The North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) and the U.S. Durum Growers Association (USDGA) held a virtual “Northern Durum Pre-Harvest Update” Aug. 18 featuring industry experts, farmers and university Extension workers reporting on the 2020 northern durum crop. The hosts recorded the session which is now posted on the USDGA YouTube channel here and on the NDWC event page here.

More than 60 participants heard first-hand accounts about what is expected to be a larger crop by about 12 percent compared to 2019, mainly from increased planted area. Yield and quality likely will vary because early planted fields in North Dakota did not get rain at the ideal time for growth and tillering, while later planted fields caught rain in late June into mid-July at the right time for development. Precipitation across Montana’s western durum production region was more timely and yield potential is expected to be more consistent there.

“USDA’s current forecast for North Dakota is 42.8 bushels per acre, which is above the trend line but less than in 2019,” said Jim Peterson, NDWC Policy and Marketing Director. “Production is estimated now at 62 million bushels, or 1.69 million metric tons, in the state.”

Sam Anderson, Industry Analyst and Marketing Coordinator with the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, told the participants that farmers there are generally very pleased with their northern durum crops.

“There was more durum and hard red spring wheat seeded because of the extremely wet conditions last fall that kept farmers from putting in hard red winter wheat,” Anderson said. “As of Aug. 1, the average yield forecast is 38.0 bushels per acre, which would put the total production estimate in the state at 22.42 million bushels,” or more than 610,000 metric tons.

Farmers from across North Dakota also reported from their own fields. Mark Birdsall farms in Ward County and showed some later-seeded durum that has “a really good stand … tall with heavy heads,” that is about 3 weeks from maturity. His grandson Owen held plants from the field that stood close to his height of 5 feet (1.524 meters).

Mark Birdsall’s grandson Owen, who stands about 5 feet (1.524 meters) tall holds plants from a later seeded durum crop that almost match his height.

Blake Inman of Berthold, N.D., is USDGA’s President this year, and noted that his durum looked good, particularly the later-seeded fields. He expects to start his harvest in about 3 weeks but was somewhat concerned about variable maturity and late season weed growth that could cause challenges at harvest.

USDGA President and Berthold, N.D., farmer Blake Inman expects good yields from this northern durum field.

Adam Carney farms in Montana’s “Platinum Square,” as the northeast corner of the state is called. With plenty of timely rains, he says his durum “should provide a nice yield and quality.”

The northern durum harvest is currently underway and is a bit more advanced in Montana. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will soon begin reporting on northern durum quality as samples are collected and analyzed for USW’s 2020 Harvest Report.



For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.

Member: Montana Wheat and Barley Committee
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Great Falls, Mont.
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard Red Spring (HRS), Durum
USW Leadership:  James E. Jenks, 1984/85 Chairman; Richard Sampsen, 1995/96 Chairman; Leonard Schock, 2006/07 Chairman; Janice Mattson, 2009/10 Chairperson; Chris Kolstad, 2018/19 Chairman.

The mission of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee (MWBC) is to protect and foster the health and prosperity of the Montana wheat and barley industry by encouraging scientific research to improve production and quality; maintaining current markets; promoting new market development; and serving as an educational and informational resource.

2018/19 Chairman Chris Kolstad from Montana (R) passes the gavel to 2019/20 Chairman Doug Goyings from Ohio.

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

Montana exports most of its wheat to partners around the world. Wheat production in the state is logistically advantaged to efficiently fill shuttle trains with hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) bound for the Pacific Northwest (PNW) ports. Montana’s wheat is often considered as improver classes because it offers strong functional characteristics. The extreme summer heat and extreme winter cold together are conducive to growing excellent small grains with high protein. Montana wheat is desired by quality-conscious customers, making the Pacific Rim our largest market. Market development efforts are very important to Montana farmers and USW plays a key role in identifying potential markets and maintaining existing markets. Our farmers have invested in these efforts since 1967 when our committee was formed, and our very low checkoff refund rate shows Montana farmers understand the value of these efforts.

Montana wheat farmer and USW Director Denise Conover traveled with USW to Tanzania and Kenya in November 2019 to learn more about food aid programs and wheat monetization. Read more.

How have Montana wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

MWBC hosts upwards of 100 overseas trade team visitors each year. Our farmers love hosting trade delegations and are quick to open their homes to our guests. Showcasing a way of life that often spans many generations is a great point of pride for Montana farmers, and discussions on best practices and planting decisions often lead to 3-hour dinners and forming long-term connections. Montana farmers view our overseas customers as an extended family.

