thumbnail

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

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

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

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

Large Attendance

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

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

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

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

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

Positive Feedback

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

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

Mexico

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

China

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

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

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

Japan

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

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

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

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

South Korea

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

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

South America

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

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

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

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

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

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

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

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

By Ralph Loos, USW Director of Communications

thumbnail

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) brought a dozen pasta production specialists from around the world to North Dakota for a Northern Crops Institute (NCI) course designed to provide a better understanding of U.S. wheat and how wheat quality affects pasta quality. The course also helped attendees understand that, while pasta production is focused mostly on semolina from durum, pasta can be produced with other classes of U.S. wheat, such as hard red winter (HRW) and hard red spring (HRS).

The course took place a full two months before the upcoming World Pasta Day, which is Oct. 25. But the folks at NCI could argue they experienced a World Pasta Week – participants in the Aug. 21-25 course came from Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Chile, Mexico City, Honduras, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

This short video produced by NCI features participants talking about the opportunity. It also features USW Regional Technical Director Peter Lloyd, who offered the course valuable insight into optimal milling processes for pasta.

thumbnail

News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

Amidst the backdrop of diverse perspectives and conflicts of our times, farmers continue planting seeds of sustenance and resilience, stewarding the land for generations, and producing a safe and reliable food supply. The values of integrity, honesty, and care we see in agriculture offer a model for achieving sustainable progress in society and industries, ensuring that resources are managed in ways that benefit present and future generations. Farmers are at the heart of this truth.” – Jim Britt, Director of Communications, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Read more here.

World Wheat Production Ends Record Run

USDA reported this week that following 3 years of record production 2023/24 global wheat production is now forecast down as year-over-year reductions are forecast in the EU, Russia, Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan, and Brazil. Total wheat use has now exceeded production for 4 years running and tightening supplies in these major exporters puts exportable supplies at their lowest level in 11 years. Analysts suspect this bullish note will not spark a rally in part because USDA also reduced global wheat use estimates. Read more here.

WASDE Turns 50

USDA on Sept. 12 celebrated the 50th anniversary of its “World Agricultural Supply & Demand Estimates” or WASDE report. The report was established in September 1973 to “give the public the timeliest analytical information available officially from the Department.” Commenting on the report, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said: “This work behind the scenes gets attention in this moment, but then gets analyzed and utilized for weeks on end and helps to establish the market prices …” It is important for trade and global competition, he added. The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Supply and Demand report is based and expands on the monthly WASDE report. Listen to Vilsack’s comments here.

Wheat Disease Impact Much Lower in 2022

According to an analysis by the Crop Protection Network, disease in 2022 reduced wheat production by 3.6% in surveyed U.S. states and by 1.9% in Ontario. Overall reduction in 2022 was less than half that of any other year of data collection (2018-2021), and percentage losses were also much lower than previous years. Total estimated yield loss in 2022 from wheat disease in the U.S. and Ontario was 55.7 million bushels, valued at nearly $500 million. This does not include the economic costs of disease management practices such as fungicide seed treatment or foliar application, crop scouting, and development of disease-resistant varieties. Read more here.

This grid pattern represents the percentage of wheat production in 2022 by U.S. state and the Canadian province of Ontario among the states and Ontario surveyed by the Crop Protection Network for an analysis of wheat disease yield impact.

This grid pattern represents the percentage of wheat production in 2022 by U.S. state and the Canadian province of Ontario among the states and Ontario surveyed by the Crop Protection Network for an analysis of  disease yield impact.

Brabender Introduces New Farinograph

According to a company statement, Brabender has introduced a new “FarinoGraph” that offers new features, the latest technology, optimized user friendliness and more. Farinograph is used to determine water absorption capacity of flour and the rheological properties of dough. “Measurements with the new “FarinoGraph” are now even more automated and timesaving,” said Viktor Schäfer, Brabender business development manager software solutions. “For instance, we have implemented an artificial intelligence based on previous measurements to predict the measurement curve and added a function to save measurement time.” Read more here.

Pellman Makes Rounds with USW Policy Team

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) brought more than 20 wheat farmers to Washington, D.C. Sept. 12-13 for its annual fall “Fly-In.” The effort included two days of meeting members of Congress. Led by the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Trade Policy team, USW Secretary/Treasurer Jim Pellman joined his fellow wheat farmers at the Capitol to voice support USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, as well as the American Farmers Feed the World Act of 2023.

