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Even with variable crop conditions, the 2024 Wheat Quality Council (WQC) Hard Winter Wheat Tour has estimated a total weighted average yield of 46.5 bushels per acre (bu/a) across its annual tour routes in Kansas with swings into southern Nebraska and northern Oklahoma. The tour yield estimate is up significantly from its 2023 estimate of 30.0 bu/a.

Valuable Insight

Sixty-nine participants this year from government, universities, media, grain trade, millers, bakers, and farms stopped at 449 fields to evaluate yield potential and crop conditions.

Photo shows Peter Laudeman in a wheat field with a yardstick during the 2024 Wheat Tour.

USW Director of Trade Policy Peter Laudeman.

“The tour has provided valuable insight into this year’s crop,” said Peter Laudeman, Director of Trade Policy, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) who participated in the tour along with his colleague Luke Muller, Assistant Director, West Coast Office. “Overall, the crop is looking stronger than the last two, uncharacteristically low production years, but it remains to be seen how far above that bar we will get when harvest is complete.”

Largely because of continuing short rainfall, the crop is developing at a faster pace than normal. Experienced crop observers and farmers participating in the wheat tour believe harvest in south-central Kansas could start in early June. That is up to 10 days ahead of average.

“The tour scouts reported wide variability depending on planting dates, moisture, and impact from pests and disease,” Laudeman said, illustrated by the two wheat fields seen at the top of this page. “Stripe rust was notably present across a large swath of northern Kansas and southern Nebraska counties where there is still a window for applying disease control products to limit yield loss. Wheat Streak Mosaic, a viral disease, is another concern to assess. We also saw freeze damage in many fields in southwest and south-central Kansas on the second day.”

Derek Sawyer, who farms near McPherson in east-central Kansas, told Kansas Wheat that although there have been multiple stresses across the state, “we are still looking at a decent crop. That is a testament to the wheat breeders and researchers and the work they have done.”

In 2024, farmers in the wheat tour area will harvest more fields compared to high abandonment in the severe 2023 drought.

“Last year, we only harvested about 200 of the 1,400 acres that we had planted, and those did about 20 bushels an acre,” Hoisington, Kan., farmer Dean Stoskopf told DTN/Progressive Farmer. “So far this year, we’ve still got all our wheat. Some is decent. Some is so-so.”

Tour organizer and WQC Executive Director Dave Green told DTN/Progressive Farmer that through the second day of the tour the crop looked better than drought conditions would have indicated.

“It seemed like, ‘Yes, we certainly need rain in a lot of areas,’ but I was surprised how not every field was drought-stressed and really looking like it’s in trouble,” Green said.

“I would really emphasize how crucial the spotty rain showers the past couple weeks were for those farms fortunate to receive them,” Luke Muller said. “The heat units and moisture in the next month will really determine how the crop gets across the finish line.”

Even with the tour’s higher-than-expected estimated yield estimate, there was muted pressure in the U.S. futures markets. July hard red winter wheat futures closed on May 16 at $6.73 per bushel, down only 1.6 cents from May 15. Significant cuts in Russia’s wheat yield estimates, including by SovEcon likely made the difference. The analyst this month lowered its 2024 Russian wheat production forecast by 7.2 million metric tons (MMT) to 85.7 MMT due to dry conditions and freeze damage in Central and Southern Russia.

The Wheat Quality Council each year emphasizes that the scouts’ estimated yield potential is only a snapshot of the crop during the week of the tour. The primary goals of the wheat tour are to make connections within the wheat industry, allow participants to meet wheat farmers, observe the growing crop, and to highlight the agriculture industry.

 

 

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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 Analysis Program and Wheat Quality Improvement Teams (WQIT) designed to help U.S. wheat breeders better understand the most important quality characteristics overseas customers need and encourage them to incorporate them as new varieties are developed.

The Wheat Analysis Program gathers input on wheat quality from key customers and returns that information to U.S. wheat breeding programs, demonstrating the U.S. industry’s willingness to listen and exchange ideas with customers. The teams also determine key messages to bring back to the U.S. industry and incorporate into their respective breeding programs.

To facilitate the program, USW sends export-quality flour samples of U.S. wheat to the UFM Baking School in Bangkok, Thailand, where buyers from the South Asian region evaluate the samples, under the supervision of the USW regional baking consultant. Quality control personnel conduct rheological and end-use quality tests at UFM and complete a standardized questionnaire to provide specific feedback to U.S. breeders on the quality characteristics and varieties preferred by overseas customers.

