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.


Durum is the pasta wheat and the fifth largest class of wheat grown in the United States with an annual average production over the last five years of 2.06 million metric tons (MMT), or about 75.67 million bushels. In part because of regional economies of scale, U.S. imports of durum at a 5-year average are at 1.18 million metric tons (MMT) while export volume at a 5-year average is a little less than 650 thousand metric tons (TMT.)

Northern durum is grown in North Dakota, Minnesota and Montana, and is primarily exported through the Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway or the Gulf. Desert Durum® is a registered certification mark owned by the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council and the California Wheat Commission, which authorize the use of the mark only to designated durum grain produced under irrigation in the desert valleys and lowlands of Arizona and California. Desert Durum® is exported from the Gulf or the West Coast.

Milling Advantages

U.S. durum is competitive with Canadian durum in the global market. U.S. durum is represented by three subclasses controlling for hard, vitreous kernel (HVK) content. Subclass options include: Hard Amber Durum (HAD) with more than 75 percent vitreous kernels; Amber Durum with 60 to 74 percent vitreous kernels; and Durum with less than 60 percent vitreous kernels. Higher HVK values yield a larger quantity of semolina. U.S. durum has a large kernel size as well, creating the opportunity for millers to again benefit from higher extraction rates.

Desert Durum® is harvested and shipped at a very low moisture content. This is an advantage to millers that contributes to efficient transportation costs, high extraction rates, and allows them to add significantly more water during the tempering and conditioning phase of processing.

Product Advantages

The finest quality pasta is the primary product made from U.S. durum –  long goods, short goods, pasta of all shapes and sizes. Couscous is another product made from durum, as well as some varieties of traditional Mediterranean semolina bread. Whatever the product made from durum, one quality factor is the most critical to the consumer – color. Pasta, in its purest form, is water and durum semolina; couscous is large semolina boiled and eaten as an alternative to rice. In both products, consumers prefer a bright yellow, translucent appearance that U.S. durum delivers because of its higher level of HVK. The higher HVK also allows the miller to provide a more uniform, consistent semolina to the pasta process, thus improving production efficiencies and color.

Sourcing Opportunities

Durum planted area, like some other classes of wheat, is declining in the United States. Working with producers and suppliers proactively is the best way to assure ample supply to the market. Desert Durum® can be produced and delivered “identity preserved” to domestic and export markets, which allows customers to purchase grain of varieties possessing quality traits specific to their needs. Annual production requirements can be pre-contracted with grain merchandisers ahead of the fall-winter planting season for harvest in late May-early July. Varietal identity is maintained by experienced growers planting certified seed and merchandisers who store and ship according to customers’ preferred delivery schedules.

Northern durum is competitively sourced by U.S. pasta producers in the Midwest and northern states. Export customers most be proactive when working with suppliers to obtain the best quality available in the market such as HAD.

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 through unique quality characteristics that make a variety of baked goods and noodles. Further, blending flours from one or more types of wheat is an important component for customers to understand as part of optimizing flour performance at minimal cost.

Each region, country and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six unique classes of wheat, the United States has the right wheat class to 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 our “Ask The Expert” section.


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

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

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.


Soft red winter (SRW) wheat is the third largest class of wheat grown in the United States with an annual average production over the last five years of 8.28 million metric tons (MMT), or just over 300 million bushels. Although SRW is the third largest class measured by production, it is the fourth largest as measured by export sales. U.S. SRW wheat is predominantly grown east of the Mississippi River and the South as far west as northeast Texas and southeast Kansas.

Importers of SRW are served from ports on the Lakes, East Coast, Gulf and Western Gulf. Mexico imports a substantial portion of its SRW purchases via direct rail shipment. Importers and the domestic milling and baking industries use SRW for specialty products such as cookies (biscuits), crackers, snack foods, and cake flour. SRW is a versatile wheat for blending with hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat to lower grist cost and improve bread crumb texture, or to improve the quality and appearance of a wide variety of products.

