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Wheat growers do not need a USDA report in one hand and a slide rule in the other to conclude that escalating production costs are outpacing increases in crop revenue.

Nor do they need an economics degree to locate the heart of the matter.

“The numbers we are putting in are racing past the numbers we are getting out,” is how Oklahoma farmer Michael Peters sums it up.

The same sentiment is shared by Denise Conover, a Montana farmer who recently finished planting winter wheat. With a chance to sit down and look at her numbers, she offered “fresh off the press” examples of how input costs have swollen:

  • The starter fertilizer Conover applies went from $696.10 per ton in 2021 to $1,006.35 per ton in 2022.
  • She paid $712.50 per ton of Urea (nitrogen fertilizer) last year compared to $843 this year.
  • The diesel fuel used to harvest and plant wheat on her farm rose from $2.87 a gallon to $4.80 a gallon.

    Oklahoma farmer and USW Vice Chairman MIchael Peters (left) inspects emerging hard red winter wheat. Like wheat producers around the country, Peters is working to be more efficient with his operation to overcome rising costs in fuel, fertilizer and other inputs.

    Oklahoma farmer and USW Vice Chairman Michael Peters (left) inspects emerging hard red winter wheat. Like other wheat producers around the country, Peters is working to be more efficient with his operation to overcome rising costs in fuel, fertilizer and other inputs.

“The input costs are having an effect on our whole operation,” Conover, a member of the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Board of Directors who farms with her two sons, said. “Yes, wheat prices are up, but not enough to cover the rising input costs.”

‘When the Price of Everything is Up’

According to USDA’s Farm Sector Income & Finances report, farm production expenses for 2022 are expected to increase by 17.8%, representing the largest year-to-year dollar increase on record. USDA forecasts expect all expense categories to move upward, with some of the most significant spikes in fertilizer-lime-soil conditioner expenses, which are forecast to increase by 52.3%, and interest expenses, which are expected to increase by more than 39%.

Ben Brown, University of Missouri senior research associate for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, said fertilizer is “by far the most complex market that farmers encounter currently.” Brown reported 200% to 300% increases in fertilizer costs in 2021 and the first half of 2022 due to reductions in supply and strong demand. Many of the same factors look poised to return in 2023, Brown added.

Peters, USW’s Vice Chairman, grows wheat and raises cattle. He noted that farm input costs go beyond fertilizer, seed and fuel. He pointed to rising interest rates that can be a punch to the gut for farmers who depend on loans each spring and fall to produce wheat and other crops. Supply chain woes hurt, as well. To put wheat in the ground this fall, Peters needed a part for his seeder.

Farmer Denise Conover recently completed planting wheat on her Montana farm. She said higher input costs "cancel out" any gains farmers may experience from higher wheat prices.

Farmer Denise Conover recently completed planting wheat on her Montana farm. She said higher input costs “cancel out” any gains farmers may realize due to higher wheat prices. (Photo courtesy of Scripps Media)

“Two years ago, I had to buy the same part and it came to about $170 – this time it was well over $300, which means the price basically doubled in two years,” he explained. “All of this bites into the bottom line, and I don’t think a lot of people outside of agriculture realize it.”

Indeed, that disconnect is real.

“Everybody goes, ‘$9 wheat, you farmers must really be making tons of money,” Conover said. “But at the end of the day, when the price of everything is up, too, it turns out not to be a good economic situation.”

Value of Export Markets Emphasized

American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Shelby Myers provided an overview to confirm what farmers like Peters and Conover are experiencing.

“This is leaving many farmers to question their ability to just break even this year, despite high crop prices,” Myers noted. “While increased investment and capacity may help in the long run, in the near term, farmers are concerned about making sure they have the inputs they need to put a crop in the ground?”

Despite challenges, U.S. wheat farmers have consistently produced a high-quality crop desired by many international buyers. While export prices and lower overall production have reduced demand, U.S. wheat exports have remained in step with production – roughly 50% of the wheat grown is being shipped overseas each year.

And studies have confirmed that export market development provides a high return on investment, a fact wheat farmers recognize in difficult times.

