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News and Information from Around the World Wheat Industry

 

Speaking of Wheat

Consumers and the private sector are increasingly interested in food that is grown in a sustainable, climate-smart way, creating a substantial market opportunity. And, during the past three years, USDA has emerged as a leader in advancing climate-smart agriculture to mitigate and adapt to global climate change.” – USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis M. Taylor writing on “A Century of Agricultural Trade” for the U.S. Sustainability Alliance, of which U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is a member. Read more here

Winter Wheat Looking Better This Year

Wheat growing in rows

Winter wheat on April 1, 2024, is in much better condition overall compared to the same time in 2023.

USDA in its first weekly 2024 Crop Progress report suggests U.S. winter wheat is starting the growing season in significantly better shape than it was last year. On April 1, USDA estimated all winter wheat condition at 56% good to excellent, up from a decade-plus low of 28% at the first estimate of 2023. Compared to 36% in 2023, this year 11% of winter wheat was rated poor to very poor on April 1. Read more from Progressive Farmer/DTN here.

Welcoming NAWG Communications Manager

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) welcomes Elizabeth Rivera as its new Director of Communications and Partnerships. Elizabeth comes to NAWG with excellent experience on Capitol Hill. She earned a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Oregon. NAWG is the primary policy representative in Washington D.C. for wheat growers, working to ensure a better future for America’s growers, the industry and the general public. Read more here.

Wheat Production 75 Years Ago

High Plains Journal magazine recently published an article that examines “The Evolution of the Wheat Industry Over the Past 75 Years” by Lacey Vilhauer. Noting that USDA has collected data on every U.S. wheat crop since 1918, the article looks back at the 1949 Kansas crop, when farmers seeded 16,244,000 acres (6.57 hectares and 100% more than the 2023 Kansas seeded area) and the average yield was 11 bushels per acre. The pre-Green Revolution crop in 1949 also stood about 1.4 meters tall. Read more here.

Subscribe to USW Reports

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

Follow USW Online

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

 

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News and Information from Around the World Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

“It’s not what we did yesterday, but it’s the knowledge we accumulate today to make us better understand how to deal with (the market) and make more sales tomorrow.” – Gary Millershaski, Kansas wheat farmer, on his interactions with millers and wheat buyers during the recent USW Sub-Saharan Africa Board Team trade mission to South Africa and Nigeria. Read more here.

Minnesota Wheat Hires Sorenson as New Executive Director

The Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council (MWRPC) and Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers (MAWG) have hired Brian Sorenson as executive director of Minnesota Wheat. Sorenson was raised on a wheat, barley and sugar beet farm near Fisher, Minn., and joins Minnesota Wheat after working as a program manager with Northern Crops Institute since 2018. “We’re thrilled to have Brian join our team,” MWRPC Chair Tim Dufault said. “His background and passion for agriculture make him a perfect fit for the goals of Minnesota Wheat and Minnesota wheat producers.” Sorenson, who earned a Master of Science degree in cereal chemistry from North Dakota State University, said he is looking forward to the role and the duties that come with it. “It’s very important that our producers have access to improved wheat varieties and cutting-edge farming practices for wheat to be a profitable crop in their rotation, but also to provide the quality and value expected by millers and bakers around the world,” said Sorenson, who begins his position on April 2. Read more here.

Brian Sorenson

Brian Sorenson will begin his new role as Executive Director of Minnesota Wheat on April 2.

Martin to Retire From NAEGA on March 31

Gary Martin is retiring March 31 as President and CEO of the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA). Martin, who has been in the role since June 2000, has also served as the President of the International Grain Trade Coalition. His many industry leadership activities include service with the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialog for Trade, the Canada-U.S. Grain and Seed Trade Task Group and the Board of Directors of Soy Export Sustainability LLC. Alejandra Castillo will succeed Martin as NAEGA President and CEO. Castillo brings 15 years of industry experience having worked previously as regional director for South Asia based in Singapore and India. Most recently she served as director of global programs in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and before that, worked in trade execution for Cargill.