Milling Advantages

SRW can be challenging to mill. Some advantages to milling SRW are reduced energy requirements and fewer rollermills for mill flows designed specifically for soft wheat. The truth is, few mills are designed for only SRW as it is generally a specialty wheat used for specialty products. The real advantage for milling companies is in the cost reduction of the mill grist and increased diversity of products when SRW is included in a long term, strategic wheat procurement plan. SRW performs best on the mill at lower moisture content (14.5%) compared to hard wheat (16%) and requires increased sifter area per metric ton.

Baking Advantages

As previously mentioned, the target market for SRW is confectionary products, but SRW performs well as a blending flour in a wider variety of products such as crackers and cookies. The lower moisture content of the flour creates an advantage for the baker by increasing the amount of water added while optimizing water absorption and product quality to the consumer. The finer particle size will generally increase the rate of water absorption, decreasing mix time and improving production efficiencies. As is the message with most of the U.S. wheat classes, blending SRW flour with other flour types creates opportunities to create the optimal flour type for any number of end-use products. Some markets have found success blending SRW wheat flour with HRS and HRW wheat flour to improve crumb texture and even the loaf volume of pan bread by improving the dough development and mixing properties.

Sourcing Opportunities

Soft red winter wheat is lower in protein as compared to hard wheat classes and is generally lower cost. It is most often available out of the Mississippi River for export, but at times can be shipped via rail to the center Gulf or Mexico. Another important factor to consider when purchasing SRW is to include a maximum value for deoxynivalenol (DON), particularly in years when SRW matured during wet, humid conditions.

Optimal purchases of SRW are in combination with HRW or HRS, to minimize storage constraints at the destination mill. There is a high demand for SRW in the domestic U.S. market. In years where acreage and production are lower than average, the price can be inverted in comparison to higher protein classes.

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 through unique quality characteristics that make a variety of baked goods and noodles. Further, blending flours from one or more types of wheat is an important component for customers to understand as part of optimizing flour performance at minimal cost.

Each region, country and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six unique classes of wheat, the United States has the right wheat class to 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 our “Ask The Expert” section.


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

Hard Red Winter
Hard Red Spring
Hard White
Soft White
Durum

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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.


Soft white (SW) wheat is the fourth largest class of wheat grown in the United States with an annual average production over the last five years of 6.32 million metric tons (MMT), or about 232 million bushels.  Although SW is the fourth largest class measured by production, it is the third largest if measured by exports with nearly 80% of its annual production exported. As with Hard White wheat, it is important to mention, SW wheat includes winter and spring varieties increasing the protein range and functionality within the class. U.S. SW wheat has a strong export demand in Asian markets. From specialty products such as sponge cakes, Asian noodles, biscuits and crackers, to blending with hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat for improving bread color, soft white wheat flour has the versatility to improve the quality and appearance of a wide variety of products.

Milling Advantages

U.S. SW wheat performs very well on the mill. Arriving at the mill with high 1,000 kernel weight, an average moisture of less than 10%, an average test weight of more than 80 hectoliter mass and a low quantity of screenings, SW wheat provides millers every opportunity for high flour extraction. The high extraction potential produces a whiter flour due to its lighter bran color as well. The lower wheat moisture allows the miller to temper the wheat to a lower average target moisture optimizing flour extraction, particle size and color.

Baking Advantages

The target market for SW is confectionary products, specifically sponge cakes, but SW performs well as a blending flour in a wider variety of products such as Asian noodles and steam bread. The lower moisture content of the flour produced creates an advantage to the baker by increasing the amount of water added while optimizing water absorption and product quality to the consumer. The finer particle size will generally increase the rate of water absorption, decreasing mix time and improving production efficiencies. With the fine particle size and starch characteristics, SW flour creates a unique and tender texture for many end use products. Some markets have found success blending SW wheat flour with HRS wheat and HRW wheat flour to improve crumb color, texture and even the loaf volume of pan bread.

As with hard white wheat flour, SW flour also delivers a low polyphenol oxidase (PPO) content. PPO is an enzyme that can cause  dough discoloration. Lower PPO content brightens the appearance of any end-product.