“It is important to remind ourselves where we would be without exports and what would happen if we suddenly didn’t have export markets,” said Peters.

Still, rising input costs are – or will – force wheat farmers to make tough decisions in future planting seasons. Along with rising costs, there is also pending competition for acreage caused by growing demand for other corn and crops. For example, it is estimated there will be a need for an additional 20 million acres of soybeans in coming years to meet the needs of companies that manufacture renewable fuels.

The ultimate concern is that farmers will cut back on wheat production, threatening U.S. wheat’s worldwide reputation as the most dependable supplier.

Think Harder, Be More Efficient

Unlike other industries, the job of growing wheat has little wiggle room when it comes to production. The difference between a positive bottom line and a negative bottom line often comes down to timing and things that are out of a farmer’s control.

But farmers are pretty good at squeezing as much as they can out of that “wiggle room.”

“You can’t really cut back on inputs like fertilizer, fuel or seed – these are all things you need to plant and harvest a quality crop,” said Peters. “The good thing is that farmers are good at being efficient. In these situations, we really must think about the timing of applying fertilizer to get the best result. There was a time when we would just go out and broadcast fertilizer and not think about it all that much. But now, we put a lot of thought into the process. Not every farmer can no-till, but in areas where no-till can be done, that is a way to cut back on fuel. It’s just adjusting when and where you can.”

 

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The 2022 U.S. wheat harvest is complete and this week, USDA estimated farmers have seeded 79% of the 2023 winter wheat crop. As winter approaches and the planted crop goes dormant, a supply and demand update across all U.S. wheat classes is warranted. The annual U.S. Wheat Crop Quality Report can be found here.

Last year’s hard red spring (HRS) wheat, durum, and white wheat crops were challenged by dry growing conditions. That is not the case for those classes this year, but hard red winter (HRW) was significantly impacted by adverse growing conditions. Below is an update across the wheat classes.

USDA estimates 2022/23 U.S. wheat production will total 44.9 MMT, 100,000 MT more than 2021/22 but 9% less than the 5-year average and the second lowest level in 20 years. According to USDA, the average yield for all U.S. wheat is forecast at 3.13 MT/HA, or 46.5 bu/acre, 5% higher than last year. The higher yields are due to a rebound in HRS, durum and white wheat yields. The yield for HRW is down significantly. The latest Small Grains Summary placed all wheat planted acres at 45.73 million acres, down 2% compared to 2021/22.

The latest USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report forecast U.S. wheat exports to total 21.09 MMT, down 3% from 2021/22 if realized. Through the week of October 13, USDA reported total wheat sales of 11.2 MMT, down 8% compared to the same time last year. The latest USDA Wheat Outlook suggested that tight supplies and historically high wheat prices have made U.S. wheat less competitive in the international market.

HRW

Hard White Wheat Harvest Narjes NebraskaAccording to USDA, the total HRW planted area fell slightly to 23.08 million acres. The area harvested fell more steeply at 15.24 million acres, 1.95 million acres less than in 2021/22. Overall U.S. HRW production is 14.5 MMT, 29 percent less than last year. Kansas, the largest HRW producing state, saw production drop 119,000 bushels compared to 2021/22. Oklahoma’s production dropped 40%, at 68,600 bushels, according to the Small Grains Report. Exports of HRW are forecast at 6 MMT, 30% less than in 2021/22. Year-to-date HRW sales of 3.1 MMT are 30% less than the pace last year. The top markets for HRW are Mexico, Japan, Nigeria, Brazil, and Colombia.

HRS

HRS wheat harvest 2022USDA estimates total HRS planted area in 2022 was 10.20 million acres, 390,000 fewer acres than 2021. The area harvest was up 5%, at 9.82 million acres. Heavy rain and cool temperatures early in the planting season slowed down spring wheat planting in parts of North Dakota and Minnesota. North Dakota HRS yield rebounded 49% from last year to 50 bushels per acre. USDA estimates total HRS production will rebound from last season and reach 12.1 MMT, 49% higher than in 2021. HRS exports are expected to reach 6.1 MMT, 400,000 MT higher than last season. Total HRS sales in 2022/23 were 2% higher than last year at 3.3 MMT. The top markets for HRS are the Philippines, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

SRW

 

Harvest scene to illustrate 2021 soft red winter wheat crop story

The total planted area for SRW is 6.57 million acres, 78,000 acres less than last season. The area harvested was 4.79 million acres, down slightly from last season. USDA estimates total SRW production in 2022 fell 600,000 MT to 9.2 MMT. However, exports are expected to increase year-over-year to 3.7 MMT. Total SRW sales in 2022/23 are 16% higher than the year prior at 2.0 MMT. The top markets for SRW were Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and China.

