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Recent news and highlights from around the U.S. wheat industry.

Speaking of Wheat

“We agree that trade, along with domestic production, plays a vital role in improving global food security in all its dimensions and enhancing nutrition. We commit to take concrete steps to facilitate trade and improve the functioning and long-term resilience of global markets for food and agriculture, including cereals, fertilizers, and other agriculture production inputs. Particular consideration will be given to the specific needs and circumstances of developing country Members, especially those of least-developed and net food-importing developing countries. We underscore the need for agri-food trade to flow, and reaffirm the importance of not imposing export prohibitions or restrictions in a manner inconsistent with relevant WTO provisions.

– From the Draft Ministerial Declaration on the Emergency Response to Food Insecurity adopted by the World Trade Organization at the 12th Ministerial Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2022.

Prices Weakening

U.S. wheat futures prices were down significantly last week, and the decline has continued this week. Soft red winter (SRW) futures closed down 36 cents at $10.34/bu, and early on June 23, the September price was about $9.75/bu. Hard red winter (HRW) futures closed last week down 57 cents at $11.05/bu, with the September contract at $10.22/bu early on June 23. Hard red spring (HRS) futures ended last week down 52 cents at $11.69/bu, and on June 23, the September price was $10.88/bu.

Focus on Drought

On Tuesday, the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Climate, Forestry, and Natural Resources held a hearing to discuss the persistent drought and the western water crisis. On June 1, the administration’s Drought Resilience Interagency Working Group released a report outlining actions taken over the previous year to improve drought resilience. Research could help the industry adapt to drought conditions. Washington State University was awarded a Seeding Solutions grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research to identify genes in spring wheat that would allow it to be more heat and drought resilient. Brazil has begun field testing Bioceres’ HB4 wheat, a drought-resistant, genetically modified wheat variety.

Focus on Ukraine

During a meeting with U.N. ambassadors and officials at the U.S. Mission to the U.N., U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the USDA and The Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine are entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance coordination between the U.S. and Ukrainian agriculture and food sectors and build a strategic partnership to address food security. Through the MOU, USDA announced that the United States and Ukraine will “exchange of information and expertise regarding crop production, emerging technologies, climate-smart practices, food security, and supply chain issues to boost productivity and enhance both agricultural sectors.” Read more here.

2022 Hard Spring Wheat and Durum Tour

The annual Wheat Quality Council spring wheat tour is scheduled for July 25 to 28, 2022. The tour will provide the first production estimate for the 2022 U.S. hard red spring and durum crops. Tour information and registration are posted here. Customers can follow the tour in real-time by following #wheattour22 on Twitter and keep up to date on the entire U.S. wheat harvest with the weekly USW Harvest Report.

Subscribe to USW Reports

USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

Follow USW Online

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos, and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo, and more on LinkedIn.

 

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The 2022 U.S. wheat harvest is well underway across several states. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) reports on its progress as well as crop conditions and current crop quality for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and durum wheat. These weekly Harvest Reports are published every Friday afternoon, Eastern Daylight Time, from May to October. Anyone interested in receiving this report directly to their email inbox can subscribe here. Updates and photos are also shared on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Sources

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

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

Nebraska
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Maryland
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Ohio
Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Wyoming
Website

California
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

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Consumers and suppliers both appreciate uniformity, the ability to purchase a reliable product that is available when needed. Customers of U.S. wheat know that dependable people grow and supply reliable wheat, which marks the difference between the U.S. wheat market and some competing suppliers.

Freedom to Trade

Free trade has been upheld in U.S. commerce since the country’s founding. The Export Clause, in Article I, Section 9, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution, states, “No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.” The framers of the constitution, eager to throw off the history of colonial rule, made it a policy that goods from the U.S. would be available to markets worldwide, and no elected official would tell them otherwise.

However, farmers have fought for uninhibited trade.

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1980, President Carter cut off U.S. grain exports to the Soviets. In the aftermath of the grain embargo, more stringent laws such as the export sales reporting and contract sanctity law were passed that doubled down on the freedom of commerce.

