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

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

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

Hitting Quality Targets

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

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

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

The Season in Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

2022 Crop Highlights

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

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

 

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An online training series developed by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) in the early days of the COVID pandemic continues to have success in its effort to educate South American bakers and millers about the value and quality of U.S. wheat.

Specifically, the Online Baking Certification program promotes baking methods and processes that highlight all six U.S. wheat classes. What is significant about the program is that it’s able to reach a large number of bakery and milling staff who otherwise would not be able to take part in educational workshops. The virtual format allows participants to study at their own pace before testing through a handful of modules to earn certification.

Funded by the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP) – a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) program created in 2018 to help U.S. agricultural exporters enhance their work in international markets and mitigate other obstacles to trade – USW’s online trainings have made great strides toward reaching the goal of boosting awareness of U.S. wheat.

Bakers and millers in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil have been getting a thorough introduction to U.S. wheat and are learning how they can utilize it to improve the quality of breads and other baked goods.

The goal for U.S. wheat is ambitious yet simple: Sharing ways to improve baked products made with U.S. wheat could result in increased consumption in South America, which could lead to more customers for South America’s bakeries.

It could also potentially lead to a greater demand for U.S. wheat.

Putting U.S. Wheat ‘Top of Mind’

USW's Online Baking Certification program build's upon an effort to create awareness of U.S. wheat in South America. Pictured here is an in-person workshop conducted in USW's Santiago office in 2019, prior to the COVID pandemic.

USW’s Online Baking Certification program builds upon an ongoing effort to create awareness of U.S. wheat’s value and quality in South America. Pictured here is an in-person workshop conducted in USW’s Santiago office in 2019, prior to the COVID pandemic.

Miguel Galdos, USW’s regional director in South America, says the goal of the Online Baking Certification program is to create better awareness of U.S. wheat.

“We want U.S. wheat to be top of mind for more bakers in the region, as well as for the technical staff at the milling companies,” he said. “We want to place a higher emphasis on reaching bakers

and technical people to perhaps give them a voice when it comes to wheat purchasing decisions.”

The fact that both bakers and milling staff are registering for the online course, too, is a sign that many in the industry want to take advantage of the opportunity to get experience working with U.S. wheat.

USW, the wheat industry’s export market development organization, works with wheat buyers, millers, bakers, food processors and government officials in more than 100 countries to promote the reliability and value of the six U.S. wheat classes. The new emphasis on creating awareness in South America and educate the people who work directly with wheat and wheat flour inside of bakeries is strategic.

Creating awareness – putting U.S. wheat top of mind of bakers – opens all kinds of opportunities.

“The key is that once they learn one aspect of U.S. wheat’s quality, they want to see what else there is to learn,” explained Galdos. “In this program, they must test out of one module to be able to move on to the next. Before earning the certification, they must complete a two-day practical course in person. Soon, after moving through the program, they are an expert on our product. At that point, U.S. wheat has developed a customer.”

Virtual Training has Become Commonplace

The virtual baking training includes six different modules that allow bakers and milling staff to progress at their own pace. Participants must pass a module to move on to the next, assuring they are exposed to all of U.S. wheat's positive attributes.

The Online Baking Certification program includes six different modules that allow bakers and milling staff to progress at their own pace. Participants must pass one module to move on to the next, assuring they are exposed to all of U.S. wheat’s many positive attributes.

Launched in October 2020 as an alternative to in-person training workshops during the height of the COVID pandemic, the Online Baking Certification program has grown rapidly. USW recently added a Portuguese version to the original Spanish version to attract more Brazilian participation. USW also has plans to add a master-level course in the near-future.

The current program has registered nearly 5,500 students in two years. Thanks to a partnership between U.S, Wheat Associates, the Brazilian Wheat Industry Association and the Brazilian Bakery and Confectionery Industry Association, further growth is expected.

The six South American countries targeted by USW are the six that purchase U.S. wheat.

“The biggest wheat buyer in Colombia has had 15 staff members go through the whole program and earn certification,” said Galdos. “Chile has been another active participant, so we are seeing interest from a good portion of the region. Brazil is promising. We have met with the millers and bakers’ associations and U.S. Wheat Associates is going to be recognized by those associations at an upcoming event.”