Gary Martin (left) is retiring at President and CEO of the North American Export Grain Association.

Gary Martin (left) is retiring as President and CEO of the North American Export Grain Association on March 31.

Number of U.S. Wheat Farms Declined 40% in Last 20 years

Since 2002, the total number of wheat farms in the U.S. fell by more than 40%, according to a new USDA report. The number of wheat farms went from 169,528 in 2002 to 97,014 in 2022. Also, “wheat production is down slightly, but has been variable year to year,” USDA reported. “Annual wheat production ranged from about 1.6 billion bushels in marketing year 2002/2003 to as much as 2.5 billion bushels in 2008/2009. Notably wheat production has not topped 2.0 billion bushels from 2017/2018 to 2023/2024.” Much of the decline in U.S. wheat production has been the result of lower area harvested, which dropped from 56 million acres in marketing year 2008/2009 to a low of 35.5 million acres in 2022/2023, the report notes. Area harvested has remained below 40 million acres from marketing year 2017/2018 through 2023/2024. Read more here.

WSU Wheat Breeders Put Royalties to Work

Established more than a decade ago, Washington State University’s (USW) licensed wheat royalties are helping improve farm facilities, train the next generation of scientists and growers, and, for the first time this year, enhancing grower assessments to address wider research priorities, the Washington Grain Commission (WGC) reports. “Royalties have become a critical source of support for public wheat breeding programs,” Rich Koenig, chair of the recently established WSU Grain Royalty Advisory Committee, said. In May of 2012, the WGC supported a WSU-sponsored initiative to license its future wheat variety releases. Working with the commission, WSU established a royalty of 2 cents per pound of certified seed sold. That charge is in the low-to-middle range compared to similar wheat-releasing institutions. Read more here.

U.S. Miller Surveys Consumers on Purchase Trends

In a report titled, “Trend to Table,” Ardent Mills identified key trends in purchasing decisions through a survey of adult U.S. consumers. The U.S. flour miller surveyed more than 10,000 consumers over the age of 18 for their thoughts on food purchasing decisions. Trends include an increased focus on sustainability, traceability, and nutrition. The company has also noted a growing interest in plant-based and specialty grains, as well as a shift towards locally sourced ingredients. Read more here.

 

Subscribe to USW Reports

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

Follow USW Online

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

 

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News and Information from Around the World Wheat Industry

 

Speaking of Wheat

We are always looking for improved varieties because we continue to face economic and agronomic challenges. High yields are great until they’re laying on the ground due to wheat stem sawfly, disease, or something else. I evaluate varieties and if they all perform similarly in the field, I’m going to choose the variety that performs the best for the end user.” Montana wheat farmer Charlie Bumgarner, quoted in the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee’s first preferred variety recommendations on hard red spring wheat varieties. Read more here.

Thanks to Texas Wheat Executive

Rodney Mosier

Rodney Mosier recently celebrated his 40th anniversary with the Texas Wheat Producers Board and Association. Rodney was hired at Texas Wheat on Feb. 23, 1984, as the Executive Assistant to then-Executive Vice President Bill Nelson. Upon Nelson’s retirement, Rodney was named Executive Vice President of Texas Wheat on April 1, 1998. During his career, Rodney has been highly involved with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), serving on various committees, traveling overseas, and helping facilitate foreign trade team visits to Texas, including the 2023 COFCO Team in the photo at the top of this page.

 

NAWG Elects New Officers

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) elected Keeff Felty as President during their 2024 Annual Conference in Houston, Texas. Felty is a fourth-generation farmer in the Altus area of Oklahoma. In addition, NAWG directors elected Pat Clements of Kentucky as Vice President, Jamie Kress from Idaho as Treasurer, and Nathan Keane of Montana as the new Secretary.  Read more here.