White

Image of wheat harvest with four harvesters in the distance combining soft white wheat in Idaho.White wheat planted area, which includes more than 99% soft white (SW), totaled 4.24 million acres in 2022. The area harvested is 4.02 million acres, nearly identical to 2021/22. Improved growing conditions in Washington and Oregon increased yields significantly. Washington yields are 61% higher than last year, while Oregon’s yields are 51% higher, according to the Small Grains Report. White wheat production is estimated at 7.4 MMT, 1.9 MMT more than in 2021/22. Exports are expected to reach 4.6 MMT. Total white wheat (soft and hard) sales in 2022/23 are 17% higher than last year at 2.5 MMT. The top markets for white wheat were the Philippines, Japan, China, and South Korea.

Durum

 

Photo of durum kernels to illustrate durum production story

Total U.S. durum planted area in 2022 was 1.63 million acres, 10,000 acres less than last season. The area harvested was 1.58 million acres, 4% higher than last year. Improved weather conditions increased total durum yields by 64% to 40.5 bu/acre. USDA expects total U.S. durum production will be 1.7 MMT, rebounding 70% from last year’s drought-stricken crop. Exports are expected to total 700,000 MT. Total durum sales in 2022/23 are up 14% compared to the year prior at 139,300 MT. The top markets for durum were Italy, Algeria, Guatemala, and Japan.Conclusion

In the latest Wheat Outlook published by the USDA ERS division, the authors note the challenge posed by U.S. wheat competitors. The smaller U.S. wheat crop, higher barge (and rail) rates, continued logistical challenges, and the strong U.S. dollar will cut into the competitiveness of U.S. wheat exports. Putin’s war with Ukraine compounds these challenges.

U.S. wheat farmers continue to produce sufficient supplies of high-quality wheat to meet both domestic and international needs for literally hundreds of unique baked goods. And the U.S. wheat export system remains open for business.

In marketing year 2022/23 to date, Mexico is the top U.S. wheat buyer, despite purchasing 4% less than at the same time last year. The Philippines is the second largest U.S. wheat buyer, 20% behind its pace last year. Japan is the third largest U.S. wheat customer but remains 8% behind its purchase pace of last year.

*All sales data is through the week of October 13, 2022.

By USW Market Analyst Michael Anderson

 

 

 

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With a significant decline in U.S. wheat production, the September 30, 2022, the USDA/NASS Small Grains Summary report took many wheat traders and analysts by surprise. The report estimated total production at 44.91 million metric tons (MMT) 1.65 billion bushels of total U.S. wheat production, down 3.62 MMT from August estimates.

The quarterly report is the culminating outlook for the U.S. wheat crop and follows the Grain Stocks report in January, the Prospective Plantings report released in March, and the Acreage Report released in June.

An article in  Farm Futures, noted that all the pre-report trader estimates missed the mark except for white wheat production. Wheat futures rallied after USDA released the Small Grains Summary. December 2022 Chicago soft red winter futures closed 3% higher on the tighter outlook. Kansas City and Minneapolis exchanges were also higher. Reflecting the now apparently standard volatility, futures prices then retreated as speculators adjusted their market positions at the start of the new month.

Behind the Production Drop

U.S. wheat farmers faced many obstacles this year. Hard red winter (HRW) farmers experienced prolonged hot and dry conditions in the lower Plains states, especially Kansas, Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and Colorado. In the upper Plains states, hard red spring (HRS) farmers faced heavy rain and cool temperatures early in the planting season, causing planting delays and ultimately lowering the amount of spring wheat area planted this year, offset a bit by an increase in harvested area compared to the 2021 drought year.