Protectionism Rising

Despite the sincere efforts by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to keep international markets open, some countries remain quick to block exports when markets become uncertain. Covid-19 and the global shutdowns that followed showed a pattern of export bans from major commodity producers. Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has also had a reverberating effect on the grain markets. Many would-be suppliers have instead banned or restricted the sale of their wheat, creating a supply worry and once again proving that not all markets remain reliable.

When countries implement wheat export bans claiming to protect their domestic market it creates uncertainty and higher prices for buyers. Putin’s war with Ukraine pushed already increasing world wheat prices to spike to more than a decade high in March, and prices remain elevated.

Putin’s war with Ukraine pushed increasing world wheat prices to spike to more than a decade high in March, and prices remain elevated. The latest USDA Supply and Demand Report expects Ukrainian wheat exports to fall by nearly half year-over-year from 19.0 million metric tons (MMT) in 2021/22 to 10.0 MMT in 2022/23. This 9.0 MMT reduction is almost the equivalent of all the wheat Turkey is expected to import in 2022/23. Russia’s unprovoked invasion has interrupted Ukrainian commercial sales and added uncertainty to the market.

India abruptly halted commercial wheat exports on May 13, catching the wheat market off guard. The immediate suspension has moderated somewhat since then. Still, the government’s promise to fulfill export shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was an unexpected and costly blow to the market.

Intervention Expands

Other countries have weighed the use of export-curbing measures. Argentina’s president in May urged its legislature to increase export taxes to protect domestic prices from “surging international prices.” Kazakhstan applied a quota on wheat, including durum, soft wheat, and wheat flour, from April 15 to June 1. Belarus imposed an export ban on grains from late 2021 to early 2022.

And Russia, with a very large wheat crop now expected, has not stopped its protectionist wheat export tax that only increases the cost for buyers. Russia also imposed export bans on countries in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which comprises former Soviet countries. The ban is in place from Mid-March to August 31, 2022.

When countries implement wheat export bans, they often claim to be protecting their domestic market. But the actual effect is higher prices for every buyer. Export bans also create uncertainty. India’s sudden export ban is a prime example.

“We bought wheat from traders and moved it to ports,” said a wheat trader caught off guard by India’s export ban. “Our intention is to fulfill export commitments, but we can’t overrule government policy. Therefore, we don’t have any option but to declare force majeure*.”

Buyers expect reliability, and that requires suppliers to have dependable partners. U.S. wheat farmers and their export supply chain partners, with government support, strive to be that dependable partner to world wheat buyers.

By Michael Anderson, USW Market Analyst

*Force Majeure is a provision in a contract that frees both parties from obligation if an extraordinary event directly prevents one or both parties from performing.

Header photo courtesy of Adams Farms LLC in Oklahoma, June 2022

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Global demand for wheat food grows stronger every year, making exports vital to U.S. wheat farmers. As the export market development organization for the U.S. wheat industry, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) works to help wheat buyers, millers, bakers, wheat food processors, and government officials understand the quality, value, and reliability of all six U.S. wheat classes. USW relies on its successful working relationships with world-class educational partners that, through courses, workshops, and seminars, enhance the technical and trade service assistance to help distinguish U.S. wheat from its competitors. One of those partners is the International Grains Program Institute (IGP) in Manhattan, Kan.

Located in the Kansas State University (KSU) Grain Science Complex, the IGP Institute offers innovative technical training courses and workshops to enhance market preference, consumption, and utilization of U.S. cereal grains and oilseeds and their value-added products. On-campus, on-location, and virtual education courses are led by KSU faculty and industry professionals in the areas of flour milling and grain processing, grain marketing and risk management, and feed manufacturing and grain quality management.

Adding Value

IGP’s mission is to demonstrate that U.S. grains offer a competitive advantage over other suppliers, especially regarding quality and consistency. IGP is focused on providing technical leadership in milling, baking, and grain storage for the wheat industry.

Shawn Thiele, IGP Associate Director and Flour Milling and Grain Processing Curriculum Manager, says that hands-on training is where participants maximize their experience, which is why IGP prioritizes scheduling a majority of course time for hands-on training or field visits outside of the classroom. IGP partners with the International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) and Buhler to host many of the grain processing and flour milling courses that focus on everything wheat and milling related, from wheat selection and storage, flour blending and quality control to end-use products and mill optimization and maintenance.

