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.


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.


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


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.


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

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

2021 U.S. durum sampling data

Weather and Harvest

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

2021 Crop Highlights

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

Read more about the 2021 Northern Durum wheat crop here.

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

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


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

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

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

The weekly Harvest Report is a key component of USW’s international technical and marketing programs. It is a resource that helps customers understand how the crop situation may affect basis values and export prices.

USW’s overseas offices share the report with their market contacts and use it as a key resource for answering inquiries and meeting with customers. Several USW offices publish the reports in the local language. Additional links to Harvest Report are available on USW’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

View the full Winter 2021 Wheat Supply and Demand Outlook at


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

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


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

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

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

Wheat and Grade Data:

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

Semolina and Processing Data:

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

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

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

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


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

As a key part of its commitment to transparency and trade service, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has produced its annual Crop Quality Report that includes grade, flour and baking data for all six U.S. wheat classes. The report compiles comprehensive data from analysis of hundreds of samples conducted during and after harvest by our partner organizations and laboratories. The report provides essential, objective information to help buyers get the wheat they need at the best value possible.

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

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

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