USDA-NASS data on changes to production, yield and stocks for winter wheat from the 2022 Small Grains Summary

Drought in parts of the southern and central hard red winter wheat production region and other factors prompted USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to make a substantial reduction in total 2022 U.S. wheat production in its Sept. 20 Small Grains Summary.

The Small Grain Summary showed an improved yield when combining all wheat classes. The “All Wheat Classes” yield was up 5% from 2021 at 46.5 bushels per acre (bu/acre). The improved yield was boosted by a dramatic recovery in spring wheat which the report recorded at 46.2 bu/acre compared to 32.6 bu/acre in 2021, a 42% improvement in yield. However, winter wheat yield was down 6% compared to 2021 at 47 bu/acre. Durum wheat also saw a significant improvement in yield year-over-year at 40.5 bu/acre up 64% compared to last year.

WASDE Reflects Changes

The USDA applied the revised production data from its Small Grains Summary in its October World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) on October 12. While 2022 production was lowered 3.62 MMT, beginning stocks were raised. Looking ahead, 2022 ending stocks were lowered, led by a 900,000 MT reduction in SRW stocks. The ending stocks estimate, pegged at 15.68 MMT, is down nearly 14% from last year and, if realized, would be the lowest since 2007/08. Exports were trimmed 1.09 MMT to 21.09 MMT, if realized this will be the lowest export total in over 50 years (noting that U.S. exports were 21.20 MMT in marketing year 2015/16).

New Information, Different Result

In keeping with the volatile pattern, despite USDA’s latest estimate reducing total U.S. and world wheat production, futures did not rally as they did after the Small Grain Summary. Instead, the Chicago December SRW contract was down 18 cents. Kansas City HRW was down 20 cents, and the Minneapolis HRS contract was down 18 cents. Including supply changes, this market is loaded with uncertainty, including the on-going conflict in Ukraine, the high value of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies, and news of challenging weather conditions here in the United States and other wheat exporting countries. As always, your local U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) representatives are ready to help the world’s wheat buyers navigate these challenging conditions.

By USW Market Analyst Michael Anderson

 

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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 2021, the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) team in Beijing asked then-Chairman and Oregon wheat farmer Darren Padget to record a video message to Chinese milling and trading managers participating in a USW-sponsored “Contracting for Wheat Value” seminar.

The USW team wanted to show customers the important things U.S. farmers do every day to produce more and better wheat with less impact on the environment. Chairman Padget took the challenge to heart and spent an entire spring day walking the Chinese team through his operation to tell his farm’s sustainability story.

USW is sharing that story here with a wider audience that is increasing interested in learning more about sustainable food production.

Better Soil 

Joined by his son Logan and his father Dale — partners in Padget Ranches — Darren talked in his video presentation about the effort to improve the soil in which they grow high quality soft white wheat.

“From when my father came to farm … things have changed quite drastically,” Darren said. “Taking care of the land and making sure it is sustainable is very important  to us as we move forward. We used to till the soil heavily with a moldboard plow … it took a lot of time, a lot of fuel, and a lot of resources. Now, we do ‘direct seeding,’ which means the stubble in the field stays intact, which builds our soil organic matter and is less susceptible to erosion. It has been a big change. We have adopted the technology, and it seems to be the best answer to make sure this farm is here for many generations to come.”

Image shows Darren Padget bending down to drink from a garden hose on his farm

Clean Drinking Water. In the “A Visit to Padget Ranches in Oregon” Darren Padget said his family’s drinking water comes from a well on the farm, a personal reason why they are very cautious about crop protection applications.

Logan Padget is the fifth generation of his family to farm in this dry north-central Oregon region just south of the Columbia River. He has embraced precision agricultural technology. In the video, he talks about the efficiency of the farm’s crop protection product application equipment.

Precision Applications

“This machine is almost as late and great as you can get on technology,” Logan said. “It is GPS-controlled. Once I make the first pass on a field, the GPS can perfectly mimic that line across the field with just one-third of a meter of overlap. That is better than anybody could drive by hand. There’s also section control through the GPS, so if you’re coming across at an angle, each section will shut off to avoid double spraying, which saves us money. It also means fewer chemicals applied to the crop. It’s just a win-win all the way around.”