Group of U.S. wheat breeders participating in a Wheat Quality Improvement Team in Latin America in 2018.

USW brought a team of U.S. wheat breeders to Latin America in 2018 (here in Mexico) as part of a Wheat Quality Improvement Team (WQIT) activity to exchange quality information with customers in the region.

The WQIT activity directly connects wheat breeders with overseas millers and bakers in their countries. In 2023, USW combined a Wheat Analysis Program event with a WQIT activity in Bangkok, Thailand. Two dozen customer representatives from 13 regional flour mills attended the Wheat Analysis Program to compare the quality of U.S. wheat flour performance in end-products to local standards. Wheat breeders from four public universities and one private company on the WQIT observing the Wheat Analysis Program comparisons heard directly from end-users how the wheat class and varieties performed, and which wheat quality characteristics end-users prefer. The customers also gained an understanding of the U.S. wheat industry’s longer-term commitment to improve quality and consistency of supply.

Promoting Quality at Home

USW and other wheat organizations also promote the importance of wheat quality improvement to farmers. For example, USW also puts wheat quality improvement in the spotlight at producer meetings.

In addition, the National Wheat Foundation conducts the National Wheat Yield Contest every year. USW helps fund milling and baking quality testing on winning entries to ensure they meet specific grade and quality standards.

Wheat quality is part of preferred wheat variety listings.

PNW Preferred Wheat Variety listing for 2023. Read more here.

Other efforts include developing 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 from state wheat commissions in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho have helped improve soft white wheat quality for many years,” said Steve Wirsching, USW Vice President and Director, West Coast Office.

The Montana Wheat and Barley Committee (MWBC) recently published a new Spring Wheat Varieties guide that includes a Wheat Quality Index score measuring such quality attributes as flour yield, water absorption, stability time, and loaf volume tested at Montana State University’s Wheat Quality Laboratory.

In its Guide, MWBC recommends farmers choose the variety with a higher score when deciding between two varieties with similar agronomic characteristics and yield potential. MWBC emphasized this “can make a critical difference to buyers who are creating a wide range of wheat-based products.”

“Grain Craft, a private milling company, also publishes a PVL for hard red winter wheat, which is influencing variety selection in the Central Plains states,” Wirsching added.

Read more information from the Wheat Quality Council and from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).

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Editor’s Note: The following excerpts appear with permission from an article by Michelle Smith was published in “World Grain” on March 11, 2024. 

Because the quality and attributes of flour can vary by season and variety, it’s important for bakers to understand what works best in their products. One tool that can help them determine flour quality is Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) testing, said Sean Finnie, director of the Western Wheat Quality Laboratory with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service.

He spoke about SRC testing at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech 2024 conference, held Feb. 27-29. He is part of a team that works to improve wheat quality by identifying desirable traits, testing for them and working with breeders to enhance those traits.

“The way I see bakers using SRC data is the ability to make a profile of the flour you want,” Finnie said. “I think inherently bakers can look at and touch dough and know when something’s wrong. … If I were a baker, I would look at SRC data as a way of quantifying the inherent ability that you could just touch and feel when those are off, but you’ll know some issues before you actually make the dough.”

Photo of Sean Finne speaking to BakingTech in 2024 about solvent retention capacity testing.

Sean Finnie, director of the Western Wheat Quality Laboratory with the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service, spoke at BakingTech 2024 in Chicago, Ill. He is part of a team that works to improve wheat quality by identifying desirable traits, testing for them and working with breeders to enhance those traits. Credit: ©SOSLAND PUBLISHING CO.

If bakers have a particular wheat flour they like, solvent retention capacity testing would provide the flour properties of that wheat and could help bakers make a profile of it.

“You can customize what your profile is and help identify attributes that make the flour more consistent from lot to lot,” Finnie said.

Read the rest of the article in World Grain at https://www.world-grain.com/articles/19724-using-src-testing-to-improve-wheat-quality.

Scientists at the federal wheat quality labs are using SRC to determine how well new and existing U.S. wheat varieties will perform in the mill and bakery. As a service to its wheat milling and baking customers, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) provides a range of technical support that is unmatched in the global wheat trade. One of the most valuable is helping customers apply solvent retention capacity to better predict the true performance characteristics of flour for biscuits (cookies), crackers and cakes, as well as many hard wheat flour applications.

