and Taiwan, and to conduct a seminar on freezing technology at the China Grain Products Research and Development Institute (CGPRDI) in Taipei. In addition to providing valuable technical support, USW was able to gain a greater understanding of this growing industry segment.

Dr. Kirk O’Donnell conducts a USW-sponsored frozen dough technology seminar at the CGPRDI.

Mexico

USW/Mexico colleagues and USW farmer directors were invited to the dedication of a newly constructed shuttle train facility located in Villagran, Guanajuato, Mexico. USW was proud to be among more than 300 industry leaders including Mexican wheat buyers, executives from Mexico’s Ferromex railroad, U.S. rail executives and a large contingent from the Mexican grain trade. An average of about 50 percent of roughly 3.0 million metric tons (MMT) of recent annual U.S. wheat exports to Mexico move there by rail. Even before its dedication in September, the new facility had already received nine shuttle trains of U.S. wheat including seven trains of hard red winter (HRW) and two trains of soft red winter (SRW) carrying a total of about 100,000 metric tons.

Ribbon-cutting at the dedication of the new grain shuttle train unloading facility in Mexico.

European Union

USW/Rotterdam Regional Marketing Manager Rutger Koekoek accompanied five European participants to the Northern Crop Institute (NCI) Grain Procurement Management for Importers short course. The focus was on risk management and procurement strategies for U.S. wheat importers. The participants were able to meet representatives of leading grain trading companies and, for the first time ever, were able to board a vessel being loaded with northern durum wheat at the CHS export elevator in the Port of Duluth-Superior (see photo above). Koekoek also organized meetings with NDSU’s Durum Wheat Breeder to discuss the new durum wheat varieties that have recently been released.

Algeria

USW/Casablanca Milling and Baking Technologist Tarik Gahi traveled to Blida, Algeria, to meet with millers and biscuit and cake manufacturers who processed U.S. SRW wheat under a USW Quality Samples Program (QSP) funded by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The sample was milled in July and the flour was distributed to the processors. Gahi reported back that all the companies were impressed by the SRW flour quality, above all with the low water absorption and the fact that the flour performed very well without adding any chemical enzyme additives. He said the customers noted that more gluten strength would be needed for Maria-type biscuits, which, Gahi explained, can easily be managed by blending with higher protein flour such as from U.S. HRW.

U.S. SRW wheat flour milled from a sample supplied by USW, are a key ingredient in biscuits (above), otherwise known as cookies in the United States.

Brazil

USW President Vince Peterson, USW Chairman Doug Goyings, USW/Santiago Regional Director Miguel Galdos, USW/Santiago Assistant Regional Director Osvaldo Seco and USW/Santiago Technical Specialist Andres Saturno participated in the 26th ABITRIGO Congress, sponsored by the Brazilian Wheat Industry Association, near Sao Paulo, Brazil. Although USW always represents U.S. wheat farmers at this event, this delegation was particularly important given the news that Brazil’s government had agreed to fully open its tariff rate quota (TRQ) for 750,000 MT of wheat imported from outside the Mercosur trade agreement. In a few past years when Brazil opened the TRQ because of limited Mercosur supplies, U.S. wheat represented most of the import volume. At the meeting, the industry was informed that the TRQ would be opened late in 2019, rather than the expected timing of later in 2020.

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Unexpectedly high yields from the U.S. Plains to the Pacific Northwest (PNW) resulted in lower wheat and flour protein in the 2019 hard red winter (HRW) wheat crop, but the crop exhibits good milling and end-product characteristics. Even though mixing times and tolerances are shorter than the five-year averages, the loaf volumes achieved indicate there is adequate protein quality to make quality bread. This crop meets or exceeds typical HRW contract specifications and should provide high value to the customer. The 2019 HRW crop can be characterized as clean and sound with very good milling properties, but with below average protein content still capable of producing good end products.

That is a summary of the major regional results for HRW from the upcoming U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) 2019 Crop Quality Report. California HRW data is reported separately. Plains Grains, Inc., in cooperation with the USDA/ARS Hard Winter Wheat Quality Lab, Manhattan, Kan., analyzed 494 HRW samples collected from grain elevators in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Funding for the annual survey come from USW member state wheat commissions and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

Weather and Harvest: The 2019 HRW planted area represents near historic 100-year lows, continuing the trend of recent years. Despite stagnant planted area, HRW production is estimated at 22.9 MMT (840 mil bu), a 27% increase over 2018. USDA estimates the HRW supply (excluding imports) is the third highest in the last 20 years.