Better Quality Wheat

Darren also described how farmers are reaching beyond their own fields to help improve the functional quality of the milling wheat they grow for overseas and domestic consumption. He showed a “Preferred Variety List” that ranks public and commercial wheat varieties by desirability of quality characteristics based on three years of data. The list is developed by the state wheat commissions in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, which are directed by farmers who fund commission activities (including membership in USW).

Image shows the front and back of the 2021 Preferred Variety List for PNW wheat

Ranked by Quality. The Pacific Northwest Preferred Variety List encourages functional quality improvement for overseas and domestic millers and food processors. The description of the list states: “When making a decision between varieties with similar agronomic characteristics and grain yield potential, choose the variety with the higher quality ranking. This will help to increase the overall quality and desirability of Pacific Northwest (PNW) wheat.”

We invite you to view the entire video below.

Image shows the opening scene from a video featuring Darren Padget

https://vimeo.com/578611568

 

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Every farmer marks the passage of the year by the work that must be done. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has described the care needed as the crop grows to protect its potential yield and quality in a sustainable way. Stunning fields of gold mark the culmination of a farmer’s time raising wheat.

Wheat harvest is a season that brings joy but also demands a determination to do whatever it takes to bring home the crop at its peak. In the photo above, Colorado wheat farmer Brian Starkebaum pushes through the evening to harvest his 2022 winter wheat crop.

“Wheat harvest represents the fruition of everything that we have worked for the last several months,” said Ohio farmer Jeremy Goyings. “You get to capitalize and collect those things that you hope you are doing right to make lots of high-quality, high yield product to sell.”

“The work is just an emotional roller coaster day by day, honestly,” said Montana wheat farmer Angie Hucke. “Farming is risky. Being able to manage that and control what you can to make the best of what you cannot control is something that farmers keep in their mind all the time. But this is what we decided to do, and we are going to dig our heels in and make the very best of it.”

As a part of its film, “Wholesome: The Journey of U.S. Wheat,” USW has shared individual chapters of the video since celebrating our 40th anniversary. “Harvest: Bringing Home the Crop” provides more information about the work, risk and rewards of each wheat harvest.

During the wheat harvest season, USW publishes a weekly harvest update. Subscribe here to receive this report directly to your inbox. On social media: follow hashtag #wheatharvest22 for updates throughout the season.

 

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The 2022 U.S. wheat harvest is well underway across several states. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) reports on its progress as well as 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. These weekly Harvest Reports are published every Friday afternoon, Eastern Daylight Time, from May to October. Anyone interested in receiving this report directly to their email inbox can subscribe here. Updates and photos are also shared on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Several of USW’s state wheat commission members also share more detailed reports, pictures and stories from wheat harvest in their state. It is important to note that when the U.S. wheat harvest is expected to begin and end from state to state varies each year based on several factors, including weather and if planting was completed on schedule.

Learn how you can follow the U.S. wheat harvest by state below.

Kansas
Wheat harvest in Kansas typically begins in early to mid-June and is complete by mid-July. It starts in the south-central part of the state and moves north and west. Harvest reports are typically published online Sunday through Thursday during the harvest season. Viewers can also sign up to receive these reports via email here. Photos, crop progress and harvest updates are also shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Oklahoma
Wheat harvest in Oklahoma typically begins the last weekend in May, around Memorial Day, and is usually complete by the first week of July. It starts in the southwest and south-central part of the state, moves north and west, and then fans out across the northern tier of the entire state. Harvest reports are published weekly on the Oklahoma Wheat Commission website. Updates are also regularly shared on Facebook and Twitter, including photos and videos from wheat farmers across the state.

Texas
Wheat harvest in Texas typically begins in late April to early May and is complete by the beginning of July. It starts along the coastal bend in the southern part of the state, then moves north and west, concluding in the Panhandle. Photos, crop progress and harvest updates are posted on Facebook and Twitter. As harvest begins, updates are regularly posted to the Texas Wheat website.