“We have a range of courses from an introduction to flour milling, which is geared towards non-millers working in the milling industry, to basic and advanced milling courses,” said Thiele. “Our goal is to showcase the importance of wheat quality and train participants on how to optimize the milling process to maximize extraction and quality of the U.S. wheat. Through each of these courses, we discuss all six classes of U.S. wheat, how their different characteristics translate into different milling practices, and how to optimize each to extract its full value and quality.”

In its grain marketing curriculum, led by Guy H. Allen, Senior Agricultural Economist and Grain Marketing and Risk Management Curriculum Manager, IGP offers courses beneficial for commodity traders, bankers, and individuals responsible for buying U.S. food and feed grains. The grain procurement and purchasing course focuses on the mechanics of purchasing raw materials and features detailed discussions of cash and futures markets, contracts, and ocean transportation. The risk management course focuses on the principles of risk management and commodity price control through hedging principles and using various hedging strategies. Allen is also working on new educational opportunities featuring grain supply chain field trips throughout the United States and applied agricultural sales training focused on professional sales and marketing for agriculture and related industries.

IGP also provides training on proper grain storage and handling techniques taught by Carlos Campabadal, Feed Manufacturing and Grain Quality Management Curriculum Manager and Spanish Outreach Coordinator. Campabadal has extensive international feed manufacturing experience and travels worldwide, providing assistance and education for grain handling, storage, and feed manufacturing challenges in developing countries.

State-of-the-Art Facilities

The IGP Institute Conference Center offers multiple technology-enabled classrooms, dining facilities, a grain grading lab that meets USDA standards, and a large auditorium featuring simultaneous language translation capabilities. The complex is also home to the commercial-scale Hal Ross Flour Mill, O.H. Kruse Feed Technology and Innovation Center, the Bio-processing and Industrial Value-Added Products (BIAVP) Innovation Center, and laboratories for flour and dough testing and baking. As part of the KSU Department of Grain Science and Industry, the IGP Institute leverages the department’s unique diversity of resources.

“To meet our mission, we have many value-added tools and multi-disciplinary faculty to aid our focus on technical assistance, including millers, bakers, feed scientists, food scientists, grain storage specialists, and economists,” said Thiele. “We also utilize resources from the industry, as needed, to ensure top experts are teaching the respective material.”

Located in the heart of hard red winter (HRW) wheat country, IGP’s proximity to the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, wheat farmers, grain elevators, commercial flour and feed mills, commercial bakeries, USDA-ARS, and the Federal Grain Inspection Service all allow course participants to experience and learn from the full spectrum of the wheat supply chain.

Thiele adds that IGP’s partnerships help make its programming successful.

“U.S. Wheat Associates, the Kansas Wheat Commission, and other supporting commodity organizations are critical to what we do,” said Thiele. “In addition to financial support, the value of our relationship with industry partners and the donation of their time and materials is difficult to quantify.”

Every year, USW sponsors international customers to attend IGP courses focused on grain purchasing and flour milling. In 2022, IGP hosted USW technical staff for a core competency training session and is planning on hosting a USW advanced flour milling course for South Korean millers utilizing U.S. wheat.

USW Core Technical Training at the IGP Institute 2022

Technical Training. USW technical staff visited the IGP Institute in March 2022 for a core competency training session.

“IGP provides a good learning environment and experienced instructors that help millers lay a solid foundation for milling U.S. wheat,” said Boyuan Chen, USW Country Director for Taiwan.

Past course participants agree.

“The program helped us improve our flour milling operations,” said Vangala Ravindra from Pure Flour Mills in Nigeria. “We understand the different U.S. wheat variety characteristics, their end-uses, and impact on milling extraction and flour quality.”

Nestor Morales, from Gold Mills in Panama, attended an IGP grain purchasing course last month and is already beginning to implement what he learned.