Various climatic conditions challenged this crop. However, moisture remained adequate, or even excessive, in the central and southern production areas and resulted in better than expected yields, lower than average protein, but otherwise good milling and processing characteristics. The U.S. Southern, Central and Northern Plains experienced an unusually wet spring, slowing crop maturity and uniformly delaying the beginning of harvest two weeks or more. At the same time, the PNW and Montana experienced abnormal swings in temperature and severe storms. Despite intense and prolonged moisture during later stages of crop development, disease and insect pressure in most production areas was unusually low.  Once harvest began, it progressed normally in most production areas.

Wheat and Grade Data: The 2019 crop has generally very good kernel characteristics. Overall 93% of Composite, 91% of Gulf-Tributary and 97% of PNW-Tributary samples graded U.S. No. 2 or better. Average test weight of 60.6 lb/bu (79.6 kg/hl) is below 2018 but above the 5-year average. Average dockage (0.5%), total defects (1.3%), foreign material (0.2%) and shrunken and broken (0.8%) are all equal to better than 2018 and the 5-year averages. Average thousand kernel weight of 32.7 g significantly exceeds last year and the 5-year average (both 30.7 g). Kernel characteristics, including test weight, thousand kernel weight and kernel diameter are very good and consistent with favorable growing conditions. However, growing conditions favoring kernel size and test weight are not conducive to accumulating protein, which is below last year and the five-year averages. The average wheat falling number is 378 sec, indicative of sound wheat.

Flour and Baking Data: The Buhler laboratory flour yield average is 74.0%, comparable to the 2018 average of 75.1% and the 5-year average of 75.5%. The 2019 flour ash of 0.48% (14% mb) is comparable to last year’s 0.44% but significantly lower than the 5-year average of 0.55% due to milling adjustments made in 2018. The alveograph W value of 223 10-4 J is significantly lower than last year but comparable to the 5-year average of 234 10-4 J. Farinograph peak and stability times, 3.3 min and 7.3 min, respectively, are significantly lower than last year’s 5.2 min and 12.2 min. Average bake absorption is 62.7%, below the 63.7% value for 2018 but comparable to the 5-year average. Overall loaf volume averaged 863 cc, well below last year’s 901 cc, but comparable to the 5-year average of 851 cc.

Complete 2019 crop quality data for all six U.S. wheat classes will soon be available online and at annual USW Crop Quality Seminars.

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“Seeding is an exciting time – and it can be stressful, too, because you are anxious to get the seed in the ground,” said Okarche, Okla., wheat farmer Michael Peters. “There are a lot of decisions to be made and sometimes the weather makes you wonder if you made the right choices. But once you see the wheat starting to grow you think, well, there is hope that it will be a good crop.”

That is how Peters recently described his experience seeding hard red winter (HRW) wheat with a team from 502 Marketing, Manhattan, Kan., that is working with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) to produce a video program focused on the people who contribute to the wholesome quality of U.S. wheat for dozens of different food products around the world. With previous visits to Kansas, Ohio, Washington state, and North Dakota, the show will be completed in 2020 and include additional farm families and information about the U.S. wheat supply system.

Preparing the seeding equipment includes carefully connecting hydraulic lines, a process being videotaped here as Fred Peters (left), Tyler Peters (center) and Michael Peters prepare to plant another hard red winter wheat crop in September 2019.

Peters Farms is a family-owned operation that was started when Michael Peters’ great-great grandfather homesteaded a piece of land in central Oklahoma in the 1880s. Today, Michael farms with his farther Fred Peters and his son Tyler. They grow HRW wheat and graze cattle on some of that crop over the late fall and winter. Linda Peters, Michael’s wife, is a teacher and church musician who remains an active participant in the farm operations.

Early seeded HRW wheat on Peters Farms provides the backdrop for an interview with Michael Peters about the steps his family farm takes to grow a high-quality crop.

Michael is a commissioner with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission (OWC) and represents OWC on the USW Board of Directors where he serves as Chair of the USW Wheat Quality Committee and is a member of the USW and National Association of Wheat Growers Joint International Trade Committee.

USW wants to thank OWC Executive Director Mike Schulte (shown on the left in the photo with Fred and Michael Peters above) and OWC Marketing and Communications Manager Chris Kirby for their help arranging this important part of the USW video production. All of us at USW are proud to represent Peters Farms and other farm families in overseas markets – and we thank the Peters family for giving their time and effort to share their story at one of their busiest, but most hopeful, times of the year.

Murals representing the historical changes in Oklahoma’s wheat industry greet visitors to the Oklahoma Wheat Commission’s office in Oklahoma City. The murals were donated by the family of Dr. Brett Carver, head wheat breeder at Oklahoma State University.