Colorado
Generally, wheat harvest starts in Southeast Colorado around the third week of June and gradually moves north, typically nearing completion by July 15. Colorado Wheat publishes a weekly crop outlook report that is posted on Facebook, Twitter and its website homepage. Once harvest begins, a report will be published on the same channels approximately twice a week.

Idaho
Idaho wheat farmers typically begin harvesting in early July and continue through the end of August. Harvest starts in the central part of the state and moves north and south. Idaho wheat harvest updates and photos are posted on Instagram and Twitter. The Idaho Wheat Commission also sends an email newsletter on the first Wednesday of the month that includes a crop production report. Those interested can subscribe here or contact their staff here.

Oregon
Wheat harvest in Oregon typically begins in mid-July and is complete by the end of August. Photos, crop progress and harvest updates are posted on Facebook and Instagram.

Washington
Wheat harvest in Washington typically begins in early July and is complete by September. It starts in the west-central part of the state and moves east toward the Idaho state line. Learn more from the Washington Grain Commission on its website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Montana
Montana’s wheat harvest ranges from the end of July to the first week of September. HRW harvest typically begins first and is closely followed by HRS and durum, which is generally ready two to three weeks after HRW. Harvest starts in the south-central portions of the state and moves to the northwest and east. Photos, crop progress and harvest updates are posted on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. The Montana Wheat & Barley Committee also publishes monthly crop reports on YouTube, hosts a Live Crop Cam for viewers to check in on that crop throughout its lifecycle, and posts additional updates on its website.

South Dakota
Wheat production in South Dakota is evenly split between HRW and HRS wheat. HRW harvest typically begins in early July, with HRS harvest following in late July and early August. The South Dakota Wheat Commission shares updates in its South Dakota Wheat Outlook on its website and also shares photos and updates on crop progress and harvest on Facebook and Twitter.

North Dakota
The North Dakota Wheat Commission shares weekly crop progress and harvest updates on its website. Those interested can sign up to receive these updates directly to their inbox via the signup box at the bottom of the homepage here. Pictures and updates are also shared on Facebook.

Minnesota
Wheat harvest in Minnesota typically starts at the end of July in the central part of the state and moves north to finish by the end of August. Minnesota Wheat shares a weekly newsletter and other posts from the University of Minnesota Extension on its website, Facebook and Twitter.

Arizona
Arizona’s Desert Durum® wheat harvest typically begins in early May and is complete by mid-July. The Arizona Grain Research & Promotion Council shares updates on Facebook.

Other Sources

Crop Progress and Condition Reports by state are also published by the USDA State Crop Progress and Condition.

Connect with USW’s other state wheat commission members below.

Nebraska
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Maryland
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Ohio
Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Wyoming
Website

California
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as of Sunday, June 5, reported spring wheat planting at 82% complete, 15-points below the 5-year average of 97% and below analysts’ expectations of 86%. Spring wheat planting was up just 9-points from the week before, dragged down by slow progress in North Dakota and Minnesota. Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, and Washington planting were much further along averaging 98% planted, slightly ahead of the 5-year average.

Farmers in the upper Great Plains are likely disappointed at mother nature’s refusal to cooperate. After dry conditions in 2021, hard red spring (HRS) wheat production was down 44% compared to 2020. Planting conditions remained dry until late spring when heavy snow, persistent rain, and spring flooding made planting difficult due to the excess moisture.

A line chart showing U.S. spring wheat planting progress.

Planting Delay Perspective. This chart showing the percentage of U.S. spring wheat planting progress for the past several years showed planting in 2022 (thick black line) was far behind as of mid-May. Farmers moved quickly when conditions allowed and as of June 6, planting progress stood at 82%. Source: USDA/NASS.

Saturated Soil

Saturated fields are hard to move heavy farming equipment in. The equipment can also compact soil and tear up fields. Additionally, crops can emerge unevenly, if at all, in soggy soil. In the eastern part of North Dakota, flooding along the Red River caused road conditions to become impassable impacting field access for farmers. Finally, farmers must consider the impact of delayed planting; when spring wheat is planted too late the crop can yield less.