Current circumstances are transforming the way we reach customers, including taking part in weekly updates and virtual meetings hosted by USW. MWBC is being proactive in our efforts as the uncertainty associated with the pandemic has brought challenges. However, our farmers are not slowing down. They are working their hardest to continue to supply the market with the highest quality wheat in the world.

A USW 2019 trade delegation from Japan visiting a farm in Montana.

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

  • We are developing a video series that creates a virtual trade delegation experience and focuses on what a visitor would learn and experience if they were visiting Montana in person. The series will tour the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) certified State Grain Lab with a look at the grading process and factors that set Montana wheat apart, and feature a farm tour to present crop rotation, precision agriculture and other sustainable practices.
  • Montana State University (MSU) has done an excellent job keeping research projects moving forward during the pandemic and is hiring a new endowed chair and HRS wheat breeder. Montana farmers invest over $2 million every year in wheat and barley research.
  • MSU wheat breeding programs continue to focus on quality, traits like low PPO and increased stability and developing durum varieties.

Montana farmers would like to thank USW for their continued efforts in developing and maintaining overseas markets. Without these efforts a lot of us would not be able to do what we love out in “Big Sky Country.” Many Montana farmers have hosted overseas visitors traveling with USW and have made lifelong friendships and memories because of it. Those experiences have outlasted cultural, political and historical differences over the last 50+ years for MWBC.

Learn more about the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee on its website here and on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.


A trade delegation of Japanese executive millers visited 2018/19 USW Chairman and Montana wheat farmer Chris Kolstad on his farm in 2019.

Janice Mattson, a wheat farmer from Montana, was USW’s first female chair in 2009/10. She was also featured in a 4-part series about the U.S. wheat supply chain system in 2014. View that series here.


Al Klempel (L), a wheat farmer from Montana, traveled with USW to Spain, Portugal and Morocco on a board team trip in 2019. The team is pictured here with equipment sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates at the IFIM milling school in Casablanca. Read more.

Leonard Schock, 2006/07 USW Chairman and a Montana wheat farmer presented at the 2016 North Asia Marketing Conference in Guam.


2018/19 USW Chairman Chris Kolstad, a wheat farmer from Montana, and NAWG President, Ben Scholz, a wheat farmer from Texas, represented the U.S. wheat industry at the 2017 National Association of Farm Broadcasting Trade Talk event.




For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.

Member: Idaho Wheat Commission
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Boise, Idaho
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard Red Spring (HRS), Hard White (HW), Soft White (SW), Durum
USW Leadership: Boyd Schwieder, 2005/06 Chairman; Jim McDonald, 2002/03 Chairman; Jerry Kress, 1998/99 Chairman; Dallin Reese, 1987/88 Chairman

Wheat is grown in 42 of Idaho’s 44 counties and ranks as the state’s second largest crop, behind potatoes. About half of Idaho’s crop goes to domestic mills and the other half is exported, primarily through Pacific Northwest (PNW) ports to Asian and Latin American customers. Idaho typically ranks in the top seven U.S. states for wheat production. An average of 1.2 million acres of wheat is planted each year and yields per acre are among the highest in the nation.

IWC Commissioner and wheat farmer Clark Hamilton was a member of the 2016 USW Board team that traveled to Japan and Korea.

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

Idaho exports about half of its wheat, but strong global demand contributes to the profitability of all Idaho growers by increasing farmgate wheat prices. Through its partnership with USW, the Idaho Wheat Commission (IWC) leverages the market intelligence and valuable customer relationships established around the world, in order to find new markets and sustain demand in established markets. USW programs bring the customers and growers together, facilitating a personal connection that is key to the continued success of the Idaho and U.S. wheat industries. We are grateful to USW for the work their team does to develop and maintain relationships for our growers with buyers in other countries and we wish for many more prosperous years to come.

IWC Commissioner and wheat farmer Joe Anderson (second from left) participated on the 2019 USW South Asia Board Team trip to the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.

How have Idaho wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

Idaho hosts multiple international trade delegations each year from many different countries. Participants follow the entire supply chain to see how wheat gets from the ground to its destination in the mill. These customers visit quality control labs and wheat breeding programs, visit farms and see how growers take care to produce high-quality wheat and then go on to visit the local grain handlers who move the wheat by rail, barge and container. Idaho is unique in that it has an inland “ocean port.” At the Lewis-Clark Terminal in Lewiston, Idaho, wheat is loaded onto barges that travel down the Columbia-Snake River System to the export facilities near Portland, Ore.