Sourcing Opportunities

Soft White wheat is defined by three distinct subclasses; soft white, white club and western white. The three distinct subclasses allow the customer to purchase white club separately from soft white wheat, permitting the creation of different blends for specific uses. Club  is unique in that its  ultra-soft weak gluten  is not tied to protein content and delivering unique starch and protein characteristics that customers prefer for sponge cakes and other specialty confectionary products.

Standard SW may be purchased with a higher protein content (10.5%) to use in blends with HRS and HRW wheat classes to create products with differing color and texture. An important reminder when purchasing SW wheat: Customers generally specify a maximum protein content (max 9.0, 9.5 or 10.5% protein) for sponge cake and confectionary uses versus a minimum protein content typical in hard wheat contracts. This is an important detail as the value of SW is the lower protein.  Low protein SW, less than 9.0%, is generally priced more than higher protein greater than 10.5% depending upon the year

Alternatively, the subclass western white wheat is a blend of not less than 10% club and 90% soft white wheat which allows the customer to define quality targets and adjust the proportion of SW and Club wheat in the blend according to price and quality expectations.

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. It is also important to understand the value of blending flour from one or more types of wheat to optimize the flour performance at the minimal cost. Each region, country and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six unique classes of wheat, the United States has the right wheat class to 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 our “Ask The Expert” section.


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

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

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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.


Hard white (HW) wheat is the smallest class of wheat grown in the United States with an annual average production over the last five years of less than 1 million metric tons (MMT), about 30 million bushels.  U.S. HW is the newest class of wheat and has developed a strong niche in the U.S. domestic market for whole wheat flour products. In addition, HW varieties are bred to yield flour for both bread and Asian noodles.

The strong demand for a specific use and the relatively small production has created a market where the majority of HW is grown under contract with domestic milling companies to assure quality standards and to provide a premium price incentive to farmers. It is also important to mention, HW wheat includes winter and spring varieties, increasing the protein range and functionality within the class.

Milling Advantages

U.S. HW wheat performs in the mill much like hard red winter (HRW) wheat. The most obvious HW benefit is higher extraction levels of whiter flour due to its lighter bran color. Higher extraction rates generally improve the water absorption of the flour benefiting the baker as well. HW is a true hard wheat creating an advantageous granulation in the primary breaks for the production of course semolina increasing the production of low ash flour.

Baking and Processing Advantages

The greatest advantage of hard white wheat in the market is the quality of baked products made from hard white wheat flour. As mentioned, one of the primary uses of hard white flour in the U.S. baking industry is for whole wheat products. By using ultra fine white whole wheat flour, whole wheat bread can be produced with the color and texture of traditional bread. This has created a large demand for white whole wheat flour in school lunch programs and other products promoting the health benefits of whole wheat flour and the acceptable taste to children.

Another advantage of HW wheat flour is a low polyphenol oxidase (PPO) content. PPO is an enzyme that can cause browning of dough. Lower PPO content improves the color of wet noodles and Asian steamed bread products. The starch-pasting characteristics of some HW varieties as measured by amylograph values are also an important trait for noodle production. High peak viscosity is associated with desirable texture characteristics in noodles.

Sourcing Challenges

With all the advantages of HW to the milling and baking industry, the market has challenges in determining the value of the HW. A majority of the HW is grown under production contracts by U.S. milling companies. It is also grown predominantly in the Great Plains adding to the challenge of marketing HW to Asian customers sourcing wheat off the West Coast. The small size of the HW planted acres creates challenges for a volume-based grain handling system.  The need to segregate HW from HRW or HRS adds cost to the elevators due to the time required to clean equipment and bins. It can also be difficult to accumulate enough quantity to fill a ship hold or complete unit train. These challenges require creativity and flexibility by both the buyer and seller working together to pull HW wheat through the market encouraging the wheat producer to increase HW wheat planted acres.

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. It is also important to understand the value of blending flour from one or more types of wheat to optimize the flour performance at the minimal cost. Each region, country and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six unique classes of wheat, the United States has the right wheat class to 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 Winter
Hard Red Spring
Soft White
Soft Red Winter
Durum

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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.


In this post, we discuss the value U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat brings to the global market. With an annual average production over the last five years of 14.1 million metric tons (MMT), or about 518 million bushels, HRS is the second largest wheat class and accounts for about 26 percent of the total wheat produced in the United States.

