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By Sarah Ahrens, Agriculture Promotion Coordinator, Nebraska Wheat Board

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in October 2020 on the Nebraska Wheat Board section of www.nebraskawheat.com. It is reprinted with permission. Sarah reports that as a first time wheat farmer, her crop turned out very well with excellent yields and quality the matched wheat harvested in 2021 in her region of Nebraska. 

Hey everyone, my name is Sarah and I serve as the Agriculture Promotion Coordinator for the Nebraska Wheat Board. I come from a farming background as my husband and our family raise corn and soybeans, cattle and hogs. After working for the wheat industry this past year, I finally talked my husband into planting some wheat this fall…except he decided wheat production should be my project!

Let it be known, I have an A+ record for being a good passenger in tractors during planting season, but I have never tackled that project on my own. This year, I will be in charge of all wheat production aspects from the day the seed goes in the ground to the last day of harvest. I am excited for this opportunity, and I know I have a lot of great wheat producers who will help me along each step of the way.

Sarah Ahrens, Nebraska Wheat Board, a first time wheat farmer

Sarah Ahrens took on wheat management on her family’s farm in Eastern Nebraska in 2020.

As part of my job with the Nebraska Wheat Board, I get to work with producers from all across the state. Mark Knobel is the District 6 director and is located in Fairbury and represents the eastern half of the state. When it came time to order our seed for the year, I reached out to a local Extension agent, Nathan Mueller, and Mark about the best varieties to use and best planting dates. Mark grows, treats and sells Certified Seed in Nebraska.

Certified seed meets the quality requirements set by Nebraska Seed Law and the Federal Seed Act and assures the buyer of obtaining reliable performance of the variety purchased. Once we determined the best variety to plant in our area, we worked with Mark to purchase the seed and have it delivered to our farm. Near the end of this summer, Nathan put together an image of the best planting dates in Nebraska based on temperature records and previous information. This year, our region’s planting date is set at October 10th, though having it in the ground a little before then is our ultimate goal. Nathan does a great job working with and educating producers in eastern Nebraska about wheat. To read more of his information, you can visit his website at: http://croptechcafe.org/winterwheat/.

After researching seed varieties and speaking with the experts, we decided to purchase two different varieties: LCS Valiant by Limagrain and SY Wolverine by Syngenta. Both of these varieties are well adapted to the eastern side of Nebraska where we receive an annual precipitation of 30 inches and they also have good resistance to Fusarium Head Blight (scab) which tends to be an issue in our area. Fusarium Head Blight reduces overall wheat yield and produces mycotoxins, a toxic substance produced by fungus, that impact both human and animal health. Producing the safest wheat is a top priority, so we are taking the appropriate steps to reduce disease in our wheat.

One of the varieties we are planting, LCS Valiant, though it is licensed and marketed by Limagrain, was actually developed at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) by Dr. Stephen Baenziger [now retired]. Dr. Baenziger has been UNL’s small grains breeder for 34 years and has developed 44 wheat, 6 barley and 13 triticale varieties. The full research and development process from crossing lines to field trials and finally licensing the variety takes about 10 years. When a variety has been approved by the variety release committee, it is then licensed to either a state crop improvement association, certified seed grower or private company.

Seed Tag with Sarah Ahrens' name

Sarah selected LCS Valiant variety of hard red winter wheat that was developed by the public breeding program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and licensed for marketing by Limagrain. though it is licensed to Limagrain company for commercial sale.

Husker Genetics is the foundation seed department of UNL that sells foundation soybeans, wheat, barley, triticale, sorghum, millet, proso millets, dry edible beans and grass seed to certified seed growers. Husker Genetics works with producers all across the state who are certified seed growers, to grow and process the seed each year.  Wheat is one of the leading products sold by Husker Genetics. University programs all across the country account for more than 40% of the wheat seed sold each year, which makes funding for these programs a top priority for entities such as the wheat commissions all across the U.S.

The Nebraska Wheat Board was founded in 1955 when the Nebraska Legislature passed the Nebraska Wheat Resources Act. Today, the Nebraska Wheat Board collects an excise tax of four-tenths of one percent (0.4%) of net value at the point of first sale on all wheat sold in the state. This money is then directed into five categories to promote the industry: marketing (international and domestic), research, federal farm policy, and education and promotion. The Nebraska Wheat Board is directed by a seven-member board, appointed by the Governor, who then invests the collected funds into each of the five categories.

The Nebraska Wheat Board recognizes the importance of marketing the state’s wheat both internationally and domestically, but also strives to invest a significant portion of their budget into research. UNL varieties account for over one-third of the wheat grown in the state. With new disease and insect issues, as well as continually improving drought tolerance and increasing yield and milling and baking qualities, it is important for research at UNL to be funded because it will most benefit the producer.