Pictured with Jim Pellman (far right) are Oklahoma farmer and NAWG Vice President Keeff Felty (left) and North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer (center) .

Pictured with Jim Pellman (far right) are Oklahoma farmer and NAWG Vice President Keeff Felty (left) and North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer (center) .

 

Subscribe to USW Reports

USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

Follow USW Online

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos, and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo and YouTube, and more on LinkedIn.

thumbnail

News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

“When we went to ethanol production, we had to have significantly more acres of corn and soybeans to a certain degree with biodiesel. You go back to 2006 and 2007, I remember traveling around the states telling Oklahoma wheat producers, ‘You have got a $1.25 to $1.50 free increase in your price simply because of the corn industry and bean industry.’ The corn industry has to increase their acreage dramatically, and soybeans have got to come in there and protect their acres.” – Oklahoma State University Extension Grain Market Economist Dr. Kim Anderson discussing a decline in wheat acreage in an interview with Oklahoma Farm Report’s Ron Hays.

Grain Deal Talks Expected to Resume in Sochi

As reported by several news outlets this week, the much-anticipated meeting between Turkish and Russian presidents over the fate of the grain initiative will be held on Sept. 4 in the Russian resort city of Sochi. The top issue will be the resumption of the grain deal that allowed the export of more than 33 million tons of wheat, corn and other food products from Ukraine to the world markets through Turkish straits. Russia canceled it on July 17 as it could not transport its own products due to the sanctions. Red more here.

USDA: Weather Slows U.S. Spring Wheat Harvest

World-Grain.com cited a USDA report that noted the winter wheat crop was “largely in the bin” but the spring crop was just more than half harvested and progressing slowly due to weather delays. The 2023 US winter wheat harvest was 96% complete by Aug. 20, USDA said in the final aggregate winter wheat harvest update in its weekly Crop Progress report. That compared with 94% a year earlier and matched the five-year average for the date. States with winter wheat remaining in fields at that time included California (97% complete), Colorado (99%), Idaho (70%), Michigan (95%), Montana (78%), Nebraska (99%), South Dakota (97%) and Washington (87%). Read more here.

High Pasta Prices Could Set in As Canada’s Durum Crop Suffers

An Aug. 30 report by Reuters suggests pasta lovers must brace to pay even higher prices for their favorite dish, as drought in Canada and bad weather in Europe damages crops of durum wheat and reduces supplies available to flour millers and food companies. Some estimates released prior to the report release pointed to production falling below 4 MMT. Two upcoming estimates will lead to potential revisions to this data, with Statistics Canada to report official estimates for 2022-23 ending stocks on Sept. 8, followed by an updated production estimate on Sept. 14. Read more here.

Quality Survey Shows Reduced French Wheat Protein Levels

Updated quality results from the 2023 French soft wheat harvest showed the percentage of the crop meeting protein requirements for milling had dropped to 91% from an 93%, but remained above a five-year average of 87%, farm office FranceAgriMer said. The survey by was based on data representing 92% of the harvest, compared with 80% the previous week. It also showed that 69% of the crop had test weights above 76 kg per hectolitre (kg/hl), down from 74% the previous week and a five-year average of 79%. Read more here.

Breeding Wheat Plants with Better Starch

A team of UK researchers has figured out how low-quality starch grows in wheat. The discovery, published in The Plant Cell, could help breed plants with more control over their starch. As well as being an important nutritional source of carbohydrates, starch is a valuable ingredient in brewing, glue, paper, textiles, and construction materials. “We discovered that the ubiquitous enzyme, (PHS1) is crucial for the formation of B-type granules in wheat,” says lead author Dr Nitin Uttam Kamble, a postdoctoral scientist at the John Innes Centre, UK. “This is a scientific breakthrough … it shows that the A- and B-type granules of wheat form via different biochemical mechanisms. We can now use this knowledge to create variations in starch for different food and industrial applications.” Read more here.

Subscribe to USW Reports

USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

Follow USW Online

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos, and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo and YouTube, and more on LinkedIn.

thumbnail

News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

The team had a chance to visit all aspects of the supply chain, from farm to export elevator, and learn about the FGIS inspection process, giving them a sense of how US wheat quality is ensured throughout the way. These visits provide reassurance to overseas buyers that they are getting the quality they want, and face-to-face visits go a long way in providing trust and confidence in our buyers and establishing long-term relationships.Chad Weigand, USW Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, discussing a trade team from Nigeria and Kenya visiting the U.S. wheat industry in August 2023.