The birth of the program came by necessity after in-person trainings and workshops were eliminated because of COVID. By March 2020, USW’s staff in Santiago, Chile, were putting together educational materials to complete the online bakery course – courses featuring baking theory, video instruction and assessment platforms were assembled. USW Baking Consultant Didier Rosada played a key role in the production of baking videos for the modules, which were finished in May 2020 and then sent to selected baking staff around the region for testing.

Opportunity for a Competitive Edge

Those who have completed USW’s Online Baking Certification are reporting they gained greater knowledge of traditional baking methods that work well with U.S. wheat.

Miguel Galdos, USW regional director in South America

Miguel Galdos, USW regional director in South America

Galdos emphasized that the online courses provide U.S. wheat with an advantage over competing wheat growing and exporting countries.

One example is the value of U.S. hard red winter wheat compared to Canadian wheat.

“One thing we stress to the bakers in South America is that many of the products they are baking do not require Canadian wheat that is higher in protein but more expensive,” Galdos said. “U.S. hard red winter wheat is a better option, and the content in the online baking courses teach them why. We show them how to bake with it. The problem is that the bakers are not trained. We want more bakers in the region exposed to the value and quality of U.S. wheat and how using it can benefit their products and their businesses.”

Along with putting U.S. wheat top of mind for South American bakers, Galdos pointed out a valuable additional benefit to USW’s online baking program.

“Through this certification process we are working with bakeries, collaborating with millers, collaborating with the people who either are or could be buying and using U.S. wheat,” he said. “We are educating them and creating awareness for U.S. wheat. At the same time, we are building relationships.”

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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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The 2022 Hard Spring Wheat Tour sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council ended July 28 with a very positive outlook for the U.S. hard red spring (HRS) and durum crop. The wheat is behind its normal development at this time of year because of late planting, but more than 50 industry participants determined a total weighted average HRS yield estimate of 49.1 bushels per acre (about 3.3 metric tons per hectare). The weighted average durum yield was 39 bu/a, or about 2.7 MT/ha.

Those estimates are the highest since the spring wheat tour estimated an average HRS yield of 49.9 bu/a in 2015. Following the drought-ravaged 2021 crop, the much-improved potential of this crop is welcome news to spring wheat farmers. Harvest is not expected to start for at least 3 weeks, depending on weather conditions but the industry is cautiously optimistic.

Photo of Tyllor Ledford on 2022 Spring Wheat Tour

Measuring for Yield Potential. USW Assistant Director, West Coast Office, Tyllor Ledford measures a section of a North Dakota HRS crop to start calculating yield potential on the 2022 Hard Spring Wheat tour. Photo by Jeff Beach, AgWeek.

Neal Fisher, Executive Director of the North Dakota Wheat Commission told Progressive Farmer/DTN that there is a lot of potential “if we do not have an early frost of rain at harvest, and we can keep diseases [and pests] at bay.” The spring wheat tour scouts did see evidence of grasshopper damage in the crop, pest pressure likely resulting from the drought last year.

Happy Customer

In the same article, a representative of a large U.S. snack food company said participating in the spring wheat tour helped him understand future [supply] risks. He added that he was happy with the yield potential and thought the wheat quality “was great.”

Buyers and Farmers Together

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Assistant Director, West Coast Office, Tyllor Ledford participated in the 2022 spring wheat tour. Dave Green, Executive Director, Wheat Quality Council, noted that having representatives from milling and wheat food processing industries participate with farmers and other stakeholders is a crucial part of the annual tours.

The real value of the tour said one farmer is connecting with buyers and end-users in the fields to show them how farmers manage their crops for the best potential yield and functional quality.

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USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Administrator Daniel Whitley recently returned from leading a U.S. trade mission to the Philippines. The mission’s objective was to help foster stronger ties and build economic partnerships between the United States and the Philippines. The mission included representatives from 29 U.S. agribusinesses and farm organizations and 10 state departments of agriculture who are interested in exploring export opportunities in the Philippines.