Expanding Rail System in Kansas

The Kansas Department of Transportation’s Rail Service Improvement Program (RSIP) will invest nearly $16.5 million on 17 short line rail expansion and rehabilitation projects to improve its agricultural supply chain. State funding for the 17 projects will be enhanced by a 30% match from each recipient, including major grain handlers such as The Scoular Co. and Viterra USA, resulting in a total rail infrastructure investment of more than $23.5 million. Read more here.

Wheat Census Data: Comparing 2022 to 2017

According to USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture released Feb. 13, 2024, of the 1,900,487 farms in the United States, 96,950 farms produced wheat with a total sales value of $88.51 billion. Compared to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, the number of farms producing wheat declined 8% but the sales value of wheat production increased by almost 58%. Learn more about the 2022 Census of Agriculture here.

U.S. Agriculture Produces Far More with Less Inputs

U.S. farm output nearly tripled from 1948 to 2021. The increased productivity is widely agreed to be the top contributor to the economic growth of U.S. agriculture. These data are presented in the Summary of Recent Findings released by the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS). ERS also reports that technological advancements such as animal and crop genetics, chemicals, equipment, and farm organization were the main drivers of continuous output growth without additional inputs. Read more here.

Subscribe to USW Reports

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

Follow USW Online

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

 

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News and Information from Around the World Wheat Industry

 

Speaking of Wheat

“Every one-degree increase in global mean temperature is predicted to result in a six to 10 per cent decrease in wheat yields.” – Australia’s Grains Research & Development Corp.

NAWG Names Thompson Congressional Wheat Leader

NAWG President Brent Cheyne (R) presents the Wheat Leader of the Year Award to House Ag Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson.

NAWG Wheat Leader of the Year

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) awarded Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania with its 2023 Wheat Leader of the Year Award for his work as Chair of the House Agriculture Committee. “On behalf of NAWG, I thank Chairman Thompson for the work he has done on behalf of wheat growers nationwide,” said NAWG President and Oregon wheat farmer Brent Cheyne, “The 2023 Wheat Leader of the Year Award is the highest honor wheat growers can use to recognize legislators, and it finds the most deserving recipient in Chairman Thompson.” NAWG also presented 19 Members of Congress with its Wheat Advocate Awards for their exceptional support of the wheat industry during 2023.

 

APHIS Reduces Karnal Bunt Regulated Area

On Feb. 14, 2024, APHIS issued a Federal Order (DA-2024-05) reducing the Karnal Bunt (Tilletia indica) regulated areas around eight fields in Maricopa and Pinal Counties to 0.2 miles. This action was based on a scientific analysis required under federal law and completed by APHIS, potentially allowing Desert Durum® production in the newly unregulated area.

K-State Scientist Discusses Wheat Breeding Innovation

Gene editing, genetic modification, transgenic; ever wonder what those terms mean? Eduard Akhunov (photo above) with Kansas State University does, and he explains it all in the latest “Wheat’s On Your Mind” podcast from Kansas Wheat. Learn how powerful new tools like gene editing can transform the world of wheat breeding, and how science is leveraging ancient genetics to improve modern-day wheat.

Progress on Rapid Falling Number Test

Researchers are advancing on several fronts in their efforts to develop a new immunoassay rapid test for wheat falling number, a key quality factor, according to Washington State University and USDA Agricultural Research Service. Wheat with a low falling number has starch damage and must be sold at a discount because it reduces end-use quality. Beta testing of the new rapid tests is likely to begin in March. The new test should offer results in 5 to 15 minutes and is intended for grain elevators at first to test commercially grown wheat. The current falling number test protocol is prohibitive for point-of-sale use.

Climate-Resilient Crop Research in Australia

Australia’s Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) has partnered with the Australian National University (ANU) and industry partners to invest in research to accelerate the development of climate-resilient crops. The three-year effort will focus on developing heat tolerant wheat genetics and determining what makes a wheat crop able to survive, grow and produce yields under high-temperature conditions. Read more here.