A Reflection of Functionality

More specifically, SRC examines the glutenin, gliadin and pentosan characteristics of the flour, and the level of starch damage in the flour. These values describe the flour’s ability to absorb water during the mixing process and its ability to release that water during the baking process. The combined pattern of the four SRC values establishes a practical flour quality profile useful for predicting functionality and how flour products conform to specifications.

USW is showing millers how to use SRC to analyze flour streams to maximize quality while minimizing costs. For bakers, such testing ensures they are using the best possible flour for their products.

In 2020, USW asked cereal chemist Art Bettge to go into more depth on how millers and bakers can use and interpret SRC results to add value to their processes and products. A cereal chemist with more than 40 years of experience at the USDA Agricultural Research Service Western Wheat Quality Laboratory in Pullman, Wash., and in his ADB Wheat Consulting business, Bettge recorded an in-depth video presentation.

Watch Bettge’s entire presentation from the 2020 USW Crop Quality Seminars below. USW technical staff also shared their recommended Solvent Retention Capacity profiles for cookie and cracker products online. And most importantly, USW representatives in 13 offices around the world, are always ready to help our customers, through technical support and trade service, making buying U.S. wheat a rewarding experience.

Header Photo Copyright © Chopin Technologies.

For additional information, visit: https://www.uswheat.org/wp-content/uploads/2021-Solvent-Retention-Capacity-Recommendations.pdf.

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Six sets of seven chromosomes make the wheat genome five times larger than the human genome. This complexity makes wheat breeding even more difficult, but technology like double haploid breeding has helped public and private researchers unlock potential agronomic, quality and even nutritional traits. Key to this work is a farmer-backed, for-profit plant services company housed at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center — Heartland Plant Innovations (HPI).

Starting with Synergy

Technology for crop improvement experienced a boom in the early 2000s, but applying those techniques was focused on corn and soybeans. The push to start HPI was the result of the industry’s recognition that wheat was being left behind when it came to applying innovative breeding tools.

“We were just trying to bring the message that we needed to make sure that wheat stayed relevant in the United States compared to other crops,” said HPI President/CEO Dusti Gallagher. “We wanted to let them know producers, specifically in Kansas and HRW (hard red winter wheat) producers, were really interested in bringing innovations and technology to the forefront with wheat because, at the time, we were losing a little ground to other crops.”

Photo of Dusti Gallagher, President/CEO of Heartland Plant Innovations.

Dusti Gallagher

The industry faced another significant challenge at the time — a lack of synergy and collective focus. As a result, a core group brought together representatives from across the industry, including producers representing the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas State University, the University of Kansas (K-State) and private companies.

“It started with communication. At that time, there was very little communication between the public and private sectors on wheat breeding; everybody was doing their own thing,” Gallagher said. “So, it started with bringing everybody to the same table to talk about what our common interests were. And once we did that, it started falling into place.”

Heartland Plant Innovations was officially formed in 2009. Kansas farmers, through state organizations, have majority ownership in HPI, and other members include private companies, universities and individual shareholders. The company started in Throckmorton Hall but quickly recognized that their work to amp up breeding technology required lab space, growth rooms, greenhouse space and other spaces to mix soil, plant pots, thresh heads and more. As a result, the early success of HPI helped provide the spark that led to the construction of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, where the company is now housed.

Today, HPI has seven full-time staff drawn from all over the world for their unique expertise, including agronomy, molecular biology, botany and biotechnology. In addition, two to three part-time students gain hands-on experience by assisting with harvesting, threshing, caring for plants and more.

Doubling Down on Double Haploids

Instead of competing with public and private wheat breeding programs, Heartland Plant Innovations was built around the idea of providing additional bandwidth and applying very specific technologies to assist those programs. The first — and still primary — of these tools is the production of double haploids, which essentially cuts half the time out of the wheat breeding process.

“We’re basically taking only the genetic material from one of the parents, the female parent, and we’re keeping those genetics and rebuilding that plant to where it can be a mature seed-producing plant,” Gallagher said. “And so, there’s a lot of steps along the way.”

The goal of the double haploid process is to create a population of plants that all have the same genetics across all their chromosomes, something that takes generations of traditional breeding to achieve but can be accomplished in a single year with the double haploid process.

Image shows a researchers hands removing male parts of wheat plant spikelets to allow fertilization of plants in the double haploid breeding process.