As I have learned over the past 11 months in my position, a lot of work is done before the seed even gets to the farmer. It gives me peace of mind to know that many of the varieties planted in Nebraska are developed and tried right here in our state and then the seed is grown and treated by local farmers themselves. There is a sense of security when you know that your crop has been developed and tested for your area specifically and there is data to back up its proven performance.

I am excited to try my hand at being a first time wheat farmer and understand the production practices that help grow a good wheat crop. I plan on using my farm trials as a part of our crop progress reports this upcoming spring and summer as well. I should give a big thank you to my husband for working with me through this process. He has agreed to teach me how to run all the equipment, help me understand application timing and why, and answer all of my questions to the best of his ability. I look forward to this new challenge and I am excited to see what I can gain from it.

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Every farmer marks the passage of the year by the work that must be done. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) recently 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.

“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 is sharing individual chapters of the video throughout the year. “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 #wheatharvest21 for updates throughout the season.

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Every farmer marks the passage of the year by the work that must be done. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) recently described the planning and decision-making that go into seeding a wheat crop in the fall or spring.

As the crop grows, the work continues. Even with a good stand, crucial midseason factors must be monitored, and making responsible decisions on the farm ensure efforts are not wasted and the ultimate consumer of that wheat is satisfied that it is a wholesome ingredient in hundreds of wheat food products.

“Now there are decisions and risks and potential problems that must be checked every day,” Montana wheat farmer Angie Hucke told USW in a story about her family’s farm.

Each farmer is constantly making responsible decisions on the farm about soil fertility as well as weed, disease and insect control that may be needed to protect the crop’s yield and quality potential.

But like Kansas farmer Justin Knopf, they keep in mind the fact that members of their communities and families, as well as families around the United States and the world will be consuming the crop as a food ingredient.

“I always weigh those trade-offs with the end in mind and in a responsible way that consumers can be confident that we’ve done our due diligence at making responsible decisions in utilizing products on our farm, Knopf said.

 

As a part of its film, “Wholesome: The Journey of U.S. Wheat,”  USW is sharing individual chapters of the video throughout the year. “Midseason: Caring for the Crop” provides more information about how U.S. wheat growers are making responsible decisions on the farm.

 

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While it might not result in the iconic photographs we see during harvesting, all of the planning, decision-making and factors that go into wheat seeding are a crucial part of the wheat production process. Preparing for planting looks different for every farm, depending on the region, the soil and the wheat class.

Wheat is grown or harvested every month of the year in the United States in 42 of the 50 states. U.S. agricultural areas differ dramatically in topography, soils and climate, so the kind of wheat grown varies widely by region. One of the factors that determine how classes of U.S. wheat are categorized is when it is planted.

U.S. winter wheat is planted in the fall, typically in September and October. The plant goes into dormancy over the winter months and begins growing again in the spring. Winter wheat is harvested starting in late May and through the summer. U.S. hard red winter and soft red winter varieties are all winter wheat.

U.S. spring wheat varieties of hard red spring and durum are planted in the spring, typically in April and May, and is harvested starting in August.

U.S. soft white and hard white wheat can be planted in either the fall or spring, depending on the variety the farmer chooses. The chart below breaks down when each U.S. wheat class is planted and harvested.

U.S. Wheat Seeding and Harvest Dates

U.S. Wheat Seeding and Harvest Dates

As a part of its film, “Wholesome: The Journey of U.S. Wheat,” U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is sharing individual chapters of the video throughout the year. “Seeding: Planting the Crop” tells the story of three family farms as they go through the wheat seeding season and put a new crop into the ground.

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With the constraints the COVID-19 pandemic put on travel and meeting in person, videos are more important than ever before. For the U.S. wheat industry, that importance has increased as the pandemic has prevented the industry from meeting face-to-face with its overseas customers. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) currently has a range of video stories available on Vimeo, including features on U.S. wheat farmers, wheat production and technical milling topics.

Many of USW’s state wheat commission member organizations also have video stories about farmers and the wheat they grow, which we would like to highlight:

Arizona Grain Research & Promotion Council

Kansas Wheat Commission

Montana Wheat & Barley Committee

Oregon Wheat Commission

Washington Grain Commission

Both USW and its members have more videos they plan to publish later this year and USW will continue to share them here on the Wheat Letter blog and social media as they become available.

In the meantime, check out what our other members are doing on their websites and social media:

California Wheat Commission
Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee
Idaho Wheat Commission
Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board
Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council
Nebraska Wheat Board
North Dakota Wheat Commission
Ohio Small Grains Checkoff
Oklahoma Wheat Commission
South Dakota Wheat Commission
Texas Wheat Producers Board
Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission

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Originally published by Kansas Wheat. Excerpts reprinted with permission.

About 45 people from 13 U.S. states traveled on six routes across Kansas May 18 to 20, stopping at wheat fields along the routes to assess crop conditions and yield potential, as part of the 2021 Hard Winter Wheat Tour sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council.