Map of Canada showing significant drought in western Canadian provinces. Map Source Canadian Drought Monitor.

Canadian Durum and Wheat Crop Watch

An Aug. 10 Western Producer article said Canadian market analyst Bruce Burnett on July 19 forecasted a national average durum yield of 26 bu. per acre, down from afive-year average of 37.3 bu. per acre. Burnett forecasted total Canadian production of 4.09 million metric tons (MMT), down 25% from last year. The article included a Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission officer saying the crop has further deteriorated since Burnett’s presentation. He thinks the production number “will start with a three, although it will likely be higher than the 3.2 MMT produced in 2021.” Read more here.

Durum Foods Online Course

North Dakota State University and the Northern Crops Institute recently launched an online course titled “Developing Innovations with Durum: More than Just Pasta.” The course costs $250 and will the knowledge on how durum can be beneficial in other facets than just pasta. It will touch on the many unique traits of durum, nutrition components, an overview on procession, as well as sourcing the material. Participants can work at their own pace and will enjoy lectures from milling experts, understand how to utilize this product, and will know exactly where they can buy durum flour for cooking and baking. The course can be completed at the participant’s on pace. Register online at: http://durumfoods.com/.

Wheat’s Influence on World History

Recently Kansas Public Radio reported on the surprising role of wheat in world history from ancient Greece to modern-day Ukraine and Kansas. The non-profit network conducted an interview with Scott Reynolds Nelson, the author of “Oceans of Grain: How American Wheat Remade the World.” Listen to the interview here.

The Journey of Wheat

Oregon Wheat has created an “infographic” that depicts the journey Oregon wheat takes to from the farm to its end destination for a domestic or overseas customer. Here is a link to “Follow the Wheat.” To view the U.S. Wheat Associates program “Wholesome: The Journey of U.S. Wheat,” visit our Vimeo page here.

South Dakota Wheat to Move Its Office

The South Dakota Wheat Commission has made the decision to relocate its office from Pierre to Brookings, South Dakota. The new location, on the campus of the South Dakota State University Research Park, will allow for increased dialog and collaboration with the SDSU research team.  The move is expected to be complete by Oct.1. The Commission’s new mailing address is:

South Dakota Wheat Commission

2301 Research Park Way, Suite 253

Brookings SD 57006

Subscribe to USW Reports

USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

Follow USW Online

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos, and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo and YouTube, and more on LinkedIn.

thumbnail
USW Director of Trade Policy Peter Laudeman during one of the many stops on the 2023 Spring Wheat and Durum Tour across North Dakota.

USW Director of Trade Policy Peter Laudeman during one of the many stops on the 2023 Spring Wheat and Durum Tour across North Dakota.

Participating in the Wheat Quality Council’s Spring and Durum Wheat Tour for the first time, U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) Peter Laudeman was eager to discover what he could learn about the 2023 crop across an important section of the Northern Plains.

He wasn’t disappointed.

The tour, which included examination of more than 300 spring wheat and durum fields in North Dakota and western Minnesota, was supplemented by information about the timing of the current crop, along with the weather patterns that affect it.

“Overall, we saw a wide variety of crop conditions, with the conditions and maturity largely depending on planting dates,” reported Laudeman, USW’s Director of Trade Policy. “In general, the later planted wheat looked like it may have better potential as long as it has enough time to mature.”

Production. Process and People

Not only did Laudeman experience differing field conditions on the Wheat Quality Council’s Spring Wheat Tour, he was also able to participate in the analytics: those on the tour were asked to write down details and measurements from each field, with those measurements used to help formulate yield estimates.

Importantly, he was also able to interact with a sizeable cross-section of the U.S. wheat industry.

“There was a diverse variety of people from across the wheat value chain, many who were getting into wheat fields for the first time,” Laudeman explained. “It was especially great to see so many participants from the USDA, including representatives from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) who will be able to use their experience with the tour as a concrete proof point in their work with overseas customers for U.S. commodity exports.”

The tour included the examination of more than 300 spring wheat and durum fields in North Dakota and western Minnesota. It was supplemented by information about the timing of the current crop, along with the weather patterns that affect it.

The tour included the examination of more than 300 spring wheat and durum fields in North Dakota and western Minnesota. It was supplemented by information about the timing of the current crop, along with the weather patterns that affect it.

2023 Crop Looks ‘Average’

The three-day tour wrapped up July 27 with presentations in Fargo by the Northern Crops Institute (NCI) at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Overall, reports from the tour indicate North Dakota wheat farmers later this summer will be harvesting an average crop with good quality. The tour estimated the average hard red spring wheat yield at 47.4 bushels per acre, a bit below the 2022 tour estimate of 49.1.