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, adjustments to the screen sizes of separating equipment in the cleaning house will reduce the risk of losing good quality, but smaller  kernels. Longer conditioning time is needed to assure the tempering water has fully penetrated the harder HRS wheat kernels. Optimal conditioning time is dependent on several factors, but in most cases, HRS will require a minimum 20 hours for optimal conditioning time. The miller’s reward for these adjustments will be seen in a 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 gives the miller the opportunity 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. HRS 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 percent 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 are demanding 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 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. It is also important to understand the value of blending flour from one or more types of wheat to optimize the flour performance at the minimal cost. Each region, country and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six unique classes of wheat, the United States has the right wheat class to 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 Winter
Hard White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter
Durum

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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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By Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services

While global wheat importers have many wheat types and origins to consider, U.S. wheat farmers offer the most diversity in the six distinct classes of wheat they produce. The United States is the only exporting country with grain standards that allow buyers to specify for both wheat class and protein content in their contracts.

However, to achieve the best value for the wheat purchased, the buyer must be well informed to understand the subtle yet critical differences in wheat contract specifications when comparing the quality and value of U.S. wheat to wheat from other origins.

Let us use protein content, perhaps the most basic quality characteristic in wheat, as an example.

How wheat quality characteristics are reported varies from country to country depending on “standards” set by regulations in each country. For protein content, the reporting standard is to compare protein based on moisture content, or the calculated moisture content equivalent.

However, within the major exporting countries there are three different reporting standards for protein content. U.S. wheat grade standards require the percent protein to be reported at a 12% moisture basis. Canadian standards report protein content at 13.5% moisture basis. All other exporting countries, such as Russia, report protein content at 0.0% moisture basis, also referred to as dry basis or d.b.

What that means for the buyer is the only way to get an accurate comparison of protein content in wheat supplies from different exporting countries is to compare them on a common moisture basis. Fortunately, that can be done with a relatively simple calculation – or by contacting your local U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) representative. Let us look first at how protein content is reported and calculated.

Example 1

A sample of wheat is evaluated, and the protein content is measured at 11.8% with the moisture content measured at 11.0%. If the reporting standard is 12% moisture basis (m.b.), the reported protein content must be calculated using the formula commonly referred to as the Dry Matter (DM) ratio, expressed here:

The full equation looks like this:

Using the variables in our example, we calculated that the wheat has 11.67% protein on a 12% m.b.

An easy way to determine if the math is done properly is comparing the direction of the final value. If the actual moisture content is lower than the reported moisture basis, the reported protein content will be lower than the actual measured protein content.

Next, let us use the same numbers to calculate the protein at a dry basis or 0% moisture.

Example 2

In this calculation, the actual moisture content (11.0%) is higher than the reported moisture basis (0.0%), so the reported protein content will be higher than the actual measured protein content.

The importance of this example is to understand that the actual protein content of the wheat does not change based on moisture, it is simply math and how the protein content is reported.

Reporting protein content and other wheat and flour attributes such as water absorption at a standard moisture basis is critical to compare expected flour performance of wheat from different origins.

Here is one last example to illustrate this difference. How does Russian grade #3 wheat at 12.5% protein reported at a dry basis, compare to U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat reported at 12% moisture basis?

To answer this question, we do the math.

Example 3

In this calculation, the reported moisture basis of Russian origin wheat is 0.0%, lower than the reported moisture basis of U.S. wheat at 12.0%. As a result, the standard reported protein content of Russian wheat is higher than the standard reported protein content of U.S. wheat, even though the actual protein content is the same for both at 11%.

This difference has been challenging buyers of wheat for years. That is just one reason why USW, the wheat farmers we represent, and the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service continue to make trade servicing and technical support a priority in its activities with overseas wheat buyers, millers and wheat food processors. Contact your regional USW office representative for more information or visit our website and leave a question in our “Ask The Expert” section.

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By Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services

[Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles designed to help flour millers transition efficiently and effectively from old to new crop wheat.]