What they found is perhaps a more productive crop than many had anticipated. The tour estimated an average yield potential of 58.1 bushels per acre, equal to 76.49 kilograms per hectoliter or 3.91 metric tons per hectare.

While an estimated 7.3 million acres of wheat were planted in the fall, the Kansas wheat crop varies in condition based on planting date and amount of moisture received. What Mother Nature has planned for the rest of the wheat crop year remains to be seen (harvest is likely 4 to 7 weeks away), but the tour captures a moment in time for the yield potential for fields across the state.

Calculating Yield in Muddy Boots

Every tour participant makes yield calculations at each stop based on three different area samplings per field. These individual estimates are averaged with the rest of their route mates and eventually added to a formula that produces a final yield estimate for the areas along the routes. The WQC held the hard winter wheat tour about 3 weeks later in May this year and more than half the fields were headed out. That allowed use of a different yield potential calculation than if the fields had not yet headed.

Recent rains across the central and southern Plains that gave tour scouts muddy boots helped improve crop conditions, especially for early seeded crops, and in northern and central Kansas that had not been stressed by dry conditions.

Day 1

On May 18, tour scouts made ­­­171 stops at wheat fields across north central, central and northwest Kansas, and into southern counties in Nebraska. The calculated yield average that day was 59.2 bushels per acre, which was 12.3 bushels higher than the yield of 46.9 bushels per acre from the same routes in 2019.

Calculating yield potential at the 2021 hard winter wheat tour

A scout in the 2021 Hard Winter Wheat Tour takes a measurement that will be used to help calculate the yield potential of this Kansas wheat field.

Day 2

The hard winter wheat tour continued May 19 with six routes covering western, southwest and south-central Kansas as well as some northern Oklahoma counties. The scouts made 164 stops in wet fields from rain received over the past several days. The wheat in southwest Kansas still looks rough, but crop conditions improved as the tour moved east.

The calculated yield from all cars this day was 56.7 bushels per acre. Tour participants remarked that those yields seemed high because the formula used to calculate yield potential does not take disease, weed nor pest pressure into consideration. Scouts saw some instances of wheat streak mosaic virus, stripe rust and Russian wheat aphid. Many of the fields with rust had been sprayed with a fungicide.

Day 3

The official hard winter wheat tour projection for total production in Kansas is 365 million bushels or 9.94 million metric tons (MMT). This number is the average of estimated predictions from tour participants who gathered information from 350 fields across the state. Based on May 1 conditions, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) predicted the Kansas crop to be 331 million bushels, with a yield of 48 bushels per acre, or 9.1 MMT. The NASS estimate is 18% more than its 2020 estimate at the same time.

The NASS estimate for the Nebraska wheat crop is 36.7 million bushels, or just under 1.0 MMT, up 8% from last year. The Colorado crop is estimated at 64.5 million bushels (1.76 MMT). Oklahoma’s production is estimated at 110.74 million bushels (3.1 MMT).

Tour participant discussions from each day of the 2021 hard winter wheat tour are posted at https://www.youtube.com/c/KansasWheat.

Read more about the 2020 virtual tour and the 2019 tour from U.S. Wheat Associates (USW).

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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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U.S. wheat farm families grow six distinct classes of wheat across the diverse landscape of the United States. Those farmers take great care in producing the highest quality wheat in the most sustainable ways possible to honor their family legacies and to ensure greater value for their customers at home and abroad. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people.


Hucke Farms: Angie and Will Hucke are third generation farmers and ranchers from Geraldine, about 40 miles (65 km) east of Great Falls in Montana’s “Golden Triangle,” where they grow winter wheat, spring wheat, hay barley and occasionally rotate in yellow peas. Previously, Angie had a corporate job and opted to leave that lifestyle to return to the family farm. Part of returning to the family farm meant being involved in their community and raising their son, Arrow (11) and daughter, Jetta (9) in an environment where they learn about “hard work, taking pride in a job well down and learning that work can be fun.” This year, Arrow drove the grain cart – his first time helping with harvest, and it was clear how excited and proud he was. Both are very involved in 4-H, rodeo and helping with chores on the farm.

Location: Geraldine, Mont.
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Hard Red Winter (HRW) and Hard Red Spring (HRS)
Leadership: Angie Hucke: President, Miss Rodeo Montana, Inc; Vice President, Geraldine Action Committee; emergency medical technician (EMT); and 4-H leader. Will Hucke: Captain, Geraldine Volunteer Fire Department; Board Member, Chouteau County Livestock Protective Association; high school girls basketball coach; and 4-H leader. Arrow Hucke: Vice President, Willing Workers 4-H Club; and Treasurer, Geraldine Middle School. Jetta Hucke: Reporter, Willing Workers 4H Club.


