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It is planting season for U.S. winter wheat growers. Conditions and timing vary by region, but a lot of the 2023 hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW) and even fall-seeded soft white (SW) area has already been seeded.

Long before farmers select and clean seed from their last crop or purchase certified seed wheat, researchers and breeders have developed new wheat varieties that meet the highest standards of yield and quality across a wide range of end uses at home and across the world.

Chart showing seasonal U.S. winter wheat and spring wheat planting and harvesting schedule.

U.S. Winter Wheat Planting starts in September and can last into early November depending on conditions. Winter wheat must experience a period of significant cold days to signal reproductive growth, a process called vernalization.

In a greenhouse at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center in Manhattan, Kansas State University wheat breeder Dr. Allen Fritz talked about starting the process of creating wheat varieties.

Looking Back to the Future

“There are facilities like this around the country where people are working to improve varieties for those different regions,” he said. “They are working on specific market classes have different functionalities to be able to make almost any kind of wheat food product.”

Dr. Fritz added that to do that work, breeders are finding new ways to use historic wheat genetics to improve wheat quality and production.

“In some projects, we are reaching back into wild relatives and bringing some of those characteristics to bring healthy, nutritious food to the table and I think [breeders] have a passion to bring that forward.”

Naturally Stronger Gluten

At Oklahoma State University, Wheat Genetics Chair Brett Carver and his colleagues are developing new hard red winter wheat varieties that have better gluten strength to produce higher quality bread products while keeping yields and disease resistance high. With naturally developed dough strength, such new varieties may not need additional gluten, adding value to the U.S. wheat and flour produced from it.

“Simply stated, a truly unique combination of wheat quality in a high-performance wheat variety provides value-capturing opportunities to farmers, millers and bakers,” Dr. Carver recently told the High Plains Journal. “It is important that the genetics are maintained and delivered throughout the supply chain in its purest form. Then consumers will see value through a cleaner label on various wheat food products.”

Planting Stories

Image from inside a tractor of a dry Montana field in which Denise Conover is seeding winter wheat

This is Denise Conover’s “office” as she seeded hard red winter wheat on her family farm near Broadview, Montana, late in September 2022.

After years of testing and perfecting U.S. winter wheat seeds, planting looks different for every family farm depending on the region, the soil, the wheat class. In the arid conditions in north-central Oregon, for example, each field lies fallow for a year to improve moisture and add organic matter to the soil.

“Then in the fall, at the end of September to the first part of October, we start seeding,” said Logan Padget, a SW wheat grower in Grass Valley, Ore. “We put down our seed and fertilizer together in one pass, one right underneath the other so as soon as that seed starts to grow, it puts roots down, finds the fertilizer and just takes off.”

Near Okarche, Okla., HRW grower and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Secretary-Treasurer Michael Peters is seeing very dry conditions for planting. When the time is right, Peters said everything will be done to start the new crop.

Doing What It Takes

“We will start as early as we can in the morning, go late into night,” he said. “Then we may go home at night, and we are loading seed wheat for the next day or adjusting the planter, just to get it into the ground.”

Kyler Millershaski, a young farmer from Lakin, Kan., is fully committed to the work and challenge of growing another hard white and hard red winter wheat crop.

“I would say there is certainly a responsibility and a weight that you feel to not only provide a high-quality product, but enough of it to feed the world. That is why we are really selective in our varieties and make sure the crop has the right fertilizer and nutrients to grow and perform well. That way,” he said with a smile, “we can say we have the best wheat in the world – so buy from us.”

 

 

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A dramatic increase in demand for oilseeds could impact U.S. wheat production in coming years, with significantly more acres expected to be planted in soybeans destined for new and expanded crushing facilities.

Between 20 million and 25 million additional acres of soybeans will be needed to meet requirements of the renewable diesel industry, some analysts are predicting.

At the same time, global demand for wheat is also expected to rise, setting up dynamic competition for acreage in states where both crops are grown. For the U.S. wheat industry, the situation creates important questions: How much wheat acreage could potentially be lost to soybeans? Will lost acres impact the U.S.’ standing as the world’s most dependable wheat supplier? Can wheat and soybeans co-exist in a competitive environment?

This chart shows acreage planted in soybeans and wheat in 2022 in the country's top 10 soybean states, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

This chart shows total acreage planted in soybeans and total acreage planted in wheat in the country’s top 10 soybean states in 2022, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Where possible, farmers may adapt and double-crop more wheat and soybeans to maintain supplies of both crops. It is already a common practice in top soybean states like Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, where soft red winter wheat is the dominant class. But in soybean states that produce hard red winter and hard red spring wheat – Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota, for example – allotting acreage is more complicated due to average rainfall and shorter growing seasons.