Additionally, IWC commissioners and staff regularly participate in events overseas. Recently, for example, Commissioner Clark Hamilton joined Idaho Governor Brad Little in a goodwill mission to Taiwan, a country with which IWC has a long and fruitful relationship. Commissioner Bill Flory also visited Japan with USW to meet with longtime friends of IWC and major buyers of SW, HRS and HRW wheat.

With the current travel restrictions, IWC is working to connect virtually with customers through USW online programs.

IWC Commissioner Bill Flory hosted the 2019 Philippine Trade Team on his farm.

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

  • Wheat growers in Idaho are diligently tending to their crops and working like any other year, despite the global pandemic. Favorable weather throughout the growing season has the crop in excellent condition just a few weeks from the start of harvest. The transportation system is running smoothly, and customers can expect mostly normal operations. The Columbia-Snake River System is critical for reliably and affordably shipping grains from the PNW to overseas markets.
  • Our new executive director, Casey Chumrau, has extensive international wheat marketing experience gained as a marketing manager for USW’s South American region, based in Santiago, Chile, and as a USW market analyst.*
  • IWC invests one-third of its annual budget into research that will help Idaho growers produce high-quality wheat that customers demand. Research ranges from production practices to end-use quality.

Learn more about the Idaho Wheat Commission on its website here and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

*USW wants to thank Blaine Jacobson, who recently retired after many years as IWC’s executive director, for his dedicated service to wheat farmers and support for export market development.

Longtime IWC Executive Director Blaine Jacobson (L) retired in June 2020 after 18 years of service. He’s show here being congratulated by IWC Chairman Ned Moon.

IWC Commissioner and wheat farmer Jerry Brown represented Idaho at the 2017 USW Crop Quality Seminars in Asia.

IWC Commissioner Clark Hamilton (directly behind photo in white), a farmer from Idaho, participated on the 2018 USW Board Team that traveled to China and Taiwan.

IWC Commissioner and Idaho wheat farmer Bill Flory traveled to Japan with USW to participate in the 2019 Japan Buyers Conference.


For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.

Member: California Wheat Commission
Member of USW since 1994

Location: Woodland, Calif.
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard White (HW), Soft White (SW), Durum
USW Leadership:  Roy Motter, 2014/15 Chairman

Wheat is an important part of farming economics in California both as a valuable rotational crop and a primary crop. The California Wheat Commission’s (CWC) mission is “to support research that improves California wheat quality and marketability, and to develop and maintain domestic and international markets for California wheat.”

USW Past President Alan Tracy visited 2014/15 Chairman Roy Motter on his farm in California in 2015.

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

Since wheat is a global commodity, U.S. pricing is tied to the ups and downs of the global marketplace. A strong export market leads to a higher market value and potentially a higher premium for California wheat. While flour milled from California wheat has many coveted qualities for baking, pasta and tortilla manufacturers, any pricing premium will be a percentage over the U.S. market. Due to the competition of other high value crops in California, bolstered global wheat prices influence additional planted and harvested acres of wheat. U.S. Wheat Associates unites wheat growers to work together for our common good. As wheat growers, we have all benefited from our membership and USW’s staff working on trade policy, opening new markets and strengthening relationships both domestically and globally to grow our industry.

How have California wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

California wheat farmers connect with overseas customers in USW meetings. California also hosts customers from various mills as part of California Wheat Commission’s training courses. This face to face interaction and learning is the best way for us to build strong relationships with our customers.

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

  • The California Wheat Lab offers milling, baking, pasta making and other flour-based product training. We partner with Andrea Saturno and Marco Fava to offer a pasta course in Spanish.
  • CWC is currently working on creating a targeted artisan baking product course for white and whole grain flours.
  • In collaboration with the University of California-Davis (UCD), CWC developed a new preferred variety list for hard white and hard red wheat and is developing a list for durum wheat. Also, in collaboration with UCD, we have released varieties with high fiber, high yellow pigment and increased protein content. Breeding for high nutrient density wheat crops continues to be a priority for the breeding program, in addition to quality and yield improvements.

Learn more about the California Wheat Commission on its website here and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin.

Past Chairman Roy Motter and his family’s California wheat farm were featured in a USW profile series on sustainability practices. View the profile here.