Wheat Food Donations Keep Growing

U.S. Wheat Associates tracks the volume of U.S. wheat donated by the government to food insecure countries, feeding programs, and to non-governmental organizations for monetization programs. To date in marketing year 2023/24, U.S. wheat donations stand at just under 406,000 metric tons (MT). In the five marketing years prior to 2023/24, U.S. wheat donations total more than 5.4 million metric tons.

 

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News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

 

Speaking of Wheat

“Locks and dams on the Lower Snake River and the Columbia River provide essential infrastructure for moving U.S.-grown wheat to high-value markets around the world. We cannot overstate the positive value they create for U.S. farms, [the] economy of the Pacific Northwest and far beyond.” – From USW letter to House subcommittee hearing on the Columbia Snake River System

Happy Chinese New Year!

The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Beijing office sent the digital “Happy Chinese New Year” card at the top of the page. We all hope “The Year of the Dragon” is safe and prosperous for the U.S. friends we represent, for our customers, and for our USW colleagues!

Past Chair Brian O’Toole Honored

Brian O’Toole, a past USW chairman and a partner in the sixth-generation T.E. O’Toole Farms has been named to the North Dakota Agricultural Hall of Fame. O’Toole served for 12 years on the North Dakota Wheat Commission, chaired the North Dakota Crop Improvement and Seed Association. He served for 16 years at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, Ore. During his years of service, O’Toole promoted North Dakota and U.S. wheat on trade missions to 23 countries. He has received Outstanding Young Farmer, Master Farmer, and Premier Seed Grower Awards. Congratulations, Brian, and thank you for your service! Read more here.

Brian O'Toole with Japan Flour Millers Association member.

Then USW Chairman Brian O’Toole presented this gift from U.S. wheat farmers to the Japan Flour Millers Association in 2015.

Winter Wheat Serves Conservation and Food Security

Kansas Wheat shared information about the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) is advocating to officially classify intentionally seeded winter wheat as a “cover crop” under USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other “climate-smart” programs, while not impacting its eligibility as a harvestable cash crop insurable through federal programs. “Climate-smart” activities like cover crops help farmers continue to be the best stewards of their lands, but winter wheat has been overlooked as a vital tool in both conservation and food security.

NAWG Recruiting Communications Professional

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) has a job opening for Director of Communications and Partnerships. The position’s main role is to oversee all media requests, publish the weekly newsletter and monthly podcast, communicate conference responsibilities, and help cultivate industry partnerships. Applications need to be submitted to [email protected] by Feb. 14, 2024.

February Cereal Sciences Events Calendar

Dr. M. Hikmet Boyacioglu of KPM Analytics compiles a listing of noteworthy worldwide conferences, expos, symposiums, and other events for the grains, milling, and baking industries. Visit https://lp.kpmanalytics.com/en-us/cerealgrain-science-event-calendar to download the February calendar and future posts.

NCI Announces Leadership Changes

The Northern Crops Institute (NCI) named Technical Manager David Boehm and Program Development Manager Dr. Casey Peterson as interim co-directors. The two will fill the role of Mark Jirik, who announced in December that he would step down after nearly six years heading the institute. The NCI and NDSU will begin their search for a permanent NCI director this spring. The change in leadership comes as the NCI is preparing to move into its new home at the Peltier Complex on the campus of North Dakota State University. The NCI and NDSU will begin their search for a permanent NCI director this spring. “Both David and Casey know the organization very well and will do a great job of leading the organization until a national search can be concluded,” said Matt Swenson, vice chair of the Northern Crops Council, a member of the North Dakota Oilseed Council and member of the interim search committee. 