The ultimate question is if U.S. farmers will be able to meet the demand for both wheat and soybeans by doing what they have always done – figure out a way to do more with less.

Many Options, Limited Acres

Mike Krueger, a grain industry consultant with Lida Communications, put a spotlight on the emerging “competition for acreage” during last month’s U.S. Wheat Associates World Staff Conference.

While describing volatility in global wheat and grain markets due uncertain market conditions, Krueger noted a more predictable factor that will affect markets and decisions made by U.S farmers.

“Renewable diesel is projected to increase eight-fold by 2030 and significant investments of more than $2 billion are being put into new and expanded soybean processing plants in the U.S. right now,” Krueger explained. “The U.S. soybean crush will expand by 10%, or more. We are talking vast numbers, and while sunflower and canola should be big beneficiaries of renewable diesel, soybeans are certainly going to be in even higher demand.”

A boost of 20 million acres would catapult soybean and go a long way toward meeting the projected oilseeds demand.

But at what cost?

The U.S. has consistently ranked as one of the top five wheat producing countries in the world and one of the top three wheat exporting countries. Would a major shift in acreage affect U.S. production, thus its place as a supplier?

“We must remember there’s also a global demand for wheat, as well as corn, and we have to consider ongoing drought and weather patterns, not to mention political conflicts that are impacting grain production and supplies all over the world,” Krueger said. “All of this, all the things going on that affect global trade, will put major emphasis on overall crop production in the U.S. and the entire Northern Hemisphere. To be honest, no crop can afford to give up or lose acres.”

Can Double-cropping Help?

Higher prices caused by global demand for wheat and soybeans appears to be motivating more farmers in the Midwest to consider seeding soft red winter wheat in the fall and soybeans in the same field following wheat harvest.

About 40% of producers responding to a Purdue University Ag Economy Barometer survey in June indicated they have utilized a wheat and soybean double-crop rotation in the past. About 28% of those producers planned to increase the amount of cropland devoted to this rotation by seeding more wheat this fall followed by soybean plantings on the same acres in spring 2023.

Some analysts have predicted that renewable diesel demand in coming years will require the planting of at least 20 million additional acres of soybeans. This chart from USDA shows soybean acreage over the past decade.

Some analysts have predicted that renewable diesel demand in coming years will require the planting of at least 20 million additional acres of soybeans. This chart from USDA shows soybean acreage and harvest over the past decade.

Ultimately, the biggest factor behind whether farmers begin growing an extra crop of wheat is what price they can get for the crop.

“The shift toward increasing soft red winter wheat acreage is likely the result of the expected profitability improvement of the wheat and double-crop soybean rotation,” James Mintert and Michael Langemeier, authors of the Purdue survey, noted.

A move by the federal government earlier this year to increase the number of counties eligible for double-cropping insurance was a move aimed at boosting U.S. production of wheat and soybeans by reducing the risk for farmers who decide to take the double-crop route.

Producers are well-aware that there are drawbacks to double-cropping wheat and soybeans.

“Compared to single-crop soybeans, double-crop soybeans have a shorter growing season due to the delay in planting until the wheat is harvested, which often result in reduced yields,” said Scott Gerlt, Chief Economist for the American Soybean Association (ASA). “Despite this drawback, double-cropping does allow increased production.”

Wheat Demand to Grow

Despite questions about acreage and production, U.S. wheat continues to be in demand by international customers because of its consistent quality and reliability.

Krueger expects the demand will continue to expand.

“A primary reason is that global wheat supplies are likely to shrink due to a renewed focus on soybeans, and to a lesser extent, corn,” Krueger said. “Another factor favoring U.S. producers involves shipping and logistics limitations that hamper competing wheat-growing countries, including Russia and Ukraine.”

Effects from a third consecutive La Nina would further pressure global supplies.

“These things will undoubtedly lead to more export demand for wheat,” Krueger said. “Can the U.S. meet the demand? That is the puzzle that’s still being put together. Farmers make decisions every single planting season. They only have so many acres to work with.”

 

 

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In 2022, U.S. wheat farmers continued a now three-year run producing excellent quality soft red winter (SRW) wheat for the world’s weak gluten wheat buyers and food processors.

