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.


In April, the results of a study by a consortium of researchers from seven countries was published in “Nature Genetics” describing the sequence of the entire genome of an Italian durum wheat variety called “Svevo.” Durum breeders suggest this is an important finding that will help speed development of new, improved varieties of the crop that provides semolina for high quality pasta products.

“We can now examine the genes, their order and structure to assemble a blueprint that provides an opportunity to understand how the genes work and communicate with one another,” said University of Saskatchewan wheat breeder Dr. Curtis Pozniak in a statement from the consortium. “With this blueprint, we can now work quickly to identify genes that are responsible for the traits we select for in our breeding programs such as yield, disease resistance, and nutritional properties.”

Calling the work ground-breaking, another spokesperson for the consortium said it “will lead to new standards for durum breeding … paving the way for production of durum wheat varieties better adapted to climate challenges, with higher yields, enhanced nutritional quality and improved sustainability.”

“This is good news for durum breeders,” said Dr. Elias Elias, Distinguished Professor, J. F. Carter Durum Wheat Breeding/Genetics, with the Plant Sciences department of North Dakota State University (NDSU). “We do know much about the positive traits we want to express. Now, with the complete genome map, we will be able to identify the specific gene or markers for the genes responsible for the traits in a much more precise way.”

For example, the team that decoded the genome said they had discovered the gene that causes the durum plant to take up cadmium, an undesirable trait. Dr. Elias said NDSU has already introduced durum varieties with low cadmium uptake. With the specific gene identified, breeders can more quickly select for varieties without the undesirable trait for conventional breeding methods or, perhaps in the future, precisely alter an undesirable function through gene editing to bring improved varieties to farmers more quickly.

USDA, which also administers export market development programs through its Foreign Agricultural Service, contributed some funding for the genome study. More information is available online at

Scientists have recently mapped the complex, polyploid genome of hard amber durum, grown in the northern U.S. Plains and Desert Durum® grown in the desert Southwest, produces semolina for premium pasta products, couscous and semolina bread. This class evolved from wild emmer wheat and was established as a prominent crop up to 2,000 years ago.



By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

(Revised April 5, 2019)

According to the March 29 USDA Prospective Plantings report, U.S. total spring-planted wheat area will fall to an estimated 14.2 million acres (5.75 million hectares), 7% below 2018/19, if realized. The estimate includes 12.4 million acres of hard red spring (HRS), down 2% from last year, if realized. USDA expects U.S. durum planted area to total 1.42 million acres (575,000 hectares), 25% below 2018/19 and 30% below the 5-year average. Farmers in the top four spring wheat producing states of North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, and Minnesota are expected to decrease total spring wheat planted area year over year on price and weather concerns.

USDA expects a 150,000 acre (61,000 hectare) increase in North Dakota HRS area from 2018 to 6.7 million acres (2.71 million hectares), a 7% increase over the 5-year average, if realized. At the same time, USDA expects the state to decrease its planted durum area by 32% from last year. Currently, HRS commands a premium over durum at local elevators, prompting the decline in North Dakota’s durum planted area from 1.10 million acres (445,000 hectares) in 2018 to 750,000 acres (304,000 hectares) in 2019. Farmer frustration is evident in recent planting trends. In 2019, 11% of North Dakota spring wheat acres will go to durum compared to 23% in 2017.

Dr. Frayne Olson, crop economist and marketing specialist at North Dakota State University, told U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) the increase in HRS over durum planted area in the past few years is driven by the inversion in cash premiums for both classes.

“Four years ago, in 2015, farmers received $1.90 per bushel more for durum than HRS. And three years ago, in 2016, the durum premium over HRS was $1.20 per bushel,” Dr. Olson said. “Now, HRS commands a premium of between $0.12 per bushel to $0.41 per bushel premium over the top durum grade.”

USDA forecast Montana spring wheat planted area at 2.60 million acres (1.05 million hectares), down 10% from 2018/19. According to Cassidy Marn, marketing program manager with the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, farmers are on track to begin planting by the third week in April, barring an unforeseen weather event, but are seeking more profitable alternatives to spring wheat. However, Marn added, more profitable choices are difficult to find because “the pulse market isn’t strong, and neither is the market for durum.” Mike Krueger, an independent market analyst based in North Dakota, suggests Montana farmers are more likely to leave would-be spring wheat acres fallow than to plant alternative crops like dry peas or barley.