U.S. Miller Supports Soft Red Winter Wheat Development

U.S. Wheat was pleased to participate in the “Double Crop Farmers’ Forum” sponsored by the Illinois Wheat Association and the Illinois Soybean Association Feb. 5, 2024. At the meeting, the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences announced that Siemer Milling Company, Teutopolis, IL, made a major gift to the college’s Department of Crop Sciences to, in part, fund an endowed chair in wheat breeding. Professor Jessica Rutkowski, the University wheat breeder, will be the first to hold this chair. Illinois farmers annually produce more soft red winter wheat than any other state. To see how Siemer Milling ensures the highest quality wheat for its grist, watch this video.

Group of people in front of a large room.

Announcing the Siemer Milling Company gift at the Double Crop Farmers’ Forum in Mt. Vernon, Ill., were (left to right) University of Illinois Dean Germán Bollero, Crop Sciences Department Head Adam Davis, President Richard Siemer, Siemer Milling Company, and Professor Jessica Rutkowski, small grains breeder and quantitative geneticist, who will hold the first Siemer Milling Company Professorship.

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News and information from around the wheat industry.

 

Speaking of Wheat

Farmers have a unique perspective of longevity and sustainability because our livelihoods depend on it. And it breeds a level of commitment to these practices over the generations. Wheat is an integral part of our system and has been for generations, but it’s important to see it in a context of the whole system that is anchored in this crop that just naturally fits.” – Park River, North Dakota, farmer Aaron Kjelland, in Episode 1 of the new “Stories of Stewardship” video series.

Thank You and Best Wishes to Ann Murchison!

Our colleague Ann Murchison (shown in the photo at the top of this page) has retired from her position as Office Manager, West Coast Office in Portland, Ore., after almost 29 years with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW). Over those years, Ann has welcomed hundreds if not thousands of overseas customers and other office visitors, shipped tons of wheat samples around the world, and cheerfully taken care of the people and busy office in the Albers Mill Building on the Willamette River. We all wish Ann a long and healthy retirement and sincerely thank her for such dedicated service!

Congratulations to Cathy Marais

USW is happy to recognize the service of Cape Town Regional Finance and Administration Manager Cathy Marais who marks 30 years of service on Jan. 17, 2024. Dankie, Cathy, for your hard work and dedication from all your colleagues!

Photo of Cathy Marais

Cathy Marais, USW Cape Town

K-State Seeks Nominations for New Grain Science Department Leader

The College of Agriculture at Kansas State University (KSU) is now accepting nominations and applications for the Head of the Department of Grain Science and Industry. This is a critical position for the milling industry. Click here for more information. Screening of applications will continue until the position is filled.

Wheat Breeding Innovation News

Researchers at the United Kingdom’s John Innes Centre have announced use of gene-editing techniques to help identify a temperature tolerance factor that may protect wheat from the increasingly unpredictable challenges of climate change. A team headed by Prof. Graham Moore made the discovery during experiments looking at wheat fertility in plants exposed to either high or low temperatures. Read more about this wheat breeding innovation here. In other news, U.S. based company Cibus, Inc., said it has successfully regenerated wheat plants from single cells in a wheat cultivar, a breakthrough the agricultural technology company said may be used to develop traits like disease resistance and nitrogen use efficiency that support increased yields. Read more about this innovation here.

Durum Prices are More Competitive

“World Grain” recently reported that pasta manufacturers looking for 2024 semolina coverage will find durum values lower than a year ago and down sharply from mid-December 2021. And yet U.S. Northern Plains durum growers deciding when to sell stored supplied will encounter bids hovering about a $1 a bushel higher than the five-year average for the date. Four months before the typical seeding time for the U.S. northern durum crop, soil moisture conditions were in much better shape than a year earlier. Read more here.

Durum

El Niño Winter Outlook

“Farm Progress” publications in the United States recently looked at the potential impact of the El Niño weather patterns on global wheat production. A wetter summer and fall in 2023 helped reduce the amount of wheat produced in areas experiencing drought conditions. The article notes that early in 2024, top hard red winter wheat-growing regions in the Southern Plains enjoyed higher rainfall volumes than at the same point over the past two years. Ratings improved for winter wheat crops in top producer Kansas, as well as Texas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. But dry soil continues to plague the entire Heartland. Through early February, 32% of U.S. winter wheat acres were rated in drought condition (below). And perhaps more notably, 25% of spring wheat acres were located within a drought area at that time (see additional maps here). Read more here.