Charlie Vogel, Executive Director of the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council, Red Lake Fall, Minn., shared his experience on the trade mission that included meetings with U.S. wheat customers in the Philippines.

People Make It A Small World

“Participating in the trade mission, I was reminded how big this world physically is and the miracle of modern transportation. However, from a human perspective, it is a small world,” Vogel said. “The concerns about geopolitics, world wheat supplies, market volatility, and weather were the exact same questions domestic buyers ask me about hard red spring [HRS] wheat. People are people the world over.

“A key takeaway from this trade mission is the value U.S. wheat farmers receive from the continued efforts of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and its staff, who set up meetings, tours, and dinners with millers, bakers and associations. Some themes became apparent. USW staff has developed deep and genuine relationships with these HRS buyers and end users. They provide technical skills and resources to assist these partners in maximizing use, expanding markets and product lines, and improving business. The consistent quality of HRS provided by U.S. growers, including from Minnesota, is essential to the value proposition USW utilizes. In the face of a rising U.S. dollar and uncertain geopolitics, these relationships are critical to continued success.”

Meeting Wheat Customers

USW Country Director Joe Bippert and the USW Manila team arranged a tour and meeting with Gardenia Bakery, a large commercial bread and wheat food company in Manila, for Vogel. In addition, Vogel and Bippert met with leaders of the Filipino Chinese Bakery Association.

Vogel’s photo at the top of this page is from a visit to the flagship store of Eng Bee Tin, an over 90-year-old landmark in the heart of the oldest Chinatown in the world. Eng Bee Tin produces hopia, a popular snack in the Philippines.

“We met wonderful, hospitable and genuine people in Manila, and I was happy to let them know how much our wheat growers in Minnesota and across the country appreciate their support for our products,” Vogel said.

Customer meeting during Philippines trade mission

Valued Customers. (L-R) Charlie Vogel and Joe Bippert met with Royce Gerik Chua, Eng Bee Tin, Jerry Midel, Philippine Society of Baking, and Henry Ah, Liberty Food Mart, during the FAS trade mission to the Philippines in July 2022.

World’s Most Reliable

USW and its legacy organizations have maintained an office in the Philippines for almost 60 years. Flour millers in the Philippines rely on U.S. HRS, soft white and hard red winter milling wheat to meet the growing demand for wheat foods in the island nation. Administrator Whitley also noted that the Philippines is the eighth-largest market for U.S. agricultural and food products, with even more potential. There is a reason for that, he said.

“Everywhere I go, trading partners are looking for a reliable supplier. And they view American agriculture to be the most reliable in the world,” Whitley said. “That, along with our outstanding qualities and the fact that we are embracing the challenge to produce commodities that are more sustainable.”

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Wheat harvest is underway in Oklahoma, and as an appropriate prelude, members of the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Wheat Improvement Team are working on stronger, higher quality wheat varieties.

Oklahoma State University wheat genetics chair Brett Carver shared with wheat producers at the recent Lahoma Field Day that his team of OSU wheat researchers have been breeding wheat varieties with exceptionally high gluten quality, excellent yield and reliable disease resistance.

“With wheat, we can look at a lot of different quality factors, but the one that probably stands out the most is the gluten quality,” Carver said. “The better the gluten quality, the better we can make a loaf of bread. That’s not to discount yield. We’re always going to be thinking about yield, but let’s bring quality into the conversation.”

OSU Wheat Breeder Brett Carver at Lahoma Field Day

Wheat Breeder Brett Carver talks about current and upcoming genetic lines offering higher quality wheat in the OSU Wheat Breeding Program at the North Central Research Station at Lahoma Wheat Field Day.

Quality + Yield

Higher gluten quality could mean more profitability for producers by increasing a wheat crop’s value, and when that trait is combined with high disease resistance, producers could also see an increase in yields.

“These new lines were bred for the purpose of maximizing the strength of the gluten. To do this, we had to use genetics we had never used before with the hard red winter (HRW) wheat class,” Carver said of OSU’s new line of wheat varieties with a Gallagher lineage.

A variety currently called “OK15MASBx7 ARS 8-29” was Carver’s primary focus for the day’s presentation. It was created by cross-breeding Gallagher and a Colorado State University variety called Snowmass.