The doubled haploid process rapidly yields true-breeding lines that can reliably be tested and selected for specific, desirable improvements. Conventional plant breeding techniques achieve the same objective but over a much longer time. For winter wheat, the doubled haploid process delivers true breeding wheat lines in just one year, as compared to about six years for conventional methods. Source: Heartland Plant Innovations.

“We’re basically rescuing a very tender, very delicate haploid embryo and culturing it and taking care of it until it becomes a viable seedling,” Gallagher said. “Then we double its chromosomes through a process that we’ve created and that we’ve refined here at HPI. And that doubling process then creates a double haploid plant.”

The seeds from these plants then go back to wheat breeding programs, where breeders know the exact genetic material and can more efficiently evaluate lines in their programs.

“When they take it to the field, and they grow it, and they start evaluating it, they know its genotype, then they can make better decisions, and they can either advance that line quickly through their program, or they can make a decision that they need to do more crossing with it,” Gallagher said. “So, the double haploid process is a tool that allows a better-quality line to go through the process, and breeders can advance it quickly, and they can make better decisions based on that very pure genetic line that we provide to them.”

Heartland Plant Innovations has capacity to produce 20,000 double haploids a year and works with customers from all over the United States, from wheat breeders to public and private crop improvement programs. The process is fee-for-service, so it is open to the entirety of the wheat breeding pipeline.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the first seeds that have gone through our program,” Gallagher said. “They’ve been released to producers, and so they’ve been very good, healthy varieties that have proven to be profitable for producers.”

In addition to double haploid production, HPI also provides technical expertise using other advanced plant breeding tools, including genotyping and marker-assisted selection as well as supporting traditional wheat breeding programs and proprietary projects. Every piece of the business, however, is built on partnerships.

“The producers are really the foundation for all of this,” Gallagher said. “Everything that we do is driven toward making a better opportunity for those producers to have better varieties to be able to improve their bottom lines.”

Photo of Bob Dole wheat variety - Courtesy Kansas Wheat

The end result of breeding research at the Kansas Wheat innovation Center – Heartland Plant Innovations is new high-yielding, high-quality wheat varieties for farmers and their milling and baking customers around the world.

More to Come

From uncovering the dense nutrients for improving wheat as a food crop to bringing in trails from wheat’s wild relatives or improving agronomic traits, Gallagher told Harries there is still more to unlock in the wheat genome.

“I really don’t believe that we have tapped the genetic potential of wheat,” Gallagher said. “We’re just now getting to the point where we’ve mapped the wheat genome, and there’s still so much in there that we need to help discover, and that takes time.”

“Investment in wheat research is critical to us continuing to uncover the vast benefits wheat has to offer,” Gallagher said. “Continue to support universities and checkoffs because it’s those wheat research dollars that are really going to make an impact. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, but also looking at new opportunities and new technologies — and that’s what we’re here to do at HPI.”

Julia Debes wrote this article for Kansas Wheat, a member of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW). Gallagher recently sat down with Aaron Harries, Kansas Wheat Vice President of Research and Operations, on the Kansas Wheat “Wheat’s on Your Mind” podcast to discuss HPI’s positive impact on the wheat breeding pipeline.

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A month-long effort that had U.S. wheat farmers and industry experts presenting the 2023 Crop Quality Report to customers in more than two dozen countries is winding down with a collective sense of accomplishment.

It is believed at least one attendance record was set this year.

The annual series of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Crop Quality Seminars, which provide crucial information to customers and provide an opportunity for wheat buyers to interact and create a dialogue about the quality of the wheat crop, began in Sub-Saharan Africa on Nov. 1. Seminars in Central America/Caribbean and South Asia beginning soon after. Seminars in South America, the European Union and North Asia wrapped up on Nov. 20.

Only two dates remain: Seminars will take place in Dubai on Dec. 5 and Casablanca on Dec. 7.

Large Attendance

“The large attendance we saw this year highlights how much our customers value U.S. wheat’s timely and transparent information,” said USW Marketing Analyst Tyllor Ledford, who participated in her first Crop Quality Seminar. Ledford presented at the South Asia seminars (see photo above), which took place in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. “Throughout the three seminars, we were able to reach customers from Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The seminar in Bangkok was the largest on record, with nearly 140 participants.”

Attendance was strong throughout the 2023 Crop Quality Seminar series including here in Seoul, South Korea.

Attendance was strong throughout the 2023 Crop Quality Seminar series including here in Seoul, South Korea.