2014/15 Chairman Roy Motter, a wheat farmer from California (R) is congratulated on his year of service by 2013/14 Chairman Dan Hughes, a wheat farmer from Nebraska (L).

CWC Executive Director Claudia Carter at the California Wheat Lab.


For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.

Member: North Dakota Wheat Commission
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Mandan, N.D.
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Spring (HRS); Durum
USW Leadership: James Ole Sampson, 1980/81, USW’s first Chairman; Cecil Watson, 1992/93 Chairman; Alan Lee, 2003/04 Chairman; Brian O’Toole, 2015/16 Chairman.

The North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) works to sustain and expand use of wheat grown by North Dakota farmers by creating worldwide market opportunities through efforts including opening overseas markets, reinforcing consumption of grain foods, developing new wheat varieties and influencing international import and export policies. Wheat producers fund these programs with a checkoff of a penny and a half on each bushel sold.

NDWC Commissioner David Clough congratulates 2015/16 USW Chairman Brian O’Toole, a wheat farmer from North Dakota, at the 2016 Summer Board Meeting in Fargo, N.D.

Why is export market development important to North Dakota wheat farmers and why do they continue to support USW and its activities?

Many variables drive wheat prices globally and export market share. Some of these variables, such as global production, quality impacts from adverse weather, political and economic trends, or “black swan” events like COVID-19 can dramatically affect trade flows and prices. USW provides the network to help react to those larger forces, drive needed policy changes in trade or market tangibles, and tweak the little things that can add up to a big difference in the final sale. Every wheat producer wants to build the optimum market share and the highest local price within the global competitive environment, but we cannot do market development as a single state. USW helps ensure we are reaching out to current and potential customers on an individual basis, by promoting the wheat grown on individual farms through the synergies only achieved from a collective marketing force across multiple states and producers.

Our board members consider USW to be the “boots on the ground” to promote our high quality HRS, durum and other U.S. wheat classes.

In recent years, the value of USW marketing programs and staff, have become even more important, in our perspective, due to the consolidation and shift in major export companies. Most now source their wheat from multiple origins and promote their sales on that basis. USW helps customers find the best source and class of U.S. wheat for their needs. They help provide the real picture of what U.S. produced wheat can provide to customers, and help trouble shoot any challenges customers may have in accessing or utilizing wheat from the United States.

Without the government programs that once existed to support U.S. wheat exports more effort is needed to educate customers on the higher value and reliability of U.S. wheat, in the face of intense price competition. The reputation that the U.S. has as a premium source of wheat, is largely due to the day-to-day activities of USW. Investment in export market development will always be a priority for North Dakota wheat producers since we rely on export markets for slightly more than half of our annual production of HRS and roughly 40 percent of our durum.

USW Director of Communications Amanda Spoo (middle) with past NDWC Commissioner David Clough and his wife Aileen on their farm during the 2018 Spring Wheat Tour.

How have North Dakota wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

Traditionally, North Dakota hosts trade delegations from various countries every summer. Our producers enjoy these teams as an opportunity to visit with customers face-to-face. Our customer educational program involves an extensive overview of our wheat breeding and quality research programs, current crop prospects or harvest quality, risk management strategies, and visits to a local elevator and wheat farm family. We strive to showcase the unique qualities of our wheat, and build a trust and a relationship with customers, assuring them that North Dakota producers are committed to raising some of the best wheat in the world, designed with the customer in mind.

Last fall, Commissioners Greg Svenningsen and Philip Volk attended the Japan Buyers Conference and various other commissioners have participated in USW board travel, meeting key customers around the world and USW staff. Producers return from board travel with a new understanding of key customer markets and a keen appreciation for USW staff working overseas on their behalf.

The Northern Crops Institute (NCI) Grain Procurement course, held since 1983, has also been a great opportunity for producers to interact with customers with USW sending key participants.

Currently, NDWC is exploring and enacting efforts, along with USW, to interact with customers on a virtual platform. This is needed with the current travel restrictions worldwide and may offer additional opportunities to reach more customers within a country or region.

NDWC Commissioner Phil Volk and his family were featured in a USW video shoot during their 2019 spring wheat harvest.

What’s happening lately in North Dakota that overseas customers should know about?