OSU agronomists have created this new caliber of Gallagher to use a specific naturally occurring gluten protein that does not exist in other OSU wheat varieties.

Super Strong Wheat

“When you put that particular gluten protein with the Gallagher background, now we have a super strong wheat,” Carver said. “It was not easy to do. It took 10 years to get here. It was not an overnight success, but I think we’ve got it in this 8-29 line. And the yield of this would be a little bit higher than Gallagher.”

The 8-29 variety would serve as an ingredient in bread rather than as a stand-alone crop because its gluten is incredibly strong.

The 8-29 variety has a strength equivalent to or better than hard red spring varieties from the northern U.S. and Canada, and it averages 2 bushels more per acre than Gallagher. It is also more resistant to stripe rust than Gallagher.

“Adoption of the 8-29 variety would change what goes on the ingredient label for bread,” Carver said. “Vital wheat gluten is being added to bread to bolster the strength to allow for the modern-day, high-speed processing that occurs. We think we can do that naturally in our wheat varieties themselves.”

Wheat field day at OSU Lahoma Research Station

Higher Quality Wheat Field Day at Oklahoma State University’s North Central Research Station, June 2022.

Are Additives Needed?

Carver said there is nothing wrong with additives in wheat bread, but are they really needed? Getting away from vital wheat gluten to rely on just the wheat itself would be a big boost to the wheat industry because additives are costly.

“We are evaluating with the industry just how much vital wheat gluten can be replaced in bread with this wheat,” Carver said.

Carver said the 8-29 variety could also replace dough conditioners that are added to breads.

“There’s value in that to the baking industry and to the farmer,” Carver said. “Now, the farmer can produce a lot of bushels of wheat, and there is quality in those bushels that cannot be found in any other bushel of winter wheat.”

Carver said OSU researchers have started experimenting with four other derivatives of 8-29 that also have a Gallagher background in hopes of creating an even better yield while maintaining the high quality.

“It just so happened that working with Gallagher not only gave us the agronomic strength, but it gave us the baking strength from certain gluten proteins we were targeting and introducing into that Gallagher background,” Carver said.

More Varieties Ahead

Carver said he expects OSU will release the new Gallagher wheat varieties over the next two years.

“This is kind of a monumental moment for us. I had no idea in 2012 when we started this cross-breeding program that this is where we’d end up — in a uniquely functional class of wheat,” Carver said. “I want to make sure that producers have something they can grow and capture value from, not only just in the baking industry but at the producer level as well. We’re trying to figure it out as quickly as we can.”

Copyright Oklahoma State University. Reprinted with Permission, by Alisa Boswell-Gore, Oklahoma State University Agricultural Communications Services.

OSU Agriculture Field Days are educational events presented by OSU Ag Research and Extension to share research-based information and resources with Oklahomans. Field days showcase current agricultural research and relevant best practices through presentations, tours, hands-on workshops and discussion at little or no cost.

 

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In the increasingly competitive global wheat market, it is important to review the advantages that U.S. wheat delivers to millers and bakers. This post examines the advantages that durum wheat brings to the market.


Durum is the pasta wheat and the fifth-largest class of wheat grown in the United States with an annual average production over the last five years of 1.6 million metric tons (MMT), or about 58.79 million bushels. In part because of regional economies of scale, U.S. imports of durum at a 5-year average are 1.18 million metric tons (MMT). In comparison, export volume at a 5-year average is slightly less than 680 thousand metric tons (TMT).

Northern durum is grown in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana and primarily exported through the Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway or the Gulf. Desert Durum® is a registered certification mark owned by the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council and the California Wheat Commission. These groups authorize using the mark only for designated durum grain produced under irrigation in Arizona and California’s desert valleys and lowlands. Desert Durum® is exported from the Gulf or the West Coast.

Image shows long goods pasta production in a commercial plant.

The finest quality pasta is produced from U.S. durum grown in the northern Plains and in the southwest as Desert Durum®.