Delivering a homogeneous mix of wheat to the mill is critical to optimize mill performance and assure consistently high-quality flour products for end-user customers. Blending wheat prior to conditioning and milling is a necessary part of this process and is even more critical as the farmers who grow your grist are harvesting their new wheat crop.

To maximize product quality and cost, both the miller and the baker are rewarded by processing a consistent wheat blend. Consistency is the most critical flour quality characteristic for large bakeries.  Delivering a consistent product during harvest and new crop transition can be a challenge. However, a well-defined and implemented plan can assure a successful transition for both the miller and the baker.

Mark Fowler (L), USW Vice President of Global Technical Services, and Shawn Thiele (R), Associate Director; Flour Milling and Grain Processing Curriculum Manager at IGP Institute, recently conducted technical support in several Nigerian flour mills.

Flour extraction, or yield, is the main measure of efficiency of the milling process.  Differences in the physical attributes of wheat such as moisture, kernel size and density do change the mill balance and may lower extraction rates, flour output and ultimately lower profitability for the miller. Careful blending of new and old crop wheat is the best defense against these risks.

How much and how soon to incorporate new crop wheat into the mill grist is an important consideration during the harvest transition. In most cases, existing inventory constraints make this decision for the miller. In my experience, an optimal blending plan is to incorporate new crop into the mill grist at a rate of 10 percent in the beginning and gradually increase the blend, ideally over four to six weeks. The transition can be longer depending on the availability of new crop wheat and storage capacity in the mill. The most important thing is to lay out a blending plan as you tender for your first delivery of new crop wheat.

Blending old and new crop wheat always provides other benefits to the flour miller. Blending wheat based on quality characteristics such as protein content or water absorption allows the miller to provide the baker flour that meets their desired quality characteristics. And blending wheat of various classes or origins purchased at different prices also helps the miller meet customer demand at the best possible variable cost.

In the next post in this series, we will address the potential changes to flour quality characteristics due to new crop wheat and blending to meet flour quality characteristics expected by our customers. As always, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) technical experts are available to answer any question our customers may have by contacting their local USW office, or by sharing a question in our new “Ask the Expert” section of our website at https://www.uswheat.org/market-and-crop-information/ask-the-expert/.

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By Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services

[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles to help flour millers transition efficiently and effectively from old to new crop wheat.]

As U.S. wheat farmers finally start harvesting their 2019 winter wheat crop, flour millers around the world turn their focus toward the quality characteristics of the new crop. Each year, millers must remember that wheat is a natural product, so its “millability” (how efficiently wheat can be turned into wheat flour) and quality are affected not only by the predominant and new varieties, but also the growing conditions for the wheat you are buying.

As a former commercial flour miller and milling instructor, I considered this as an ideal time to think about what impact the potential changes in the crop may have on the techniques required to transition new crop wheat on to the mill.

Mark Fowler (right), USW Vice President of Global Technical Services, is a former commercial flour miller and milling instructor at Kansas State University’s IGP Institute, here with millers in Taiwan.

To minimize changes to key quality characteristics their end users need to make a variety of bread and other products from wheat flour, millers will face the challenge of blending new crop with old crop wheat during the initial transition period. Blending wheat to maintain protein percentage and flour functionality characteristics gets the most attention as a matter of course. However, millability is affected by several quality characteristics. Moisture, test weight, kernel size and kernel hardness are just a few of the factors that millers must evaluate during this time of transition to optimize the quantity (extraction rate) and quality of the flour they will produce.

As U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) reports on the progress and quality of the 2019 U.S. wheat harvest over the next several weeks, our team of technical experts will provide a series of insights to help our flour miller customers prepare for integrating new crop wheat along with some interpretation of the potential impact of wheat quality results for the millers and end users. We will review such topics as wheat and flour blending, cleaning, tempering and conditioning and end use functionality.

Understanding the impact of the new wheat supply and preparing to make the necessary changes is the key to a successful crop transition. As always, USW technical experts are available to answer any question our customers may have by contacting their local USW office, or by sharing a question in our new “Ask the Expert” section of our website at https://www.uswheat.org/market-and-crop-information/ask-the-expert/.