Producers Cory Kress (Idaho) and Aaron Kjelland (North Dakota) presented on New Technologies in Agriculture and Planting Decisions for Farmers. Likewise, U.S. country elevator managers Jason Middleton and Tyler Krause provided a presentation about grain origination and how it is handled at the first point of sale, in addition to by-class perspectives from exporters.

“The farmers and wheat buyers were happy to reconnect with familiar faces they had seen on trade team visits to the U.S. and other events,” said Ledford.

Positive Feedback

Erica Oakley, USW Vice President of Programs, said there has been a lot of positive feedback from each of the seven regions where Crop Quality Seminars were held.

“Our customers around the world have complimented U.S. wheat staff and presenters from our partner organizations,” said Oakley. “We had a lot of good information to share, so credit goes to the U.S. farmers who produced a high-quality wheat crop.”

Mexico

USW’s Mexico City Office hosted more than 225 participants representing flour millers and wheat buyers from Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

China

The North Asia Crop Quality Seminar team traveled to Suzhou, China, and presented to about 160 flour millers, wheat buyers, and baking industry representatives. Guest of note included Ms. LaShonda McLeod Harper, Director of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Agricultural Trade Office in Shanghai, and the senior COFCO Wheat Department Manager Mr. Sun Wei who had just participated in a USW-sponsored trade team visit for COFCO managers to the United States.

Group of about 160 U.S. and Chinese wheat industry officials and managers at the 2023 USW Crop Quality Seminar in Shanghai, China, Nov. 2023.

About 160 wheat buyers, flour millers, and baking industry executives participated in the 2023 USW Crop Quality Seminar in Suzhou, China.

Japan

Montana wheat farmer Denise Conover greets Japanese wheat industry executives at a USW Crop Quality Seminar in Tokyo, Japan.

Montana wheat farmer Denise Conover greets Japanese wheat industry executives at the 2023 USW Crop Quality Seminar in Tokyo, Japan.

In Tokyo, Japan, 130 customers attended a Crop Quality seminar. Attendees included flour milling companies from across the region, Japanese traders, grain inspectors and members of the media.

“The participants were very satisfied with the presentations and engaged them in active discussions and questions to gain a deeper understanding of the quality of this year’s U.S. wheat crop,” said Rick Nakano, USW Country Director in Japan.

South Korea

A total of 90 participants, including customers from the flour milling and food processing industries, attended the seminar held in Seoul, South Korea. It was the first in-person seminar held in South Korea in three years.

“Customers expressed great satisfaction with the on-site Crop Quality Seminar,” said USW Country Director Dong-Chan “Channy” Bae. “Notably, despite the typically reserved nature of Korean attendees, there was an engaging discussion on the market, wheat quality, and logistics during a question-and-answer session.”

South America

Seminars in South America attracted a good number of customers, reports USW Regional Director Miguel Galdos.

“In the seminar held in Cali, Colombia, participants represented 30% of total wheat imports in Colombia,” he said. “Meanwhile, in Bogota, more than 35% of total wheat imports were represented.”

USW Regional Director Osvaldo Seco welcomes participants to a 2023 Crop Quality Seminar in South America.

USW Assistant Regional Director Osvaldo Seco welcomes participants to a 2023 Crop Quality Seminar in South America.

A seminar In Quito, Ecuador, drew companies accounting for at least 90% of U.S. wheat imports. The same can be said for seminars in Lima, Peru, and Santiago, Chile – both saw more than 90% of U.S. wheat purchases represented.

Sub-Saharan Africa

USW’s Cape Town Office conducted Crop Quality seminars in Nairobi, Kenya; Lagos, Nigeria; and Cape Town, South Africa. Presenting quality data from the 2023 harvest were Dr. Senay Simsek, Department Head for Food Science at Purdue University; Charlie Vogel, Executive Director of the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council; and Royce Schaneman Executive Director of the Nebraska Wheat Board.

Simsek presented on Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) and industry analyst Mike Krueger presented via video on the world supply and demand situation for grains.

In Nairobi, USW also conducted a demonstration at the African Milling School using soft red winter (SRW) and hard red winter (HRW) for local products, such as chapati and mandazi.

By Ralph Loos, USW Director of Communications

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has published its 2023 Crop Quality Report, which includes grade, flour and baking data for all six U.S. wheat classes. The report compiles comprehensive data from the analysis of hundreds of samples conducted during and after harvest by our partner organizations and laboratories. The report provides essential, objective information to help buyers get the wheat they need at the best value possible.