Milling Advantages

U.S. durum is competitive mostly with Canadian durum in the global market. U.S. durum is represented by three subclasses controlling for hard, vitreous kernel (HVK) content. Subclass options include Hard Amber Durum (HAD) with more than 75% vitreous kernels; Amber Durum with 60% to 74% vitreous kernels; and Durum with less than 60% vitreous kernels. Higher HVK values yield a larger quantity of semolina. U.S. durum has a large kernel size, allowing millers to benefit from higher extraction rates.

Desert Durum® is harvested and shipped at a very low moisture content. This advantage to millers contributes to efficient transportation costs and high extraction rates. It also allows them to add significantly more water during the tempering and conditioning phase of processing.

Product Advantages

The finest quality pasta is the primary product made from U.S. durum –  long goods, short goods, pasta of all shapes and sizes. Other products made from durum include couscous and some varieties of traditional Mediterranean semolina bread. In all durum food products, one quality factor is the most critical to the consumer – color. In its purest form, pasta is water and durum semolina. Couscous is large semolina boiled and eaten as an alternative to rice. In both products, consumers prefer a bright yellow, translucent appearance that U.S. durum delivers because of its higher HVK level. The higher HVK also allows the miller to provide a more uniform, consistent semolina to the pasta process, thus improving production efficiencies and color.

Image shows couscous made from durum wheat

Couscous is produced with durum wheat.

Sourcing Opportunities

Like some other classes of wheat, U.S. durum planted area is declining. Proactively working with producers and suppliers is the best way to assure ample supply to the market. Desert Durum® can be produced and delivered “identity-preserved” to domestic and export markets, which allows customers to purchase grain of varieties possessing quality traits specific to their needs. Annual production requirements can be pre-contracted with grain merchandisers ahead of the fall-winter planting season for harvest from late May to early July. Varietal identity is maintained by experienced growers planting certified seed and merchandisers who store and ship according to customers’ preferred delivery schedules.

Northern durum is competitively sourced by U.S. pasta producers in the Midwest and northern states. Export customers must be proactive when working with suppliers to obtain the best quality available, such as HAD.

U.S. Wheat Advantages

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

Each region, country, and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six unique wheat classes, the United States has the right wheat class to deliver the optimal quality and value for every variety of product on the market.

Learn more about the six classes of U.S. wheat here or leave a question in our “Ask The Expert” section.

By Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services


Read more about other U.S. wheat classes in this series.

Hard Red Winter
Hard Red Spring
Hard White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter

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Chefs, food marketers, millers and other wheat industry representatives came together in Napa, California, on April 11 to 14 for the Wheat Foods Council “Chef Workshop” and first “Future of Food Forum.” This seminar was insightful and provided a chance to advocate wheat foods to key people in the U.S. food industry.

At the Chef Workshop, chefs from major fast-food chains, restaurants from around the country, and other food service businesses got to learn more about ingredients, create food from other cultures, and collaborate with others. The Wheat Foods Council chose these chefs to participate in the Chef Workshop because of their influence within their companies. The Culinary Institute of America’s (CIA) Copia campus provided state-of-the-art kitchens, a wide array of spices and ingredients, and professional chefs with real world experiences to help facilitate instruction.

Cindy Falk, Kansas Wheat Nutrition Educator, and event attendee, said “The talented chefs used a variety of wheat-based ingredients, various seasonings and cooking techniques to create pleasing flavor combinations and elegant plates that looked like works of art.”

Future of Food

On April 14, the Wheat Foods Council held its Future of Food Forum. This included a panel discussion with various professionals including farmers, millers, food marketers, food packaging experts, and one of the professional chefs from CIA.

Barb Stuckey from Mattson shared her insights on the latest food trends and explained how food goes from development and research to shelves. Tim York from the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement explained food safety and business transparency. Hayden Wands from Grupo Bimbo explained how COVID, labor shortages and geopolitical disputes have been putting mills in tough situations and how it might impact consumers down the line. Master Chef Victor Gielisse of the CIA shared about building a quality work environment. He further explained the CIA’s “Plant-Forward” initiative.