Producing a quality product is a source of pride for North Dakota wheat farm families. NDWC contributes about 40 percent of its budget to research, prioritizing investment on customer needs – specifically end-use quality. Our board understands the need to maintain HRS and durum quality to continue to meet customer demands. Wheat is grown all over the world, and many customers can source general quality wheat from closer points of origin. Our wheat needs to provide special, inherent quality attributes that cannot be sourced elsewhere. The consistent, and strong track record of export sales to many traditional customers attests to the benefits this focus on quality has brought to our producers. Our board members and other producers involved in Commission activities have genuine enthusiasm for growing quality wheat for customers, once they learn more about customer needs and meet customers in person.

Learn more about the North Dakota Wheat Commission on its website here and on Facebook.

Current and past NDWC commissioners at the 2016 USW Summer Board Meeting in Fargo, N.D.


NDWC Administrator Neal Fisher at the 2017 USW World Staff Conference in Estes Park, Colo.




NDWC Commissioner Phil Volk and North Dakota wheat farmer (far left) participated on the 2019 USW South Asia Board Team trip to the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.



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

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

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

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

USW’s overseas offices share the report with their market contacts and use it as a key resource for answering inquiries and meeting with customers. USW/Mexico City also publishes the report in Spanish.

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

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



By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

With winter wheat prices remaining at or less than the cost of production and with a very wet planting season, it is no surprise that many U.S. farmers chose to plant slightly less winter wheat for harvest in 2020. USDA’s 2020/21 Winter Wheat Seedings report, released Jan. 10, reported U.S. farmers planted 30.8 million acres (12.5 million hectares) of winter wheat, down slightly from 2019/20 and 7% less than the 5-year average of 33.2 million acres (13.4 million hectares). Decreases for HRW and white winter wheat more than offset an increase in SRW planted area. USDA noted that this is the second smallest number of winter wheat acres on record.

Hard red winter (HRW). USDA assessed HRW planted area at 21.8 million acres (9.35 million hectares), down 1% from 2018. Planted acreage is down year-over-year in several major HRW-producing states with the largest decreases reported in Colorado, Montana and Nebraska. Colorado planted area fell 12% year-over-year to 1.90 million acres due to extreme dryness in the southeast, depressed commodity prices and pest pressure in the northeast. Record low planted area of 900,000 acres (364,000 hectares) in Nebraska can be attributed to weaker marketing conditions and an overly wet, late soybean harvest which prevented fall HRW planting.

“This didn’t just happen overnight,” says Royce Schaneman, executive director of the Nebraska Wheat Board. “State-wide plantings have been trending down for a number of years due to poor marketing conditions.”

HRW planted area in Kansas and Oklahoma is stable year-over-year at 6.90 million acres (2.79 million hectares) and 4.20 million acres (1.7 million hectares), respectively.

Total winter wheat planted area in Texas jumped 9% year-over-year to 4.90 million acres (1.94 million hectares). About 95% of Texas winter wheat is HRW and 5% is SRW.

“Adequate soil moisture in many regions, combined with favorable marketing conditions compared to cotton, allowed producers to maximize HRW acres,” says Darby Campsey, director of communications and producer relations for the Texas Wheat Producers Board.

In South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, a very wet fall also prevented more HRW seeding, although these states usually plant a relatively small percentage of total U.S. HRW.

Soft red winter (SRW). Total SRW planted area of 5.64 million acres (2.28 million hectares) increased 8% from 2018. Increases in most SRW-producing states more than offset decreases in Delaware, Illinois Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin.

According to Tadd Nicholson, executive director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, the state’s SRW planted area increased 12% over last year to 560,000 acres (227,000 hectares) due to ideal, timely planting conditions following a miserably wet spring which left many corn and soybean acres unplanted.

In Illinois, SRW planted area fell 25% from last year to 490,000 acres (198,000 hectares).

“It was one of the craziest years for weather in Illinois,” says Mike Doherty, interim executive director of the Illinois Wheat Association “It was the third wettest year on record and most of the precipitation fell in the first eight months. Farmers were beside themselves trying to manage other crops through the wet weather. Across the state, corn and soybeans were harvested 30 to 60 days late. You just can’t plant winter wheat if you can’t get the other crops out of the ground.”

There is also SRW grown in areas of Texas and Campsey reports that “strong marketing opportunities and better, dryer planting conditions for SRW compared to last year’s overly wet field conditions led to a significant increase in SRW acreage year-over-year.”