In this short video, USW Vice President of Programs Erica Oakley talks about the 2023 report, while Director of Programs Catherine Miller discusses the USW Crop Quality Seminars scheduled around the world in coming weeks . . .

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The 2023 U.S. hard red spring (HRS) crop was produced under a wide range of growing conditions. A late spring delayed planting but the early moisture helped establish the crop. Then conditions across the region turned hot and dry with only spotty areas of rain. The rain returned and delayed mid- to late-harvest. Ultimately, total production reached 12.7 million metric tons (MMT), 14% more than in 2022.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) reports hard red spring quality highlights for three export locations. First is for HRS from the western region that supplies export facilities in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Quality data for HRS that moves from the eastern region to the Gulf of Mexico and to the Great Lakes are reported together. The complete 2023 USW Crop Quality Report and detailed by-class reports are being produced now and will be posted online over the next few weeks.

Close up photo of hard red spring wheat kernels.

2023 HRS PNW-Exportable Overview and Highlights

The 2023 U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat crop grown in the western (PNW-exportable) region offers strong grading characteristics, good protein content, typical dough strength, and improved bake parameters compared to recent years. 

The average grade for the 2023 PNW-exportable HRS harvest survey is U.S. No. 1 Northern Spring (NS), with 84% of samples grading U.S. No. 1.

Average test weight is 60.7 lb/bu (79.8 kg/hl).

The PNW-exportable crop has lower VITREOUS KERNEL (DHV) content, averaging 61% compared to 88% in 2022 and 84% for a 5-year average.

Wheat protein averages 14.1% (12% mb), below 2022 and the 5-year average. Distribution of protein is 32% below 13.5% protein and 40% above 14.5% protein.

Average 1000 kernel weight (TKW) is 32.1 g, well above 2022 and the 5-year average.

Buhler Laboratory Mill flour yield averages 66.7%, above 2022 and the 5-year average. Lab mill settings are not adjusted to account for kernel parameter shifts between crop years. The extraction is calculated on a tempered wheat basis.

Average flour ash is 0.48%, lower than last year and the 5-year average.

Wet gluten averages 32.4%, lower than 2022 and the 5-year average.

Amylograph average of 639 BU is much lower than 2022 and lower than the 5-year average, reflective of isolated areas with harvest rains.

Dough properties suggest a crop that exhibits strong characteristics with greater extensibility, compared to 2022 and the 5-year average.

Farinograph peak and stability times of 7.6 and 12.2 min, respectively, indicate the PNW-exportable crop is similar to 2022 and the 5-year average. Absorption values average 62.8%, down from 2022 and the 5-year average.

The average Alveograph P/L ratio is 0.68 compared to 0.74 in 2022, and the W-value is 384 (10-4 J), down from 396 last year.

The overall extensibility and resistance to extension of the 135-min Extensograph are 13.4 cm and 1001 BU, compared to 12.9 cm and 927 BU last year indicating slightly stronger, yet more extensible dough properties compared to last year.

The average loaf volume is 993 cc, above 940 cc in 2022, and 962 for a 5-year average.

Average bake absorption is 65.4%, lower than 2022 and the 5-year average.

2023 Gulf/Great Lakes-Exportable Overview and Highlights

The 2023 U.S. hard red spring crop grown in the eastern (Gulf/Great Lakes-exportable) region offers a nice balance of protein, strong dough characteristics and very good bake parameters. Overall, this is a highly functional crop.

The average grade is U.S. No. 1 Northern Spring (NS), with 95% of samples grading U.S. No. 1.

Average test weight is 61.7 lb/bu (81.2 kg/hl), lower than 2022 but similar to the 5-year average.

Average vitreous kernel (DHV) content is 44%, lower than last year’s 59% and the 5-year average of 65% due to late-season rain.

Wheat protein averages 14.3% (12% mb) with 21% of the surveyed crop below 13.5%, and 42% above 14.5%.

Average 1000 kernel weight (TKW) is 36.6 g, well above 2022 and the 5-year average.

Buhler Laboratory Mill flour yield averages 66.8, above 2022 but below the 5-year average. Lab mill settings are not adjusted to account for kernel parameter shifts between crop years. The extraction is calculated on a tempered wheat basis.

Average flour ash is 0.47%, similar to 2002, and lower than the 5-year average of 0.51%.

