Commenting on his participation in the 2021 Wheat Quality Council Hard Spring and Durum Tour completed July 29, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Market Analyst Michael Anderson said “variable” was the word of the week.

“The crop condition varied across North Dakota, across counties and even across every 10 miles we traveled,” Anderson said. “We would see one nice looking field with wheat up to my waist then see sparse fields with stalks below my knee.”

USW Vice President of Programs Erica Oakley noted the variability in crop maturity.

“Most of the fields in the south and central areas of North Dakota will be ready for harvest within a week,” she said. “But as we moved north along the U.S.-Canada border, those fields were 4 to 6 weeks from harvest.”

It will come as no surprise that the tour confirmed that the U.S. hard red spring (HRS/DNS) wheat and northern durum production will be down significantly for 2021/22. The tour’s HRS yield estimate was 29.1 bushels per acre (bu/a) compared to the 2016 to 2019 tour average of 47.5 bu/a. The tour’s durum yield estimate was 24.3 bu/a, slightly higher than the tour’s durum yield estimate of 23.3 bu/a in 2008.

(L to R) USW staff Catherine Miller, Michael Anderson and Erica Oakley attended the Wheat Quality Council Spring Wheat Tour in North Dakota this week.

There is Good News

However, there seemed to be much less variability with what tour participants said about HRS/DNS quality.

Wheat Quality Council Executive Director Dave Green said even in the driest area of North Dakota, kernel quality looked good. Josh Longtin with Miller Milling Company told the Red River Farm Network that, “on a positive note, we hardly saw any quality issues, which is good for millers.”

“We saw many fields where the wheat was short, but the kernels were round and plump,” said Oakley. “So, the general consensus is the quality will be there – it is just a matter of how much wheat there will be.”

Wheat farmer and USW Director representing the North Dakota Wheat Commission Phil Volk was on tour and shared this observation with Progressive Farmer: “The bottom line is that we want our foreign customers to see that we will do our best to get them the best wheat possible, even with the drought conditions.”

Wheat Quality Council Spring Wheat Tour Day 2 stop in Burleigh County, North Dakota on the blue route. Photo shared by Kim Chapman, Bloomberg.

Great Experience

Every year, the Wheat Quality Council hosts the HRS and durum crop tour in North Dakota, bringing together participants from across the industry, including millers, traders, farmers, researchers, government officials and media. These participants travel in small teams along eight distinct routes covering most of the state’s wheat production, as well as into parts of South Dakota and Minnesota. The 2020 tour was canceled due to COVID-19. During the three-day tour this year, 43 participants inspected 273 fields. When scouting fields, participants measure yield potential, determine an average for the day’s route and estimate a cumulative daily tour average when all scouts come together again in the evening. The tour is also a tool to help educate a broad range of stakeholders about wheat production challenges.

USW is always pleased to send colleagues to the Wheat Quality Council tours. Michael Anderson and Erica Oakley have participated in other tours, but this was the first time for USW Programs Coordinator Catherine Miller.

“The tour was an incredible learning experience,” Miller said. “I got hands-on knowledge of the new spring wheat crop and the chance to meet so many new people from our shared industry. I have a much stronger appreciation for the challenges our farmers face every year to produce quality wheat for people here and around the world.”

USW is happy to share several photos from the tour here and thanks to Dave Green and the Wheat Quality Council for bringing the U.S. wheat industry together again.

USW will continue monitoring crop conditions and sharing updates in its weekly harvest report published every Friday during the U.S. wheat harvest season. The 2021 U.S. Crop Quality Report will be published in October. Subscribe here to receive the harvest reports and other crop quality updates directly to your inbox.

Green wheat field


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.



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

wheat seeding and harvest calendar

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.


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


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

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


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:


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

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


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 done 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 “Stories from the Wheat Farm” series:

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


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.


Variable growing conditions greatly influenced the 2020 U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat crop. In areas with favorable growing conditions, record yields resulted in lower protein but excellent test weights and kernel characteristics, while regional swings in temperature and moisture led to lower yields with higher protein. The result is a crop that has generally outstanding kernel characteristics with flour, dough and bake quality attributes equal to or better than last year and many of the 5-year averages. Overall, the 2020 HRW crop can be characterized as clean and sound with good milling and processing characteristics, providing customers with an exceptionally good range of quality and value.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has posted the full 2020 Hard Red Winter Regional Report on its website here, as well as the 2020 California Hard Red Winter Regional Report here.

USDA estimates the 2020 HRW planted area was again near historic 100-year lows, continuing the trend of recent years. Total HRW production is estimated at 17.9 MMT (695 mil bu), a 4.8 MMT (174 mil bu) decrease from 2019. Growing conditions varied among the HRW production regions.

  • The western Central and Southern Great Plains experienced insufficient moisture, freeze events and high temperatures during key stages of crop development, resulting in lower yields and kernel size, but higher protein.
  • The eastern Central and Southern Great Plains experienced favorable growing conditions resulting in record yields and very good kernel characteristics, but lower protein.
  • The Northern Great Plains and Pacific Northwest also experienced variable growing conditions. Washington, Montana and South Dakota harvested crops are equal to or better than average with very good kernel characteristics and protein. However, Oregon experienced a significant reduction in yield due to unseasonably dry weather.

With very few exceptions disease and insects were not a major issue for the 2020 HRW crop.

Here are highlights of data from the 2020 HRW wheat crop.


Wheat and Grade Data:

  • Grade – the overall average is U.S. No. 2 or better.
  • Test Weight average of 61.4 lb/bu (80.8 kg/hl) is above 2019 and the 5-year averages.
  • Dockage, total defects and foreign material averages are all equal to or similar to 2019 and the 5-year averages.
  • Wheat Protein (11.9%, 12% mb) and shrunken and broken (1.1%) are above 2019 and the 5-year averages.
  • 1000 Kernel Weight averages at 31.2 g, which is less than 2019 but higher than the 5-year average.
  • Wheat Falling Number – Average of 369 sec, indicative of sound wheat.


Flour and Baking Data:

  • Laboratory Mill Flour Extraction average is 73.5%, lower than the 2019 and 5-year averages of 74.5% and 75.4%, respectively.
  • Flour Ash levels of 0.49% (14% mb) is comparable to last year but lower than the 5-year average.
  • Alveograph W value of 261(10-4 J) is significantly higher than last year and the 5-year averages.
  • Farinograph peak and stability times, 5.3 and 10.3 min, respectively, are higher than the 2019 and the 5-year averages. Average bake absorption is 63.1%, also above the value for 2019 and the 5-year average.
  • Loaf volume averaged 859 cc, comparable to last year’s and the 5-year averages.

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

View other summaries of the 2020 U.S. wheat crop:
Hard Red Spring
Hard White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter

View the full 2020 U.S. Crop Quality Report and other related resources here.