U.S. SRW is grown over a wide area mainly east of the Mississippi River. The production region experienced generally good growing conditions in the 2022 crop year. A total of 230 samples from elevators in 18 reporting areas across 11 states accounting for an estimated 68% of total U.S. SRW production, were collected and analyzed by Great Plains Analytical Laboratory, Kansas City, Mo. The results were weighted by the estimated production for each reporting area and combined into “Composite Average,” “East Coast” and “Gulf Port” values.

Illustration shows states in which soft red winter wheat samples were drawn and the percentage of total SRW the samples represent

Hitting Quality Targets

The 2022 SRW crop is very sound with high test weight and falling number values, lower moisture, good milling characteristics, and is relatively free of DON. Processors will find a versatile crop with good qualities for cookies, cakes and crackers. With higher protein and good extensibility, the crop should also be valuable in blending for baking applications.

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

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has posted more information on the Soft Red Winter Wheat 2022 Quality Survey on its website here.

The Season in Review

Planting started at a normal pace in mid-September 2021 and progress was similar to the 5-year average. USDA estimates SRW seeded area for the 2022 harvest at 2.78 million hectares, up from 2.67 million hectares seeded for the 2021 harvest and above the 5-year average.

As the crop developed, there was plentiful moisture through winter and spring with only Maryland seeing lower soil moisture. Overall, timely mild temperatures and rainfall benefited critical kernel development.

Harvest began slowly in late-May but picked up pace in mid-June with hotter temperatures and dry conditions. By July, much of the growing region experienced heat, humidity and above average rainfall with pockets of favorable harvest weather.

2022 SRW production is estimated to be 10.4 million metric tons (MMT), up from 9.8 MMT in 2021 and above the 5-year average of 8.3 MMT.

Close up image of soft red winter wheat ready for harvest on an Ohio farm

Excellent Crop. Soft red winter wheat was ready for harvest in June 2022 on the Bowsher family farm near Waynesville, Ohio. Across the production region, protein, test weight, kernel characteristics and other functional factors were very good in 2022.

2022 Crop Highlights

  • The overall grade sample average for the 2022 SRW harvest survey is U.S. No. 1 SRW; the Gulf average is U.S. No. 1 SRW, and East Coast is U.S. No. 2.
  • Test Weight averages trended higher and indicate a sound crop with a Composite average of 60.1 lb/bu (79.1 kg/hl), a Gulf average of 60.3 lb/bu (79.3 kg/hl) and East Coast average at 59.7 lb/bu (78.5 kg/hl).
  • 1000 Kernel Weight, Kernel Diameter and Wheat Protein values reflect a relatively consistent crop.
  • Single Kernel values also reflect a consistent crop. For the East Coast, kernels are softer, heavier and larger than last year but harder and smaller than the 5-year average. For the Gulf, kernels are slightly softer, lighter and smaller than last year, but harder than the 5-year average.
  • Wheat Protein content demonstrates a consistent crop. The Composite average of 9.6% (12% mb) and East Coast average of 10.1% are higher than 2021 and 5-year averages. The Gulf average of 9.4% is slightly higher than 2021 but below the 5-year average.
  • Falling Number trended well above average, indicating this is a sound crop with very little sprout damage. Composite (327 sec), East Coast (336 sec) and Gulf (325 sec) are all above 2021 and 5-year averages.
  • Vomitoxin (DON) averages are well below the USDA threshold of 2.0 ppm and indicate that the sampled crop is relatively free of DON: Composite (0.7 ppm), Gulf (0.8 ppm) and East Coast (0.4 ppm).
  • Laboratory Mill Flour Extraction for Composite (66.4%), East Coast (66.6%) and Gulf (66.4%) are all higher than 2021 but below the 5-year averages. The extraction rate from a laboratory mill is not optimized and will always be significantly lower than the rate obtained from a commercial mill.
  • Amylograph data indicates enhanced starch characteristics that are well suited for batter-based products. The 2022 averages for Composite (666 BU), East Coast (574 BU) and Gulf (687 BU) reinforce the high falling numbers and indicate very low levels of amylase activity.
  • Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) values generally indicate excellent quality for cookies and crackers. Sucrose values indicate cookies and crackers will benefit from reduced baking time.
  • Dough Properties suggest that this crop is weaker than the 5-year average and is typical for SRW.
  • Alveograph data indicate a crop that is more extensible, less resistant than last year and is suitable for blending bread-type products. P values: Composite (36 mm), East Coast (41 mm) and Gulf (35 mm); L values: Composite (82 mm), East Coast (91 mm) and Gulf (80 mm).
  • Average Loaf Volumes are higher than last year and indicate this crop is excellent for blending: Composite (624 cc), East Coast (610 cc) and Gulf (627 cc).
  • The Cookie Spread Ratios for Composite (10.7), East Coast (10.6) and Gulf Ports (10.7) are all similar to last year and higher than the 5-year averages, indicating good spreadability.