North Dakota

North Dakota, the largest spring wheat producing state, reported 74% of the HRS crop planted, compared to 59% the week before and 23-points below the 5-year average of 97%. Rain the last weekend in May delayed planting for some producers. Across the state, conditions differ, according to the most recent North Dakota Wheat Commission update some farmers have finished planting while others are less than halfway done. Some fields remain too wet to plant and more rain is in the forecast this week. Planting past this week is not ideal the commission notes but farmers are doing as much as they can to get their crop in the ground.

Minnesota

The USDA reported Minnesota at 65% planted for the week of June 6, 33-points behind the 5-year average of 98%. Farmers in Minnesota made significant progress between the weeks of May 22 and May 29 when HRS planting went from 11% to 53%, an impressive jump that shows what can be done in good weather conditions. Still, Minnesota farmers have much progress to make in the days ahead to get their wheat in the ground.

Canada

Conditions are not much different in Canada’s spring wheat production region. Dry weather last year also cut production while abundant rain this year is slowing planting progress. In Manitoba, the Canadian province adjacent to North Dakota, seeding progress was 40% for the week through May 31, compared to the 5-year average of 91%. Like North Dakota and Minnesota, Canadian farmers are dealing with saturated and flooded fields.

By Michael Anderson, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Market Analyst

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With wheat now firmly among the world’s top media stories, attention this week turns to Kansas and the annual Wheat Quality Council Hard Winter Wheat Tour. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Market Analyst Michael Anderson and Assistant Director, West Coast Office, Tyllor Ledford, will join more than 80 stakeholders scouting fields across Kansas, far southern Nebraska and far northern Oklahoma to estimate average yield and production.

Bullish USDA Report

USDA provided a preview on May 12 with a very bullish 2022/23 wheat outlook in its May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. Factoring in extremely dry conditions in the southern Plains, USDA estimated hard red winter (HRW) production at 16.1 million metric tons (MMT), down 21% from production in 2021. The farmer survey USDA uses to make its estimates suggested that 28% of winter wheat seeded in fall 2021 – mostly HRW and hard white – will be abandoned.

The Kansas Wheat Commission reported on May 9 that very little wheat would make it to harvest in several southwest Kansas counties. Throughout the winter, drought and vicious winds took their toll on the wheat and the soil. The photo at the top of this page from Kansas Wheat shows how farmers in that area have tried to protect their wheat from the dry winds with “chisel plowing” that lifts up soil into rows next to the wheat.

Map from NASS showing change in wheat yields by state from 2021 to 2022

Yields Down in HRW Region. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates lower HRW production in key states in 2022 compared to 2021 but a return to trend yields in the northern Plains and Pacific Northwest as of May 12, 2022.

Will the Hard Winter Wheat Tour see some measure of hope for a better-than-expected crop? After widespread rain in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and parts of Oklahoma the week of May 1, USDA’s May 9 estimate of wheat crop conditions in Kansas ticked up 3 points to 28% good or excellent. However, the week’s weather turned hot and dry again.

Some Decent Wheat

Ahead of the tour, Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin told his board that “there will be some decent wheat in the first part of the tour, but the scouts will witness the stressed, poorer conditions as they proceed westward.” He added that heat, low humidity and winds the week of May 9 likely pushed wheat rapidly toward maturity.

Colorado Wheat Director of Communications and Policy Madison Andersen reported to the state’s wheat farmers that “despite last week’s (May 2) rain, crop conditions remained unchanged this week (May 9). This [fact] further drives home the point that what remains of Colorado’s wheat crop is living on borrowed time. Even the ‘good’ wheat needs rain soon and the forecast is not encouraging.”

Photo by Colorado Wheat shows variable wheat conditions.

Decent Wheat. A photo taken May 13 by Colorado Wheat CEO Brad Erker in northeast Colorado’s Morgan County shows what he called “decent wheat” but with inconsistent stands.

Follow the Tour

The annual Hard Winter Wheat Tour will help make the picture of the 2022 U.S. HRW crop clearer. Along with the world, follow the tour in real time by checking #wheattour22 on Twitter. And keep up-to-date on the harvest, which could start soon in southern Texas, with the weekly USW Harvest Report posted for the first time this season on May 13, 2022. Subscribe to have the report sent directly to your email inbox here.