Wet gluten averages 33.2%, slightly lower than 2022 and the 5-year average.

Amylograph average of 566 BU is down from 2022 but similar to the 5-year average.

Dough properties suggest a stronger, slightly less extensible crop as compared to last year and the 5-year average.

Farinograph peak and stability times of 8.2 and 16.1 minutes respectively indicate the Gulf/Great Lakes-exportable crop is much stronger than average. Absorption values average 62.1%, down slightly from 2022, and similar to the 5-year average.

The average Alveograph P/L ratio is 0.78 compared to 0.63 for the 5-year average, and the W-value is 411 (10-4 J), compared to 388 for the 5-year average.

The overall extensibility and resistance to extension of the 135-min Extensograph are 14.0 cm and 1171 BU, compared to 15.6 cm and 743 BU last year indicating stronger, less extensible dough properties.

The average loaf volume is 971 cc, higher than 2022, and similar to the 5-year average.

Average bake absorption is 63.8%, significantly lower than 2022, and lower than the 5-year average.

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The 2023 U.S. hard red winter (HRW) growing season saw a mixed bag of conditions from another severe drought in the southern and central Great Plains to nearly ideal rain and temperatures in the northern plains and Pacific Northwest (PNW).

Total production, while still quite low historically, reached 16.4 million metric tons (MMT), a 13% increase from 2022. As for functional qualities, this is a sound crop that meets or exceeds typical HRW contract specifications and should provide high value to customers.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) reports hard red winter quality highlights for HRW grown in regions that supply feed into export facilities in the Gulf of Mexico and for export facilities in the PNW. The complete 2023 USW Crop Quality Report and detailed by-class reports are being produced now and will be posted online over the next few weeks.

Gulf-Exportable Hard Red Winter Crop Highlights

The average grade is U.S. No. 2 HRW with 84% of the crop grading No. 2 or better.

Test weights trended lower this year with an overall average of 59.7 lb/bu (78.6 kg/hl).

Kernel data indicate uniform and dense kernels with 69% exhibiting large size, a much higher level than in previous years.

Protein content average is 12.9% (12% mb), with 63% of Gulf samples 12.5% or higher.

Alveograph W average value of 260 (10-4 J) is exceptionally high for dough strength and an L value of 110 (mm) indicates very good extensibility.

Farinograph peak and stability averages of 4.9 and 8.9 minutes, respectively, are well within industry target ranges.

Average bake absorption is 64.6%, significantly higher than the 5-year average.

Average loaf volume is 936 cc, comparable to last year and indicative of excellent baking quality.

PNW-Exportable Hard Red Winter Crop Highlights

The average grade for the 2023 PNW-exportable crop is U.S. No. 1 HRW with 81% of samples grading No. 1 and 93% grading No. 2 or better.

PNW test weights trended slightly lower this year with an overall average of 60.7 lb/bu (79.8 kg/hl).

Protein content average is 11.8% (12% mb) with 59% of the crop 11.5% or higher.

Wheat moisture average is 10.4%, adding additional value for milling customers.

Kernel data indicate uniform and dense kernels with 69% exhibiting large size, which is a significant increase from last year and comparable to the 5-year average.

Alveograph W values were exceptionally high for dough strength at 296 (10-4 J) and the extensibility L values are high at 95 (mm).

Dough properties suggest an acceptable crop that is comparable to the 5-year average.

Loaf volume average is 868 cc, comparable to the 5-year average and above U.S. industry targets of 850 cc.

 

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“It was a challenging year,” said Oregon farmer David Brewer of the 2023 soft white (SW) wheat production season. “However, I believe that our investments into variety development and adoption of sustainable management practices have helped us ensure the best functionality from the 2023 crop.”

Seeding conditions were good in the fall of 2022 with sufficient moisture to get the soft white winter wheat crop off to a good start in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Dryness set in just as the crop was breaking dormancy and turned hot as farmers seeded their spring SW. Hot, dry conditions persisted and accelerated maturity and harvest.

Those growing conditions affected yields, with SW production now estimated at 5.3 million metric tons (MMT) or almost 195 million bushels. That is 23% less SW than PNW farmers produced in 2022.

U.S. soft white wheat kernels

Soft white (SW) wheat.