Tour is Important Tool

Wheat Quality Council Executive Vice President David Green, who organized the tour, said the event is all about providing insight and education.

“Along with calculating and estimating the crop’s potential, we also aim to educate people who are new to the industry, or even those in the industry who have not experienced this process,” said Green.

thumbnail

U.S. durum producers appreciate World Pasta Day – widely celebrated each Oct. 25 – because it pays tribute to a product made from the wheat they grow.

But many of them agree with Erica Olson, who believes “every day is Pasta Day” for at least one segment of the wheat industry.

That will be especially true next month when Olson, market development and research manager for the North Dakota Wheat Commission, travels to Europe to participate in a U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Crop Quality Seminar. Over the course of a week, Olson and USW Vice President of Programs Erica Oakley will present on the 2022 U.S. wheat crop – including durum, the primary wheat class used for making pasta – to wheat buyers in Italy and the United Kingdom. Other USW staff will host similar sessions for buyers in Spain and Portugal.

“Buyers from Italy are especially curious each year to hear about the U.S. durum crop and there are always a lot of questions,” explained Olson. “They are very quality-conscious, and pasta makers in Italy have a strong focus on the quality of the wheat they purchase. This year we will be able to share that the U.S. durum supply has rebounded, and the overall crop is exceptionally good.”

North Dakota produces a majority of the U.S. northern durum crop, followed by Montana. The Desert Durum® class is grown in Arizona and California.

Among the things Olson and Oakley will share with European buyers about the 2022 U.S. durum crop is that semolina color values are very high, which is an important quality for pasta makers who annually seek two things in the wheat they purchase: color and hardness.

Celebrating Pasta on a Global Scale

World Pasta Day was the result of 40 pasta makers from around the world gathering in Rome, Italy in 1995 for the inaugural World Pasta Congress. The goal of the special day is to promote  pasta consumption, as well celebrating its culinary and cultural importance.

The International Pasta Organization (IPO) was formed on Oct. 25, 2005, and was formally constituted in Italy a year later. IPO coordinates international communications aimed at safeguarding the product, develops common strategies to promote the worldwide consumption of pasta, and creates and manages information and food education.

While celebrations vary in each country, World Pasta Day focuses on consumers – the people around the world who enjoy eating some of the 600 or so shapes and sizes of pasta.

For U.S. durum producers, World Pasta Day is an opportunity to take pride in the role they play in putting high quality pasta on the plates of consumers around the world.

thumbnail

The 2022 Hard Spring Wheat Tour sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council ended July 28 with a very positive outlook for the U.S. hard red spring (HRS) and durum crop. The wheat is behind its normal development at this time of year because of late planting, but more than 50 industry participants determined a total weighted average HRS yield estimate of 49.1 bushels per acre (about 3.3 metric tons per hectare). The weighted average durum yield was 39 bu/a, or about 2.7 MT/ha.

Those estimates are the highest since the spring wheat tour estimated an average HRS yield of 49.9 bu/a in 2015. Following the drought-ravaged 2021 crop, the much-improved potential of this crop is welcome news to spring wheat farmers. Harvest is not expected to start for at least 3 weeks, depending on weather conditions but the industry is cautiously optimistic.

Photo of Tyllor Ledford on 2022 Spring Wheat Tour

Measuring for Yield Potential. USW Assistant Director, West Coast Office, Tyllor Ledford measures a section of a North Dakota HRS crop to start calculating yield potential on the 2022 Hard Spring Wheat tour. Photo by Jeff Beach, AgWeek.

Neal Fisher, Executive Director of the North Dakota Wheat Commission told Progressive Farmer/DTN that there is a lot of potential “if we do not have an early frost of rain at harvest, and we can keep diseases [and pests] at bay.” The spring wheat tour scouts did see evidence of grasshopper damage in the crop, pest pressure likely resulting from the drought last year.

Happy Customer

In the same article, a representative of a large U.S. snack food company said participating in the spring wheat tour helped him understand future [supply] risks. He added that he was happy with the yield potential and thought the wheat quality “was great.”

Buyers and Farmers Together

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Assistant Director, West Coast Office, Tyllor Ledford participated in the 2022 spring wheat tour. Dave Green, Executive Director, Wheat Quality Council, noted that having representatives from milling and wheat food processing industries participate with farmers and other stakeholders is a crucial part of the annual tours.