The latest 2022 USW Harvest Report on all U.S. wheat classes is posted here. Wheat Letter will share final crop quality reports as they are available, and reports will be posted here.

 

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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 soft red winter wheat brings to the market.


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

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

Milling Advantages

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

Baking Advantages

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

Sourcing Opportunities

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

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

U.S. Wheat Advantages

As we highlight each specific class in this series, let us not forget the advantages that all U.S. wheat classes bring to the market. First, and perhaps the most important, is consistency in quality and supply. Although each new crop year brings different challenges and opportunities, U.S. wheat is always available to the global market. Second, U.S. wheat delivers variety. Wheat is a raw material manufactured into a bakery ingredient: flour. The flour made from each unique class of U.S. wheat brings value to the market through unique quality characteristics that make a variety of baked goods and noodles. Further, blending flours from one or more types of wheat is an important component for customers to understand as part of optimizing flour performance at 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
Durum

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Last week, USDA released three reports giving some indication of what may be ahead for the 2022 global wheat market. Those USDA reports were the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, the quarterly Grain Stocks report, and the annual Winter Wheat Seedings report.

Considering all three reports, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) notes that the latest WASDE report showed few unexpected changes to the worldwide balance sheet of wheat. Some upward revisions were made in Argentina and the EU. Still, the reports forecast global consumption far higher than production. The Grain Stocks report reflected the significant drop in total 2021/22 U.S. wheat production. Predictably, U.S. farmers seeded more winter wheat for a second year in a row.

In fact, after winter wheat plantings fell to their lowest level in more than a century in 2020/21, U.S. winter wheat seeded area for marketing year 2022/23 has increased for the second year in a row, up 2% from 2021 and 13% compared to 2020 reported the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in their annual Winter Wheat Seedings report released Jan. 12, 2022. Winter wheat seeded acres are the most they have been since 2016/17.

Bar graph showing annual U.S. winter wheat seeded area indicates an increase over the past two years to illustrate USDA Reports story.

According to recent USDA reports, U.S. farmers are responding to increased global demand and lower U.S. stocks by seeding more winter wheat in 2022.

The Winter Wheat Seedings report showed farmers planted 23.8 million acres (9.6 million hectares) of hard red winter (HRW). This report is up 1% from 2021, led by Kansas, up 3%, and Texas, up 2%. Notable drops in seeded area came in Colorado, down 2%, and New Mexico down 11%.

The quarterly USDA Grain Stocks report confirmed all U.S. wheat in storage, both on and off farm, was down 18% compared to a year ago, while disappearance was down 16% compared to the year before. Analysts expect ending stocks for the 2021/22 marketing year to be the smallest since 2013/14 at 628 million bushels (17.09/MMT).

Price Signals

Increased cash price this year has no doubt played a role in farmer decisions to seed more HRW acres. Kansas Wheat Commission CEO Justin Gilpin noted higher HRW prices as one reason for a second consecutive year of higher wheat plantings. Year-over-year prices for HRW at 12% protein (12% moisture basis) are up 24%.

Soft red winter (SRW) farmers have also taken advantage of strong pricing and increased export demand to plant more SRW acres. Estimates of SRW for the 2022/23 marketing year are 7.07 million acres (2.86 million hectares), 6% higher than last year. Increased acres are largest in Missouri, up 38%, North Carolina is up 31% and Ohio up 21%. USDA reported decreases in Maryland, down 16%, and Michigan, down 23%. The 2021/22 SRW export pace is 50% ahead of last year’s pace year-to-date.

Estimated white winter wheat (soft white and hard white) are 3.56 million acres (1.44 million hectares). This estimate is up 2% from 2021.

Desert Durum® seeded area in California and Arizona of 90,000 acres (36,421 hectares) is up 15% compared to last year and 20% compared to 2020.

Drought Lingers in the Plains

In the monthly “Wheat Outlook” report published by the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the USDA, analysts reported that major HRW producing states, mostly concentrated in the Plains states, saw conditions for winter wheat degrade since November but noted that spring conditions are more influential on production numbers. Kansas’s Gilpin noted “attention has turned to expanding drought ratings across HRW regions and potentially yield and production impacts. Dry conditions and higher input costs both are concerns.”