White winter wheat. White winter wheat planted area fell to an estimated 3.37 million acres (1.36 million hectares), down 4% from 2018. White winter wheat planted area in Idaho, Oregon and Washington fell below last year. Idaho farmers reported planting 720,000 acres (291,000 hectares) compared to 730,000 acres (295,000 hectares) in 2018. Planted area in Oregon fell 5% from last year to 700,000 acres (283,000 hectares). Washington planted area fell slightly less than 2018 to 1.70 million acres (688,000 hectares).

Durum. Winter durum planting in the southwestern United States is estimated at 70,000 acres (28,300 hectares), up 9% from 2018 but 41% less than 2017. Arizona and California plant Desert Durum® from December through January for harvest May through July.


Durum production in the U.S. Northern Plains is down from 2018 with a reduction in overall quality due to historic late season rain and snow that also interrupted harvest. Due to the unusual conditions, the entire crop is not represented in this year’s data. Buyers should be extra vigilant and evaluate the importance of each factor for their end-use needs. Premium contract specifications will command higher prices, but good value can be obtained with diligent contract specifications. Ample carryover supplies from the excellent quality 2018 crop will be helpful in meeting traditional quality needs of buyers, but some parameters may still prove challenging.

That is a summary of northern durum crop quality from the upcoming U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) 2019 Crop Quality Report. Desert Durum® data is reported separately. The National Agricultural Statistics Service collected 166 samples from North Dakota and Montana and the Durum Quality Lab at North Dakota State University analyzed the samples. Funding for the annual survey come from USW member state wheat commissions and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. Complete 2019 crop quality data for all six U.S. wheat classes will soon be available online and at annual USW Crop Quality Seminars.

Weather and Harvest: Planting began in early May and ended the first week of June; crop emergence was slow. Mid-season rain boosted development and yield potential. Harvest began late, in mid-August, but with historic rainfall levels, less than 50% of the crop had been harvested by mid-September. The adverse weather continued into October, including periods of heavy snow, compromising quality on a large portion of the crop.

Regional production is estimated at 52 mil bu (1.4 MMT), down 20% from 2018. Final production will likely be lower than current estimates, as roughly 20% of the crop remained unharvested as of mid-October. With only 77% of expected samples collected and analyzed, and a higher than normal percentage of the crop moving directly into feed channels, this report does not represent the entire crop.

Wheat and Grade Data: The surveyed crop averages a U.S. No. 2 Amber Durum (AD) and 37% grades a U.S. No. 1 or 2 Hard Amber Durum (HAD), down from 86% a year ago. Average test weight of 61.1 lbs/bu (79.6 kg/hl) is similar to 2018 and above the 5-year average. Total kernel defects average of 3% is higher than 2018 and the 5-year average, likely due to elevated disease pressures and damage from the prolonged harvest.

The average vitreous kernel (HVAC) content is 64%, down sharply from 90% in 2018 due to harvest rains and localized lower protein levels. The average protein of 13.9% (12% mb), is equal to the 5-year average, but down from 2018. Distribution data shows that nearly 25% of the crop is above 90% HVAC and 38% is above 75% HVAC.

Excellent conditions during kernel development are reflected in the crop average thousand kernel weight (TKW) of 44 g and the percent of large kernels notably higher than last year and 5-year averages. The average falling number value is 345 sec compared to 425 in 2018 with 75% of the crop above 300 sec. Disease pressures were higher in 2019, with some areas impacted by Fusarium. The crop average DON is 0.6 ppm, up from 0.2 last year, but slightly below the 5-year average.

Semolina and Processing Data: Milling for the 2019 survey was performed on a Quadromat® Junior mill, limiting direct comparisons to the Buhler laboratory mill used previously. Semolina extraction is 57.5%, down sharply from 2018, likely attributed to the notable decline in vitreous kernels and shift in milling equipment. The milled product is showing a marked decline in ash levels, 0.6%, with just a slight increase in speck counts compared to 2018. Gluten index values are higher, at 67%, compared to 57% in 2018.

Semolina and cooked spaghetti evaluations show lower values compared to last year and the 5-year average. Semolina color values are lower for both color and brightness, and cooked pasta scores are also lower. Mixing properties reveal a stronger crop with an average mixogram of 6.4 compared to 5.3 in 2018. Cooked pasta evaluations show higher cooked weight compared to the 5-year average, but also higher cooking loss and less cooked firmness.


By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

On Sept. 30, USDA released its Small Grains Summary noting that 2019/20 U.S. wheat production increased to 53.3 million metric tons (MMT), up 4 percent from last year due to significant improvements in yield despite lower planted area. While this is still 2 percent below the 5-year average of 54.2 MMT, the production volume coupled with significant carry-in stocks ensure that the U.S. wheat remains the most reliable supply for 2019/20. Here is a look at 2019/20 U.S. wheat production by class.