Higher Cost of Production

Finally, Ron Suppes, farmer from Dighton, Kan., a board member for the Kansas Wheat Commission [and 2007/08 Chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW)] spoke about his farm. He showed the group a price comparison of fertilizer from a few months prior and prices today. This visual really made the point that … the input price increase is not linear, and costs of farming are dramatically higher. He advocated for the work researchers are doing on wheat to help farmers find solutions and ways to use fewer inputs but still achieve high quality wheat.

Sustainability

A common theme throughout both the Chef Workshop and Future of Food Forum was sustainability, from farming, milling, food packaging and cooking. Everyone along the supply lines is working hard to make sure society is getting safe, quality food without compromising the land. The discussion with panelists examined how generations viewed sustainability and how they relate to trends. Everyone provided great input on what is important in their respective part of the food supply chain regarding sustainability, and it helped everyone understand what each other’s role involves.

The event was an excellent opportunity for everyone to gather and learn about food while connecting with others in different industries. The goal for events such as these is to help close the gap between consumers and producers.

USW shared these excerpts from Mary Marsh’s post in Kansas Wheat’s “Wheat Scoop” blog to help inform overseas milling and baking customers about Wheat Foods Council efforts to increase wheat food consumption in the United States and ideas that may be useful in other countries.

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Wheat Letter recently reported on how improving U.S. wheat quality takes cooperation between people and industries around the world. Following up on the post about the Wheat Quality Council (WQC) meeting on Feb. 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo., this post is excerpted from a story in BakingBusiness.com about best management practices for growing more and improved hard red winter (HRW).

At the WQC meeting, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Vice President and West Coast Office Director Steve Wirsching emphasized that breeding wheat for higher yields and improved quality is crucial to continue serving domestic and overseas wheat buyers.

Growing wheat is often challenging, but recent adverse environmental conditions have made the venture even more so. Extreme drought and sometimes high winds without rain to relieve parched fields have ravaged the nation’s hard red winter wheat growing regions.

Breeding Protects HRW from Bad Weather

Portrait of Justin Gilpin, CEO, Kansas Wheat

Justin Gilpin, CEO, Kansas Wheat

 Justin Gilpin, Chief Executive Officer of Kansas Wheat, noted at the WQC meeting that as of late February, 85% to 90% of U.S. HRW were growing under drought conditions, based on USDA and U.S. Drought Monitor data. He showed most wheat crops across the hard winter wheat belt was rated poor to very poor, although conditions have improved slightly since then. At the same time, Gilpin suggested that the winter wheat surviving the drought was doing so because of its quality, proving that plant breeders’ investments have been worth the effort invested in public breeding programs by farmers, universities and governments.

Quality and Yield

The BakingBusiness.com article continued with a summary of regional and national programs to help farmers maximize wheat quality as well as its yield. One of the most recognized programs is the annual National Wheat Yield Contest, which is coordinated by the National Wheat Foundation [USW is a co-sponsor of the contest]. And while the word “quality” is missing from that title, it is certainly a component of the contest, said Gilpin. Trying to bridge the gap between wheat producers and users, the contest now aims to recognize high-yielding and industry-desired high-quality wheat.

Another initiative dedicated to helping farmers produce high-quality wheat with high yields is the Kansas “Wheat Rx” program, a partnership between Kansas Wheat and Kansas State University Research and Extension.

Stronger Flour Needed

“The importance of management and ‘Wheat Rx’ as the prescription for high-yielding and high-quality wheat are, together, the new priorities for wheat production in the state,” Gilpin said. He added that U.S. flour millers want to supply higher quality, stronger flours for bakers, a desire shared by overseas millers.

Kansas Wheat "Wheat Rx" logo

Kansas Wheat Rx is a prescription for economical and sustainable production of high-yielding and high-quality wheat.

At the WQC meeting, Kansas Wheat Vice President of Research and Operations Aaron Harries and Kansas State University Research and Extension Agronomist Romulo Lollato shared their insights and research from the collaborative program. They said the Kansas Wheat Rx focus is to help producers identify the best wheat varieties for their specific environment and production practices.

For centuries, wheat has fed the world. Ensuring strong and high-quality varieties through modern plant breeding, along with maximizing yield potential, will sustain wheat’s role in feeding future generations.