NOAA map shows where U.S. wheat production areas overlap with drought conditions to supplement USDA reports article.

By Michael Anderson, USW Market Analyst

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As they did in 2020, U.S. wheat farmers have produced an excellent 2021 soft red winter wheat crop for the world’s weak gluten wheat buyers and food processors.

Analysis of 263 samples from elevators in 18 reporting areas across 11 states that account for an estimated 73% of total U.S. SRW production indicates the crop delivers very good performance characteristics. This year’s composite characteristics demonstrate uniformly excellent kernel characteristics, benefited by timely mild temperatures and rainfall.

Other quality factors include less extensibility than in 2020 and the 5-year average, and excellent quality for cookies and crackers. There were pockets of higher enzymatic activity resulting in lower falling numbers and higher damaged starch from the East Coast and isolated portions of the Gulf Ports region, but overall, buyers should be extremely happy with the quality of the entire 2021 SRW crop. Buyers are encouraged to review their quality specifications to ensure that purchases meet their expectations.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has posted the full Soft Red Winter Wheat 2021 Quality Survey on its website here.

Planting and Harvest

USDA estimates the 2021 soft red winter wheat crop seeded area at 6.59 million acres (2.67 million hectares), up from 5.63 million acres (2.28 million hectares) seeded for the 2020 harvest and up from the five-year average. Good growing conditions were overall can be seen in the excellent quality of this crop. Although harvest started slowly with cool, wet conditions, a warm-up helped growers finish in line with the 5-year average. U.S. soft red winter (SRW) wheat production, estimated at 362 million bushels or 9.85 million metric tons (MMT), a 37% increase over 2020 and a 28% increase over the 5-year average.2021 map of soft red winter wheat production and sampling.

Samples were collected and analyzed by Great Plains Analytical Laboratory, Kansas City, Mo. The results were weighted by the estimated production for each reporting area and combined into “Composite Average,” “East Coast” and “Gulf Port” values.

2021 Crop Highlights

  • Grade – the overall average for the 2021 SRW harvest survey is U.S. No. 2 SRW.
  • Test Weight averages are indicative of sound wheat and a uniform crop with Composite 59.7 lb/bu (78.6 kg/hl), Gulf average 60.0 lb/bu (79.8 kg/hl), and East Coast 58.8 lb/bu (77.4 kg/hl).
  • 1000 Kernel Weight, Kernel Diameter and Wheat Protein values reflect a relatively uniform crop.
  • Wheat Protein content demonstrates a uniform crop. The Composite average of 9.3% (12% mb) and Gulf Ports average of 9.2% are lower than the 5-year averages. The East Coast average of 9.5% is slightly higher than 2020 but below the 5-year average.
  • Wheat Falling Number trended lower this year due to localized rainfall during harvest with Composite (297 sec), East Coast (257 sec) and Gulf Ports (307 sec) all below 2020 and 5-year averages. USW Regional Technical Director Peter Lloyd said while low falling number values are not eliminated from the survey, “the very few problem areas resulting from late rains will most likely never come to market.” Buyers will have no problems when they use a minimum 250 second falling number in their specifications.
  • Vomitoxin (DON) averages are well below the USDA threshold of 2.0 ppm with Composite at 0.8 ppm, Gulf Ports 0.9 ppm and East Coast 0.2 ppm. “DON levels are among the lowest we have seen in some time,” Lloyd said.
  • Laboratory Mill Flour Extraction for Composite (65.9%), East Coast (65.4%) and Gulf Ports (66.1%) are below 2020 and the 5-year averages but still indicate a good milling crop.
  • Damaged Starch values are slightly higher this year and can be attributed to higher enzymatic activity in isolated areas.
  • Amylograph averages indicate relatively high levels of amylase activity in portions of the crop with low falling numbers. Averages for Composite (440 BU), East Coast (290 BU) and Gulf (477 BU) are lower than last year and 5-year averages.
  • Solvent Retention capacity values generally indicate excellent quality for cookies and crackers. Lactic Acid values are above 100 and below 120, indicating excellent quality for crackers
  • Dough Properties suggest that this crop has similar protein qualities to last year but weaker than the 5-year average.
  • Alveograph L averages for Composite, East Coast and Gulf are 56 mm, significantly lower than 2020 and 5-year average values and indicate low extensibility.
  • Average Loaf Volumes are lower than last year and 5-year averages.
  • The Cookie Spread Ratios for Composite (10.6), East Coast (10.8) and Gulf (10.5) are all higher than last year and 5-year averages, indicating good spreadability.