USDA’s Small Grains Summary indicates U.S. wheat yields offset a reduced planted area for 2019/20.

Hard Red Winter (HRW). Last fall, U.S. farmers decreased HRW planting in the U.S. Southern and Central Plans due to extremely wet conditions which delayed the soybean harvest and in turn HRW planting. A slight uptick in planted area in Montana and South Dakota partially offset reductions in other states. Total U.S. HRW planted area fell 2 percent year-over-year to 22.7 million acres (9.19 million hectares), 15 percent below the 5-year average of 26.6 million acres (10.8 million hectares). Cool temperatures and favorable moisture during the growing season boosted HRW yields substantially year-over-year in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. In Kansas, the largest HRW producing state, a higher average yield offset lower planted area and production increased 22 percent over 2018/19 levels to 338 million bushels (9.17 MMT). USDA estimates total 2019/20 HRW production increased 26 percent over last year to 834 million bushels (22.7 MMT).

Hard Red Spring (HRS). Cold soil temperatures and excessive moisture in certain areas delayed HRS planting across much of the Northern Plains. USDA says U.S. farmers planted 12.0 million acres (4.86 million hectares), 6% below last year but slightly higher than the 5-year average of 11.8 million acres (4.78 million hectares). A cool summer boosted HRS yields in Montana and South Dakota. Heavy, persistent rain has severely delayed the 2019 HRS harvest. According to USDA, as of September 30, U.S. spring wheat harvest is only 90 percent complete compared to the 5-year average of 99 percent. USDA estimates 2019 HRS production will total 558 million bushels (15.2 MMT), 5 percent lower than 2018, but 8 percent higher than the 5-year average of 518 million bushels (14.1 MMT).

Soft Red Winter (SRW). Last fall, U.S. farmers planted 5.54 million acres (2.24 million hectares) of SRW, down 6 percent from the year prior and 18 percent from the 5-year average of 6.7 million acres (2.71 million hectares) due to low wheat prices compared to soybeans and delayed planting. Excessive moisture continued through the growing season and slowed harvest progress in many places. USDA reported SRW production totaled 239 million bushels (6.50 MMT), down 16 percent from last year and 31 percent below the 5-year average of 348 million bushels (9.46 MMT).

White Wheat (Soft White, Club and Hard White). U.S. white wheat planted area fell 4 percent below 2018/19 levels to 3.95 million acres (1.60 million hectares). Mild growing conditions and good soil moisture in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) supported above-average winter and spring wheat yields. The average white winter wheat yield in Oregon increased 1.0 bu/acre (.067 MT/hectare) over last year to 68.0 bu/acre (4.57 MT/hectare) in 2019. Slightly lower planted area and above-average yields kept U.S. white wheat production stable year-over-year at 273 million bushels (7.43 MMT) and 8 percent higher than the 5-year average of 252 million bushels (6.87 MMT).

Durum. Anticipating less-than break even prices, farmers planted less durum area this year. In its Small Grains 2019 Summary, USDA estimated 1.34 million acres (542,000 hectares) were planted to durum, down 35 percent from 2018/19 and 32 percent below the 5-year average of 2.0 million acres (664,000 hectares). USDA estimated total 2019/20 U.S. durum production at 57.3 million bushels (1.57 MMT), down 26 percent from last year. Cool, wet weather boosted yields in the U.S. Northern plains. Both Montana and North Dakota durum yield potential reached a record high in 2019. The country’s average durum yield also reached a record high of 44.8 bu/acre (3.01 MT/hectare), up 13 percent from last year. However, as with HRS, a significant portion of the northern durum crop has not yet been harvested. Desert Durum® production fell 46 percent year-over year to 5.67 million bushels (154,000 MT) due to sharply lower planted area in both Arizona and California.


By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

Despite challenging market factors, U.S. wheat exports for marketing year (MY) 2018/19, which ended May 31, totaled 25.8 million metric tons (MMT) (948 million bushels), in line with USDA’s adjusted export volume estimate. That is 9% ahead of MY 2017/18 and 1% ahead of the 5-year average of 25.5 MMT (937 million bushels). Commercial sales of all classes of wheat in MY 2018/19 exceeded 2017/18 levels due to abundant exportable supplies, excellent harvest qualities, competitive export prices and sustained service from U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) representatives supported by its state commissions and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service programs. This offset the bearish factors including a strong U.S. dollar, competitor’s advantages, uncertainty about U.S. trade policies and difficult inland transportation logistics.