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Wheat quality improvement is at the heart of the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) mission to enhance the value of U.S. wheat for overseas customers and profitability for U.S. wheat producers. Improved quality makes U.S. wheat more competitive in global markets and, in turn, increased demand benefits producers at home.

USW cooperates with stakeholders across the domestic and international industries to encourage U.S. wheat quality improvement.

Active Participation

Activities include past Wheat Quality Improvement Teams connecting U.S. wheat breeders with overseas customers to better understand the most important quality characteristics they need. Also, USW is helping fund milling and baking quality testing for entries in the 2022 National Wheat Yield Contest sponsored by the National Wheat Foundation (winning entries must meet specific quality standards). USW also puts wheat quality improvement in the spotlight at producer meetings.

Image shows HRW wheat breeders meeting with customers in Lima, Peru, to discuss U.S. wheat quality improvement.

Breeders with Customers. The most recent USW-sponsored Wheat Quality Improvement Team in December 2018 took U.S. hard red winter wheat breeders to Peru (above) and other Latin American countries to better understand what wheat quality customers need. USW photo.

Most recently, USW Vice President and Director, West Coast Office, Steve Wirsching, and Assistant Director Tyllor Ledford participated in a Wheat Quality Council meeting in Kansas City, Mo. This is an annual forum where wheat breeders from the Great Plains states gather to review the latest results of ongoing wheat quality studies.

Honest Evaluation

“It is a challenging task for wheat breeders to develop varieties that deliver higher yields for the producer and better functional quality for end-users,” Wirsching said. “But the data shows they are doing just that. And one reason is breeders hear the honest evaluation of about how the varieties they developed performed in the field at meetings like this.”

At the meeting, Wirsching reviewed how U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat quality has trended over ten years using data from the USW Crop Quality Reports that Ledford had prepared. He showed breeders that HRS yields are increasing about one-half bushel per year while also meeting high breeding quality targets for kernel soundness and flour performance.

Moreover, he showed HRS genetic advancements were achieved even across variable growing conditions in the Northern Plains production region of Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota.

Pushing for Improvement

USW also pushes to improve wheat quality and value by acknowledging areas where breeders can improve quality, such as water absorption. Absorption is an important quality characteristic valued in the export market to help bakers optimize their profits. Wirsching noted that the HRS ten-year crop average water absorption was 63%, which did not meet the HRS breeding target of 64% as measured by the farinograph.

Producers Can Also Help

Producing high-quality, high-performing wheat also takes best management practices on the farm. At the Wheat Quality Council meeting, Wirsching encouraged public wheat industries to develop producer outreach programs like Kansas’s “Wheat Rx” effort. Wheat Rx is a partnership between Kansas Wheat and Kansas State University Research and Extension to share the latest research recommendations for high-yielding, high-quality wheat to Kansas wheat farmers.

Image shows Steve Wirsching, USW, discussing wheat quality improvement at the Wheat Quality Council meeting.

Best Management Practices. At the Wheat Quality Council meeting, Wirsching encouraged public wheat industries to develop producer outreach programs to promote continuous wheat quality improvement. Photo by Romulo Lollato.

Other efforts will include preferred variety lists (PVL), which rank wheat varieties by quality and help wheat producers make informed decisions based on quality outcomes and yield potential.

Published PVLs are helping improve soft white wheat quality in Washington, Oregon and Idaho,” Wirsching said. “Also, Grain Craft, a private milling company, is now publishing a PVL for hard red winter wheat, which is influencing variety selection in the Central Plains states.”

After attending the meeting, Assistant Director Tyllor Ledford said the Wheat Quality Council is a uniquely collaborative organization.

Building Dependable Value

“Stakeholders like breeders, farmers, millers, bakers, state wheat commissions, and export organizations all come together to pursue a common goal,” she said. “And the product of this cooperation is making quality improvement a priority so that U.S. wheat can remain a dependable value to our customers around the world.”

Future Wheat Quality Council meetings are scheduled to focus on U.S. soft red winter and soft white wheat quality. Look for more information about these and other events focused on wheat quality in future Wheat Letter posts.