 

 

 

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News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

Regenified, what does that mean? Raw materials … grown in a very sustainable effort. It’s saying that we are making things better tomorrow than they were yesterday, from a farming perspective. So, we are building the soil, we are preserving the soil, we are protecting the environment, we are doing all those things that are very important for generations to come.” – Bernard Peterson, Chairman, National Wheat Foundation and Kentucky wheat farmer who is the sole supplier of red winter wheat for Makers Mark® Bourbon. Read more here.

KSU Awarded $16M Grant to Study Crop Yields and Sustainability

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $7,657,633 grant to Kansas State University (KSU) to support an expansive study across the U.S. Corn Belt and Great Plains exploring how crop, soil, and water management affect the soil microbial communities that drive agroecosystem functions. Partners including KSU, Bayer, Iowa State University, LandScan, LI-COR Environmental, Mississippi State University, The Ohio State University and The University of Kansas also provided funds for a total investment of $16,362,948.

Argentine Wheat Policies, Production in Spotlight

With Javier Milei’s election as Argentina’s president, farmers there are hoping new policies will help rapidly expand wheat production, Bloomberg wrote this week. The news service cites a farmer and board member of the Bahia Bianca Grain Exchange who believes that Milei’s promise to undo currency controls cut agricultural export tariffs will entice increased production. The last time Argentina deregulated its wheat market eight years ago production soared by 52% and kept climbing to fresh records. Read more.

Christopherson Tells U.S. Wheat Quality Story

Regional farm publication Tri-State Neighbor has published an interview with South Dakota Wheat Commission Executive Director Reid Christopherson about his participation in U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Crop Quality Seminars in North Asia. He said the seminars put U.S. industry experts “in front of several of the best international customers, telling that story of why U.S. wheat should be a part of their formulation” adding that there is a special story to tell about the functional quality of U.S. wheat. Read more here.

Reid Christopherson, executive director of South Dakota Wheat Growers Association, recently traveled with a group of six others to China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to tell the story of U.S. Wheat.

Reid Christopherson, Executive Director of South Dakota Wheat Growers Association, recently traveled with a group of six others to China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to tell the story of U.S. Wheat.

K-State Research: Lower Gluten with Same Dough Quality      

Kansas State University researchers have reported a breakthrough in developing wheat-based foods that contain lower amounts of gluten, a discovery that may lessen the adverse effects for those with celiac or other autoimmune diseases. Scientists from K-State’s Wheat Genetics Resource Center and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service — in partnership with USW member Kansas Wheat — successfully used a gene editing technique to reduce the presence of two types of gluten-coding genes called gliadins. “We were very surprised that [editing] reduced the immunotoxicity caused by gliadin genes in wheat by 47-fold,” said Dr. Eduard Akhunov, University Distinguished Professor in K-State’s Department of Plant Pathology, and director of the Wheat Genetics Resource Center. Read more.

 

 

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News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

“It was really satisfying for me to meet customers halfway around the world that really appreciated the value of the wheat I grow. And I know it was satisfying for them to meet the farmer that truly cared about growing a valuable commodity and caring for the land my family has farmed for generations.” Derek Sawyer, a wheat farmer from McPherson, Kansas, and Kansas Wheat Commissioner, who participated in U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Crop Quality Seminars in South America.

Photo of Kansas farmer Derek Sawyer presenting to a Crop Quality Seminar in South America in 2023.

USW thanks Kansas farmer Derek Sawyer (above) and the many other farmers and industry officials for investing their time and energy to participate in our 2023 Crop Quality Seminars.