The dry conditions also contributed to a SW crop with above-average protein. Yet, the crop has appropriately weak to medium gluten strength and acceptable or better finished product characteristics. Stocks of more typical protein SW from 2022 are also available to buyers. In addition, the higher protein SW in this crop provides opportunities in blends for crackers, Asian noodles, steamed breads, flat breads, and pan breads.

The following 2023 crop quality highlights include functional data for Club, a sub-class of SW with very weak gluten strength, typically used in a Western White blend with SW for cakes and delicate pastries.

U.S. Club wheat kernels

Club wheat.

2023 SW Crop Highlights

  • The overall average grade of the 2023 SW crop is U.S. No. 1 SW; Club average is also U.S. No. 1.
  • Test weight averages trended lower this year with an average of 60.3 lb/bu (79.3 kg/hl) for SW and 60.7 lb/bu (79.8 kg/hl) for Club.
  • Protein (12% mb) is higher this year with an average of 11.1% for SW and 10.6% for Club.
  • Falling number average is 336 sec or higher for all SW composites and 327 sec for Club.
  • Buhler Laboratory Mill average extraction for SW is 70.3%, and 72.1% for Club. Commercial mills should see better extractions, although some adjustments may be necessary for portions of the crop with lower test weights. Flour extractions should not be compared to last year or the 5-year average as the calculation has shifted from a total product weight basis to a tempered wheat weight basis.
  • Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) lactic acid and water values for SW are 105% and 51%, respectively, indicating weak to medium gluten strength. Overall, SW composites have SRC profiles suitable for good cookie and cracker performance. Lactic acid and water SRC values for Club are 71% and 51%, respectively, and are indicative of very weak gluten with low water holding capacity.
  • Starch pasting properties include amylograph and RVA viscosities for SW and WC indicating the crop is suitable for batter-based products. The low protein SW composite average of 368 BU/2122 cP peak viscosity is reflective of a slightly lower falling number (313 sec). The overall SW and WC averages are similar to last year.
  • Soft white and Club dough properties are typical and suggest very weak to medium gluten strength and low water absorption values similar to their respective 2022 and 5-year averages.
  • Sponge cake volumes average 1089 cc for SW and 1110 cc for Club. Hardness value for SW is 353 g and 337 g for Club. All SW and Club cakes were baked from an experimentally milled straight grade flour. For comparison, control cakes baked at the same time from a commercially milled short patent cake flour (2022 harvest) have an average volume of 1205 cc and an average firmness of 242 g.
  • Cookie diameter values are 7.7 for SW and 7.9 for Club. Spread ratio for SW is 8.2 and 8.8 for Club. These values should not be compared to 2022 or the 5-year averages as the cookie method has changed as of 2023 (see analysis methods).
  • Average soft white pan bread bake absorption is 56.1% and loaf volume is 696 cc. Blends of hard wheat with up to 20% SW should produce acceptable pan breads, especially from higher protein SW.
  • Chinese southern-type steamed bread values for Club, and medium and high protein SW composites scored similar to or better than the control due to greater volume and whiter internal crumb color. Specific volume and total score averages are SW 2.7 mL/g, 70.8 and Club 2.7 mL, 70.7, respectively.
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The 2023 U.S. wheat harvest has ended and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) published its final weekly Harvest Report Oct. 6. This year’s first Harvest Report appeared May 19 and was published every Friday afternoon (Eastern Time) throughout the season with updates and comments on harvest progress, crop conditions for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and northern durum wheat.

#1 HAD

U.S. hard amber durum kernels.The final northern durum weekly report showed that compared to the prior week, wheat moisture increased to 11.4%, falling number increased to 416 sec and HVAC decreased from 81% to 80%. Compared to 2022, protein content, 1000-kernel weight, and percent damaged kernels were higher while falling number, test weight and shrunken and broken kernels were lower. The overall grade remained U.S. No. 1 Hard Amber Durum (HAD).

The Durum wheat Quality & Pasta Processing Laboratory at North Dakota State University is completing testing on the composites for the full northern durum regional crop quality report and USW’s 2023 Crop Quality Report.

Important Resource

Harvest Report is a key component of USW’s international technical and marketing programs as 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 in meetings and for answering inquiries. Several USW offices publish the report in the local language.

Anyone may subscribe to receive the Harvest Report directly to their email inbox by filling out a quick form found at this link.

The accumulated quality data gathered during the season and reported in Harvest Report builds to the annual USW Crop Quality Report coming soon. USW thanks the many partner organizations who support this work and Vice President of Programs Erica Oakley for managing these important reports.