Minnesota HRS planted area is expected to decrease 5% from 2018/19 levels to 1.53 million acres (62,000 hectares). Krueger believes the state’s final area planted to HRS in 2019 will fall below the USDA’s estimate due to price and weather concerns.

“In the fall, there was a lot of enthusiasm for HRS because the initial 2019 CRC insurance price for spring wheat is $5.77.  That compares to $6.31 a year ago,” Krueger said.

He believes Minnesota farmers will convert more 2019 spring wheat acres to soybeans because, despite trade disputes with China, the domestic soybean market is firmer on average than the markets for corn and wheat. Soybeans may be the most viable alternative if record precipitation keeps Minnesota farmers out of the fields for the next 20 to 30 days, forcing them out of the ideal spring wheat planting window.

Competitive Soybeans. Comparing average and recent cash prices, relative stability can offer an incentive for farmers in North Dakota and Minnesota to plant more soybeans than spring wheat. This year, wet conditions could also favor more soybean planting. 


South Dakota 2019/20 HRS planted area is forecast at 1.02 million acres (41,000 hectares), down 3% from last year. Reid Christopherson, executive director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission, said the USDA’s estimate may be a little optimistic given current weather and price conditions in the state. In the fall, producers were enthusiastic about converting harvested soybean acres to winter wheat, before extremely wet conditions delayed harvest and winter planting. Then, he said, hope for strong wheat markets persisted into the spring until the “bomb cyclone” hit the state, leaving many would be HRS acres buried under 30 to 43 cm. of snow. Now, he expects, spring wheat planting in South Dakota to be delayed until the third or fourth week in April. Christopherson said, “Late planting and low market prices will prompt producers to plant more row crops in 2019 than spring wheat, despite earlier intentions.”

On April 1, USDA also updated the country’s winter wheat planted area from the February forecast. Total U.S. winter wheat area is now expected to hit 31.5 million acres (12.8 million hectares), up 200,000 acres (81,000 hectares) from the February forecast, but still 3% below the planted area for 2018/19 harvest. USDA now forecasts HRW planted area at 22.4 million acres (9.07 million hectares), up slightly from the previous projection, but still 3% below the year prior and 10% below the 5-year average on delayed planting. Soft red winter (SRW) planted area for 2019 harvest decreased from the previous estimate to 5.55 million acres (2.25 million hectares), 5% below 2018/19 planted area. The first USDA Crop Progress report of 2019, released April 1, indicated 56% of the country’s winter wheat to be in good to excellent condition.

USDA expects white wheat acres, planted in both winter and spring, to fall to 3.9 million acres (1.57 million hectares) for 2019/20, down 5% from 2018/19 and the 5-year average of 4.1 million acres (1.66 million hectares). The U.S. Drought Monitor shows adequate moisture for wheat-growing regions clustered in northeastern Oregon, southeastern Washington and north-central Idaho. However, central Washington and Oregon are experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions. Still, USDA reported that the majority of the white wheat crop in those three states is in good to excellent condition.

Planted area reductions for all classes bring the total wheat planted area for 2019 harvest down to 45.8 million acres (18.5 million hectares), 4% below 2018 and 7% below the 5-year average, making this year’s total wheat planted area the lowest since USDA records began in 1919.


By Erica Oakley, USW Director of Programs

As a key part of its commitment to transparency, each year U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) produces an annual Crop Quality Report that includes grade, flour and baking data for all six U.S. wheat classes. The report is compiled from sample testing and analysis conducted during and after harvest by our partner laboratories. The report provides essential, objective information to help buyers get the wheat they need at the best value possible.

The 2018 USW Crop Quality Report is now available for download in English, Spanish, French and Italian, and will be available in Chinese and Arabic 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.

USW’s annual Crop Quality Seminars are already underway and will continue over the next month around the world. USW invites its overseas customers, including buyers, millers and processors, to these seminars led by USW staff, U.S. wheat farmers, state wheat commission staff and educational partner organizations. The seminars dive into grade factors, protein levels, flour extraction rates, dough stability, baking loaf volume, noodle color and texture and more for all six U.S. wheat classes, and are tailored to focus on the needs and trends in each regional market.

In 2018, USW is projected to host 41 seminars in 28 countries.

Customers have previously shared that they use the report throughout the year as a reference manual and to guide them through purchases and future planning. The seminars provide a first look at the overall crop and a deep dive into the data and how to use it. Customers will often use the seminars and report as educational training for new employees.

The reports and seminars have been a traditional part of USW’s strategy since 1959, growing to become its single largest marketing activity.