Snake River Dam Issue Gets Political Attention

Capital Press recently reported on Pacific Northwest legislators’ support for keeping locks and dams on the Lower Snake River in Washington State. These dams are essential components of the PNW wheat export system, making environmentally friendly and economical barging possible. The Idaho Wheat Commission offers a valuable resource for overseas customers interested in learning more about the entire Columbia Snake River System at its website here.

Ice Harbor Dam on the Lower Snake River System in Washington state.

The Ice Harbor hydroelectric dam and navigation lock on the Lower Snake River provides navigation, hydroelectric generation, and incidental irrigation.

Turkey Red: The Wheat that Built Kansas

Kansas almost wasn’t “The Wheat State.” If not for … one very special wheat variety 150 years ago, Kansas could have a very different agricultural economy today. Turkey Red winter wheat introduced by a German Mennonite farmer to his adopted state … gave rise — quite literally — not only to the state’s future nickname, but also to a burgeoning milling and baking industry. Read more from Farm Progress and Kansas Wheat’s Aaron Harries here.

U.S. Winter Wheat Ratings Improve

The most recent USDA Crop Conditions Report pegged winter wheat conditions at 50% good to excellent, the highest such ratings at the same time in 3 years. Recent moisture has helped improve ratings. For example, a Nebraska Extension official noted that “wheat is in a good position to overwinter and move into next year.” Read more here.

Lower Prices … Higher Sales

For the week ending Nov. 23, 2023, net U.S. wheat commercial sales of 622,800 metric tons (MT) for 2023/2024 exceeded trade estimates, spurred in part by futures prices near contract lows. China, Mexico, the Philippines, Japan, and “unknown” destinations led the buyers last week. Read more here.

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News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

“While our wide-open spaces are admired for their beauty, they also create excellent conditions for growing wheat and raising beef. Just a four-hour drive north of Yellowstone National Park sits Montana’s Golden Triangle. There our farmers seed more than two million acres of wheat each year. Hot days and cool nights in the summer make for some of the finest wheat in the world. Earlier this year, we were honored to host a delegation of flour millers in Montana to showcase where and how we grow these crops.” – Montana Governor Greg Gianforte in remarks to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen Oct. 31 during a trade delegation visit to Taiwan.

Montana Governor with President of Taiwan.

Montana Governor Gianforte meeting with President Tsai of Taiwan.

U.S. Winter Wheat Conditions

U.S. winter wheat conditions showed incremental improvement over the same time in 2022 according to USDA’s Nov. 7 report. Winter wheat rated good to excellent was at 50%, up from last week and 20 percentage points over 2022. Ratings are based on grower surveys and other measurements. Read more here.

$5 Billion Investment in Rural America

The Biden Administration has announced over $5 billion in funding for Rural America. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said it includes $1.7 billion for conservation. “It’s the single largest investment in any one year of conservation in the history of our conservation programs and a significant portion of it is $1 billion in regional conservation partnership program opportunities in 35 states. It’s funded from the Inflation Reduction Act which itself is a record level of investment in climate-smart agriculture,” said Vilsack. Read more here.

St. Lawrence Seaway Strike Ends

Union workers ratified a labor contract with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and shipping activity in the Port of Duluth has resumed. The 7-day strike shut down the entire St. Lawrence Seaway system and multiple ships were loaded out of Duluth and unable to leave. Read more here.

United Grain to Purchase Pendleton Flour Mill

Logo of United Grain Corp.United Grain Corp. (UGC) announced this week it will acquire Grain Craft’s Pendleton, Ore., grain elevator, more than 19,000 square feet of warehouse and accompanying property. The sale follows a fire last year that destroyed Grain Craft’s flour mill on that property. UGC says the Pendleton acquisition will support UGC’s McNary River Terminal by acting as a wheat satellite and positioning the company for growth in existing and new product lines. Read more here.