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

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

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While drought has dominated the headlines about U.S. wheat, the outlook for the 2021 soft red winter (SRW) wheat crop is a more positive story. Farmers growing this weak gluten class in the eastern third of the United States enjoyed timely rainfall and mild temperatures as the crop developed, leading to good yield potential and at least average quality so far.

The July 6 Crop Progress report published weekly by the National Agricultural Statistics Service indicated the percentage of SRW crops rated in good to excellent condition were 50% in Arkansas, 49% in Missouri, 74% in Illinois, 78% in Indiana and 74% in Ohio.

Big Crop Ahead

Many of the SRW producing states saw planted area increase for the 2021 crop from 5.63 million acres in 2020 to 6.59 million acres according to USDA’s June 30, 2021, Acreage Report.  With yield potential up, too, the 2021 SRW crop is expected to be significantly bigger. At the spring conference of the North American Millers’ Association, millers estimated SRW wheat production for 2021 to increase 25% compared to 2020, to 332.7 million bushels (9.05 MMT). The most recent crop production estimates, published by the USDA in June, forecast SRW bushels to be 335.4 million. Either way, there will be plenty of high-quality SRW available.

2021 soft red winter wheat crop image

Grown in the eastern third of the United States and shipped via Gulf, Atlantic, and Great Lakes ports, soft red winter (SRW) wheat is a high-yielding wheat with low protein, soft endosperm, red bran, and weak gluten. It is used in pastries, cakes, cookies, crackers, pretzels, flatbreads and for blending flours.

The 2021 SRW harvest is well underway. Even with recent rains slowing progress, the July 2 USW Harvest Report showed 57% of the growing region has completed harvest. The report, which will be updated July 9, included grade and non-grade data from analysis of 135 SRW harvest samples from the southern and southeastern states. That data showed an improvement in grade from to U.S. No. 2 week-over-week. Both test weight (TW) and falling number (FN) increased this week compared to last. USW’s goal is to test a total of 300 samples for its 2021 SRW Crop Quality Report.

Better Quality than Expected

Jason Scott, 2016/17 USW Chairman and a Maryland SRW wheat farmer, just completed his harvest and said that the crop was “way better than expected despite a very wet fall.” He added that disease concerns are minimal including limited vomitoxin levels. He said conditions during mid-spring at flowering were dry, which helped hold back pressure from the fusarium (scab) disease that causes vomitoxin.

The image shows a crop and sprayer to illustrate the 2021 soft red winter wheat crop.

A field of soft red winter wheat growing toward maturity on Jason Scott’s farm in Maryland. Scott’s 2021 soft red winter wheat crop produced higher yields and better quality than he expected.

Shawn Branstetter, a SRW wheat trader with The Andersons, noted that SRW quality is good overall in the Mid-Atlantic region, and prospects are expected to stay good.

Brad Reynolds, Communication Director for the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program (OSGMP), said that with increased production and good quality, overseas customers are interested in the Ohio SRW crop. To date, total SRW exports are up 75% in the 2021/22 marketing year that began June 1 compared to 2020/21. Exports to Mexico, a leading importer of SRW from the U.S., are up 129% compared to the same time last year.

USW Trade Support Included

USW works closely with its state wheat commission members and the U.S. government to help customers get the most value from their U.S. wheat purchases. In 2020, for example, USW’s Mexico City regional office arranged for quality control managers from a Mexican mill to meet with the USDA-ARS Soft Wheat Quality Laboratory in Wooster, Ohio, and OSGMP to identify SRW quality and supply. OSGMP collected samples that were analyzed at the ARS laboratory. Based on the two rounds of tests, the mill identified SRW harvested in 2020 from southern Ohio as having the flour and baking qualities needed to meet their snack food customer’s needs. Supported by additional trade service information from USW and OSGMP, the mill purchased Ohio SRW that was loaded in Toledo, shipped via the St. Lawrence Seaway.

With strong production numbers, promising quality data, and dependable export service, the outlook for the 2021 SRW wheat crop should remain positive.

By Michael Anderson, USW Market Analyst

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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:

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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 https://vimeo.com/uswheatassociates.


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
Durum

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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 https://bit.ly/MarketSummary012721.

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 https://bit.ly/MarketSummary012721.