The real value of the tour said one farmer is connecting with buyers and end-users in the fields to show them how farmers manage their crops for the best potential yield and functional quality.

thumbnail

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 durum 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 1.6 million metric tons (MMT), or about 58.79 million bushels. In part because of regional economies of scale, U.S. imports of durum at a 5-year average are 1.18 million metric tons (MMT). In comparison, export volume at a 5-year average is slightly less than 680 thousand metric tons (TMT).

Northern durum is grown in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana and 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. These groups authorize using the mark only for designated durum grain produced under irrigation in Arizona and California’s desert valleys and lowlands. Desert Durum® is exported from the Gulf or the West Coast.

Image shows long goods pasta production in a commercial plant.

The finest quality pasta is produced from U.S. durum grown in the northern Plains and in the southwest as Desert Durum®.

Milling Advantages

U.S. durum is competitive mostly 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% vitreous kernels; Amber Durum with 60% to 74% vitreous kernels; and Durum with less than 60% vitreous kernels. Higher HVK values yield a larger quantity of semolina. U.S. durum has a large kernel size, allowing millers to benefit from higher extraction rates.

Desert Durum® is harvested and shipped at a very low moisture content. This advantage to millers contributes to efficient transportation costs and high extraction rates. It also 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. Other products made from durum include couscous and some varieties of traditional Mediterranean semolina bread. In all durum food products, one quality factor is the most critical to the consumer – color. In its purest form, pasta 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 HVK level. The higher HVK also allows the miller to provide a more uniform, consistent semolina to the pasta process, thus improving production efficiencies and color.

Image shows couscous made from durum wheat

Couscous is produced with durum wheat.

Sourcing Opportunities

Like some other classes of wheat, U.S. durum planted area is declining. Proactively working with producers and suppliers 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 from late May to 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 must be proactive when working with suppliers to obtain the best quality available, 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 class of U.S. wheat brings value to the market through specific 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 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 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.

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 Red Spring
Hard White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter

thumbnail

The U.S. durum market remains supported by tight supplies, leading to a reduction in consumption that may, or may not, hold until the 2022 harvest. That is an observation by North Dakota Wheat Commission Policy and Marketing Director Jim Peterson in a Feb. 2, 2022, webinar sponsored by the Northern Crops Institute (NCI).

Following a run up fueled by supply issues, durum prices have “softened in values since mid-January,” Peterson said. That is reflected in what the International Grains Council estimates as a 20-year low in total durum use.

For example, USDA currently expects U.S. durum exports in 2021/22 at 410,000 metric tons (MT). U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) reports commercial U.S. durum sales at about 168,000 MT to date in marketing year 2021/22. That is down from about 658,000 MT at the same time last year. Canadian durum exports from August through December 2021 are also about half their total sales compared to the year before.

This bar chart of U.S. durum market supply and demand for the past six years shows lower production and demand in 2021/22.

U.S. Durum Market Supply and Demand. Drought cut U.S. durum production in 2021, and in Canada. Higher prices have rationed demand, reflected in USDA’s lower export estimate as of February 2022.

Buying Hand-to-Mouth

Peterson said durum buyers are only purchasing when the market gives them a chance to save some money. In addition, end-users are, when possible, increasing the amount of non-durum wheat flour for pasta production.

“We will see how long that rationing can continue,” Peterson said. He said buyers will have to replenish supplies before the 2022 harvest starts in June.

European durum prices are lower than Canadian and U.S. durum market prices. However, we sense more tightness in the European market and hopefully, that will translate into some export sales over the next few months,” Peterson said.

What is Ahead?

Phone of Jim Peterson

Jim Peterson, Policy and Marketing Director, North Dakota Wheat Commission.

North American farmers are now making spring planting plans. In the U.S durum market, farmers will consider the difference in federal crop insurance prices for hard red spring (HRS) and durum crops, Peterson explained.

“There is no question that the durum crop insurance price will be at a premium to spring wheat,” he said. Farmers will know what the difference is after February. In addition, Peterson said U.S. farmers will compare the potential income from durum and spring wheat before making their planting decisions.

Still, the Canadian and U.S. durum markets could see a 10% increase in durum planted area in 2022.

Tight Supplies

Of course, until the 2022 durum crop gets in market position, Peterson noted, “we could have some very tight months coming up depending on what happens with demand.”

Readers can watch a recording of NCI’s one-hour webinar on the world and U.S. durum market online here.