“The staff at IGP was phenomenal. I now have a very good impression of the quality assurance that exists in the entire U.S. wheat value chain,” said Morales. “This course has the potential of improving our buying practices and better understanding the market in greater detail.”

IGP continues to look for ways to better reach U.S. wheat customers by working with industry partners and educational resources to expand on virtual and on-location training options. Recently, IGP has expanded its curriculum by adding new courses focused on the science of baking. These feature hands-on training and are taught by grain science department faculty with years of commercial baking industry experience.

Thiele said that IGP is expanding those opportunities by using innovative and engaging virtual learning platforms to record key topics that are typically only offered on-site. These new training lectures and courses will build on IGP’s virtual and on-demand training options.

“Our goal is that these tools are the first step toward customers saying, ‘wow, this is something that I need to invest more in,'” said Thiele. “At the end of the day, the biggest benefit is being in person at IGP to get the full experience and build long-lasting relationships. Nothing can replace that face-to-face interaction.”

Learn more about the IGP Institute and its programming and services at https://www.grains.k-state.edu/igp/.

By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Director of Communications


Read about other USW educational partners in this series:

Northern Crops Institute Continues Tradition of Adding Value to U.S. Spring Wheat and Durum
Wheat Marketing Center Creates Educational Bridge Between U.S. Wheat Farmers And Customers
Wheat Foods Council Is A Leading Source Of Science-Based Wheat Foods Information

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A draft report on what would be needed to replace the benefits of the four Lower Snake River dams and locks was released June 9, 2022, for public comment through July 11, 2022. The report, conducted on behalf of Sen. Patty Murray and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state, suggests that breaching these dams to prevent the extinction of native salmon and replacing the benefits of barging and hydropower could cost between $10.3 billion and $27.2 billion.

Pacific Northwest (PNW) agricultural and commercial organizations responded to the report with serious concerns. A coalition of Republican members of Congress also introduced legislation that would protect the dams, arguing their benefits are irreplaceable.

No Dams, No Barges

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) strongly supports the sustainability and reliability of wheat transportation by barge. The Columbia Snake River System is an essential part of a logistical system that moves more than half of all U.S. wheat exports every year to more than 20 Pacific Rim countries. Wheat loaded and barged on the Snake River makes up 10% of all U.S. wheat exports.

The Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA) questioned a number of baseline assumptions in the new report, including that the future value of the dams will decline and that all losses from dam breaching can be mitigated or compensated.

For example, PNWA Executive Director Heather Stebbings said in a news release that there are significant gaps in the report as it relates to understanding the reality of shifting wheat and other grains from barges to rail and trucks. This would require a massive investment in new infrastructure and likely increase wheat export basis with significant negative impact on regional farmers, the efficient Pacific Northwest export system and, ultimately, overseas wheat buyers.

Barge loading on Snake River

An estimated 10% of total annual U.S. wheat exports passes through the four locks and dams on the Lower Snake River between Lewiston, Idaho, and terminals like this one, to its confluence with the Columbia River and on to export elevators.

Serving Asia, Latin America

The Port of Lewiston on the Snake River, the most inland U.S. port, is uniquely positioned to source wheat from Idaho and other states. River terminals on the Lower Snake serve eastern Washington farmers. That wheat is barged on the Lower Snake River to the six major PNW export elevators serving Asian and Latin American wheat markets. All aspects of the river system are essential for transporting wheat from farm to market. However, barging is the most efficient, affordable, and environmentally friendly way to get that wheat to export locations. For context, one four-barge tow on this river system moves as much cargo as 144 rail cars or 538 semi-trucks.

Economic Value

This Columbia Snake River System transports four classes of U.S. wheat grown by dependable farmers in 11 states. In addition, some of that wheat and other crops for export markets are irrigated with water from the system. And the dams on the Columbia Snake River System generate 90% of the renewable electric power in the PNW.

Sean Ellis, representing the Idaho Farm Bureau, told the Capital Press its members “wholeheartedly” support ongoing efforts to improve salmon runs but continue to “adamantly” oppose dam breaching.

“There is no evidence to support the claim that breaching the dams would save the salmon but it’s quite clear that doing so would have a major negative effect on the region’s economy and put a lot of farmers out of business,” Ellis said.