View other videos and stories in this series:

Stories from the Wheat Farm – The Next Generation in Kansas
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Loving the Work in Ohio
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Committed to Stewardship in Washington
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Living with Purpose in North Dakota
Stories from the Wheat Farm – A Passion for the Land in Oklahoma
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Committed to Wheat Quality in Oregon

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By Claire Hutchins, U.S. Wheat Associates Market Analyst

Persistent dryness is both a blessing and a curse to winter wheat farmers across the U.S. Plains states. Dry conditions accelerated the autumn row crop harvest, which allowed for quick planting and of hard red winter (HRW) wheat, but critically low subsoil moisture levels in states like Kansas and Colorado may leave producers more vulnerable to unpredictable winter weather. According to USDA, 41% of the crop for harvest in 2021 is in good to excellent condition, below some analysts’ average expectations of 53% and 15 points below this time last year.

Here is a look at winter wheat planting and development conditions by state.

Texas. HRW planting progress is right on schedule with 72% of the crop in the ground. While dryness persists in the Texas Panhandle, overall crop condition is in line with last year at 37% good to excellent. HRW planted area in the state is expected to increase for the 2020/21 crop. “We can attribute the increase in planted acres to improved prices and more favorable planting conditions,” said Darby Campsey, Director of Communications with the Texas Wheat Producers Board.

Kansas. Here, the HRW crop is 92% planted, 4 points ahead of this time last year. “Mid-September rains helped the early planted crop to emerge and come up pretty strong,” said Kansas State University Wheat and Forage Specialist Romulo Lollato, “but the crop planted after Oct. 5 is more hit or miss.” Kansas producers took advantage of dry autumn weather and a quick row crop harvest to accelerate rotational winter wheat planting. According to Justin Gilpin, CEO of the Kansas Wheat Commission, favorable harvest weather could increase Kansas winter wheat planted area year-over-year.

However, increased dryness throughout the state, particularly in the west, could challenge early winter wheat development. Excessive dryness at planting delays emergence and could delay every phase of crop development, said Lollato. Delayed crop development may push grain filling into hotter conditions, which has the potential to challenge test weight and yield. Producers are hoping for a mild winter and a cool spring with plenty of precipitation to boost the state’s yield potential. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the short term weather forecast in Kansas calls for moderate to heavy precipitation in southern Kansas, which would help early HRW development.

NOAA’s Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) predicts beneficial rainfall in southern Kansas, western Oklahoma and Northern Texas over the next few days.

“Pray for rain” in Colorado. About all the eastern third of Colorado, where most of the state’s winter wheat is grown, is under extreme drought. Two snowstorms between September and late October have been the “saving grace” for Colorado wheat producers. As of Oct. 25, USDA pegged Colorado’s HRW at 78% emerged, on track with last year and the 5-year average. “When you’re in a serious situation like this, any moisture is highly needed,” said Brad Erker, Executive Director of the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee. However, only 24% of the state’s HRW is in good to excellent condition compared to 59% last year on extreme dryness. If drought persists through the winter, Colorado’s crop could suffer yield and test weight losses. Producers are hoping for solid winter precipitation which could revitalize critically low soil moisture levels and protect farmland from serious wind erosion.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows abnormal to exceptional dryness in predominant winter wheat growing regions from northern Texas to the U.S.-Canadian border.

Nebraska. As of Oct. 25, the state’s winter wheat planting campaign for harvest in 2021 was complete. “Dry conditions were a ‘double-edged sword’ for Nebraska. It helped with a quick row crop harvest and allowed traditional wheat areas to be planted quickly. But some producers waited to plant due to extremely dry conditions,” said Royce Schaneman, Executive Director of the Nebraska Wheat Board. An early row crop harvest, favorable weather and strong marketing conditions could lead to increased Nebraska HRW acreage year-over-year.

According to USDA, only 43% of the state’s winter wheat is in good to excellent condition, compared to 61% this time last year on persistent dryness through the late summer and autumn. Recent snowfall in the west helped alleviate drought concerns, but more is needed in the coming months. Producers are hoping for much needed snow across the state to help boost soil moisture levels and protect the crop through the winter.

Good news from South Dakota. Relative dryness in South Dakota is a welcome change compared to last year’s overly wet field conditions. “Going into the fall, following this year’s incredible harvest, there were tremendous weather and price incentives for producers to plant more winter wheat compared to last year,” said Reid Christopherson, Executive Director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission. Most of the state’s winter wheat went into the ground ahead of recent, beneficial snowstorms. As of Oct. 25, 80% of the state’s winter wheat is emerged and 77% of the crop is in good to excellent condition. Looking ahead, producers in southern South Dakota expect mild to warm temperatures that would help with soil moisture absorption and strong early crop growth before the winter.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will continue to monitor Great Plains winter wheat development in the coming months.