USDA Funds Help Advance Wheat Breeding

Montana State University professor Andreas Fischer is using funding from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to fill what he calls a “foundational gap” in plant science knowledge. The work could ultimately help develop new wheat and barley seed varieties to be more specialized towards their end use, a plant breeding benefit for farmers and their customers. Read more here.

U.S. Agricultural Trade Shows Negative Balance

John Newton, Chief Economist, with the Republican side of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee posted on “X” that USDA Foreign Agricultural Service agricultural trade data revealed FY23 farm exports at $178.75 billion and imports at $195.37B, resulting in a negative trade balance of -$16.6B, shown in the graphic posted at the top of this page.

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News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

The Commodity Credit Corporation and USDA’s market development and aid programs are critically important at this time, and with this additional support we can strengthen U.S agriculture’s presence in existing markets, open up new market opportunities, and build on our relationships and connections to ensure that high-quality American agriculture and food products reach where they are needed in the world.” – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announcing a new program adding funds to support U.S. export market development and international food assistance.

USW, State Commissions Welcome COFCO Trade Team

USW Hong Kong/China regional office is undertaking a first-hand look at the U.S. wheat supply chain and quality management systems for 8 wheat and flour industry managers with China’s COFCO agribusiness company. The trade team is planned to demonstrate to these purchase and quality managers that U.S. farmers, strong rail and river transport system, third-party quality certification and economical ocean freight from the PNW and Gulf provide a trusted source of wheat. State wheat commissions in Oregon, North Dakota, Texas, Kansas, and Ohio are hosting the team through early November. China’s U.S. wheat purchases have ramped up again in 2023/24 and, as of Oct. 12, 2023, include about 680,000 metric tons (MT) of soft red winter and 69,000 MT of hard red spring wheat.

USW staff and the COFCO team pause for a photo at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland.

USW staff and the COFCO team pause for a photo at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland.

Celebrating World Bread Day

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Manila, Philippines, office joined a celebration of World Bread Day (Oct. 16) at a Baking Demonstration Festival in Manila October 19 and 20. This was a joint project with the Filipino-Chinese Baking Association, Inc., and the Philippine Society of Baking that presented “BREAD OF THE WORLD,” filled with exciting new ideas, trends and innovations. The event featured free tastings, shared recipes to indulge in the goodness of baking fresh breads together. Several classes of U.S. wheat are imported by the Philippine milling industry to supply most of the flour consumed in that country.

Support For Conservation and Climate-Smart Agriculture

The USDA reported on October 16 that $1.77 billion has been issued through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to agriculture producers and landowners. USDA Secretary Vilsack said, “These producers and landowners voluntarily place their land under contract and, in the spirit of stewardship, agree to establish and maintain prescribed conservation practices for the life of contract.” There are conservation efforts on more than 23 million acres of private land and a 21% increase in the acres enrolled since 2021.

Key Washington State Rail Line

The Federal Railroad Administration selected the state of Washington to receive a substantial $72.8 million Fiscal Year 2022 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grant for capital improvements on the Palouse River and Coulee City (PCC) short line railroad. “This grant will allow the grain industry to respond to a critical need for improved transportation infrastructure and is deeply appreciated,” Washington Grain Commission CEO Casey Chumrau said. The railroad is an essential component of the Eastern Washington agricultural supply chain, facilitating the movement of the state’s high-quality wheat and barley to larger rail lines and on to both domestic and international markets.

National Wheat Yield Contest Winners

The National Wheat Yield Contest has announced the achievements of its 24 national winners, hailing from 12 different states, who have achieved an average yield of 144 bushels per acre (355 MT/hectare) across all categories. The National Wheat Foundation noted that growers demonstrated exceptional resilience this year. Despite facing adversity, with 59% of winter wheat production affected by drought on May 9, and 75% of spring wheat production impacted on July 25, these dedicated individuals showcased unwavering commitment to maximizing their wheat productivity in spite of environmental challenges. Read more here.

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