Map of the Columbia Snake River System from Pacific Northwest Waterways Association

Eight Steps Down. Lock and dam systems on the Columbia Snake River System allow barges to efficiently and safely navigate the 222-meter elevation change from Lewiston, Idaho, to export elevators as far west as Longview, Wash.

“We continue to approach the question of breaching with open minds and without a predetermined decision,” Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee said about their report. “In the coming weeks, we will carefully review and consider public input, tribal consultation, and other engagement from stakeholders before making any recommendations.”

A Necessary Link

The Columbia Snake River System and other major U.S. river systems truly connect the United States to its trading partners. The river system keeps U.S. wheat competitive by moving higher volumes more efficiently. USW, its state wheat commission members, wheat associations and supply chain stakeholders in the tri-state region of IdahoOregon and Washington all support the Columbia Snake River System and will work to see that it continues working for wheat buyers around the world.

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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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Recent news and highlights from around the U.S. wheat industry.

Speaking of Wheat

We strongly oppose proposals advanced by India and other WTO members that would lead to an unlimited allowance of trade distorting price supports tied to public stocks at MC12. This would render WTO rules on agricultural domestic support meaningless to the world’s farmers while benefiting only a few developing countries.” – From a letter to President Biden from U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), National Association of Wheat Growers, North American Millers’ Association and 18 other U.S. agricultural organizations before the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) June 12 to 15, 2022.

2022 Hard Spring Wheat and Durum Tour

The annual Wheat Quality Council spring wheat tour is planned for July 25 to 28, 2022. The tour will provide the first production estimate for the 2022 U.S. hard red spring and durum crops. Tour information and registration are posted here. Customers can follow the tour in real-time by checking #wheattour22 on Twitter. And keep up to date on the entire U.S. wheat harvest with the weekly USW Harvest Report.

U.S. Consumer Attitudes Toward Gene-Edited Food Products

A new report follows up on FMI Foundation research, first published in 2020. It delves deeper into what U.S. consumers want to know about gene-edited food products and who they consider trustworthy sources in addressing biotechnological applications in food. Read the report here.

Comments Filed on U.S. Dietary Guidelines

More than 900 comments were submitted to HHS and USDA on the proposed scientific questions to be reviewed by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) as the next version of the  Dietary Guidelines for Americans is developed. The Nutrition Coalition is urging a close examination of diets low in carbohydrates. HHS and USDA are also expected to look at “ultra-processed foods” and, notably separate from the DGA process, plan to examine the issue of “sustainability and the complex relationship between nutrition and climate change.”

National Wheat Yield Contest Opens for 2022 Contest Entries

The National Wheat Foundation is accepting spring wheat entries for the National Wheat Yield Contest until Aug. 1, 2022. To get the early entry price of $100 per entry, enter by June 15. Winter wheat entries are closed, and there are 260 entries from 26 states. Read more about the contest and how to enter here.

Subscribe to USW Reports

USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

Follow USW Online

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos, and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo, and more on LinkedIn.

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Name: Wei-lin Chou

Title: Asian Products and Nutrition Specialist

Office: USW Taipei Office

Providing Service to: Taiwan


Wei-lin Chou will tell you that wheat is the most fascinating food ingredient in the world, but his fascination with food science first started with starches.

“In elementary school, my science teacher showed us an iodine–starch test. In the lab, he dropped iodine reagent on bread and rice. The iodine reagent changed color from brown to purple-blue,” said Chou. “I was so excited about the color changes. I still remember after that class, I started asking many questions about starch and eventually concluded that almost all the foods I love contain starches.”

Life Lessons

Chou grew up in what he says was an ordinary family in New Taipei City, Taiwan. His district, Shulin, translates to “forest” in Mandarin and is famous for red yeast rice and red rice liqueur that is fermented using spores known as “monascus.” This healthy ingredient provides a natural red color and several nutritional functions to various fermented foods. Despite so many childhood memories tied to food, Chou’s parents did not work in the food industry, but his family has strongly influenced how he views the world around him.