Hard Red Winter. USDA reported hard red winter (HRW) 2018/19 sales totaled 9.40 MMT (345 million bushels), 1% above 2017/18 and 1% above the 5-year average of 9.30 MMT (342 million bushels). Customers took advantage of the highest quality HRW crop in several years at attractive export prices compared to 2017/18. Out of the Gulf, between Jan. 1 and May 31, 2019, the average export price of U.S. HRW 12.0 protein (12% moisture basis) cost $227/metric ton (MT) compared to $257/MT over the same period in 2018. Sales to Mexico and Nigeria were up 6% and 36% respectively, while sales to Japan were down 6%. Sales to Mexico totaled 2.15 MMT (79.0 million bushels), 44% above the 5-year average of 1.49 MMT (55.0 million bushels), once again making Mexico the top HRW buyer. Commercial sales to Iraq, now the fourth-largest consumer of U.S. HRW, were in line with 2017/18 levels at 674,000 metric tons (MT) (24.7 million bushels).

Soft Red Winter. 2018/19 soft red winter (SRW) sales increased 33% year-over-year to 3.33 MMT (123 million bushels), still 14% below the 5-year average of 3.92 MMT (144 million bushels) despite difficult inland transportation logistical issues due to major flooding on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The 2018/19 SRW crop boasted higher protein levels and good extensibility, making it a valuable blending ingredient for cookies and cakes. A steady decline in SRW futures prices between mid-December 2018 and mid-May 2019 encouraged strong commercial sales to top SRW-importing regions. Export sales to three of the top five SRW purchasers increased or remained steady compared to 2017/18. Sales to Mexico, the top importer of U.S. SRW, increased 25% over last year to 917,000 MT (33.6 million bushels) and sales to Peru, the fifth-largest importer of U.S. SRW, increased 13% over last year to 175,000 MT (6.46 million bushels). Export sales to Nigeria held strong at 272,000 MT (9.96 million bushels).

Hard Red Spring. By the end of MY 2018/19, hard red spring (HRS) export sales totaled 7.15 MMT (263 million bushels), 16% ahead of last year’s pace, despite a 94% decrease in commercial sales to China, formerly the fourth-largest importer of U.S. HRS. A 60% year-over-year increase in HRS production, at 16.0 MMT (588 million bushels), higher ending stocks, high protein content and competitive export prices all supported export sales. Gulf exports of HRS 14.0 protein between Jan. 1 and May 31, 2019, cost, on average, $263/MT compared to $305/MT over the same period in 2018. Seven of the country’s top ten HRS-importing partners increased commercial sales year over year. Commercial sales to the Philippines, the top importer of U.S. HRS, jumped to 1.85 MMT (68.0 million bushels) in 2018/19, 39% ahead of last year and 38% ahead of the 5-year average of 1.34 MMT (49.2 million bushels).

White wheat. Total commercial sales of soft white (SW) and hard white (HW) wheat climbed to 5.45 MMT (200 million bushels) in 2018/19, which includes about 165,000 MT of HW sales to Nigeria. That is slightly ahead of last year’s pace and 21% ahead of the 5-year average of 4.51 MMT (166 million bushels) due to increased production, increased exportable supplies and below-average protein levels compared to years prior. Sales to the Philippines and Japan, the top two importers of U.S. SW, respectively, increased 13% and 7% over 2017/18 levels. The Philippines purchased 1.32 MMT (48.9 million bushels) of SW compared to 1.17 MMT (43.0 million bushels) in 2017/18. White wheat sales to Japan increased to 889,000 MT (32.7 million bushels) compared to 829,000 MT (30.4 million bushels) in 2017/18.

Durum. USDA reported 2018/19 durum sales at 504,000 MT (19.8 million bushels), up 24% from the year prior, but 12% below the 5-year average of 573,000 MT (21.0 million bushels). Increased production, high protein content, excellent kernel characteristics and competitive prices throughout the marketing year all supported northern durum export levels. Increased sales to four of the five top markets for U.S. durum boosted export figures. The European Union (EU) purchased 290,000 MT (10.7 million bushels) of U.S. durum in 2018/19, up 71% year-over-year following a drought that cut production in many EU countries.