“My parents taught me to treat others with honesty and kindness, always feel grateful and cherish the things we have and harm neither others nor our environment,” said Chou. “They taught my sister and me these lessons by living their own lives this way, so my family has really shaped who I am.”

Wei-lin Chou as a kid with his family

Wei-lin Chou as a kid with his family.

These lessons carried Chou to National Taiwan University (NTU), where he started studying in the nursing department before transitioning to agriculture chemistry. While some might think that is an unusual route to a career in the food industry, Chou believes his experience starting in nursing has helped him further his career.

“Nursing is a career devoted to a human being’s whole life from birth to death, and food is the same. We cannot live without food,” said Chou. “I learned a lot about patience, empathy, respect, communication, and trust-building from nurses. I also learned more about people and their needs at various ages and health situations, whether physical or mental. It now influences the way I support and provide service to customers.”

Building a Career

Once Chou transferred to the agriculture chemistry department, he majored in his true interest – food science. That is where he met his mentor, Dr. Hsi-mei Lai, who emphasized understanding the principles behind testing methods and food processing steps students were applying in their coursework. Chou said he learned from her that collaboration – teaching and sharing with fellow students was the best way to learn. Dr. Lai also regularly took her students to visit food industries and factories, where Chou first experienced interacting with customers and working with them to solve problems.

Wei-lin Chou with member Dr. Hsi-mei Lai

Wei-lin Chou (third from left) is pictured with his mentor, Dr. Hsi-mei Lai (second from left), who took her student out to visit and interact with food industry customers.

Wei-lin Chou teaching at National Taiwan University

Wei-lin Chou (right) taught gluten qualities to NTU’s Agriculture Chemistry department undergraduate students through the most basic hand washing method in the Food Analysis Lab course.

In addition to earning a bachelor’s and master’s in agriculture chemistry, which included a thesis on rice flour properties and applications, Chou received a scholarship from the Ting Hsin International Group to support his post-graduate work.

After graduating, Chou’s first job was as a research and development assistant at Taiwan’s China Grain Products Research and Development Institute (CGPRDI). Established in 1962, CGPRDI is a historic vocational training, research, and development center for several grain and food products that U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has supported since 1964 through its legacy organizations.

Wei-lin Chou research with CGPRDI and USW

The USW Taipei Office cooperated with CGPRDI to research what types of bread were suitable for Taiwan’s aging population. Wei-lin Chou produced the bread samples for sensory evaluation in 2020.

“As a fresh graduate, CGPRDI was the most suitable place to put what I had learned to work. Since rice is the major crop in Taiwan, I extended rice flour and starch research to various food applications in CGPRDI,” said Chou. “This work fortified my knowledge of flour and starch and expanded my point of view about the food industry and mass production.”

Next, Chou worked as a technical sales representative for STARPRO Starch Co., reconnecting with the company that provided him with the scholarship in graduate school.

“I love to have adventures and try new things. This was my first time living and working in a foreign country, first in China for a few months and then Thailand for three and a half years,” said Chou.

Wei-lin Chou in a tapioca field when working in STARPRO

Wei-lin Chou in a tapioca field when he worked at STARPRO Starch Co.

This work took Chou to several new places, primarily focused on providing service to customers in Japan, Southeast Asia, and Europe. He recalls what he learned from the occasional culture shock and how to communicate better and find common ground with his customers.

“I gained a lot from customers with different views that I might have otherwise ignored,” said Chou. “The international experience also taught me to respect differences and that we cannot judge things only from one aspect.”

Working with Wheat

When Chou heard about the opening in the USW Taipei Office, he said he submitted his resume without any hesitation. It was a new opportunity to work with a food ingredient that fascinated him.

“It is distinctive that U.S. wheat has developed six wheat classes for the various wheat products created,” said Chou. “For me, each wheat product is like a harmonious symphony composed of starches and glutens, so beautiful and kaleidoscopic.”

Unfortunately, Chou started with USW in 2020 after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited travel and in-person activities. Still, Chou has engaged in important research to support a developed market where demand for healthy wheat food products is increasing, especially in schools and Taiwan’s aging population.

Wei-lin Chou SRC testing

Wei-lin Chou conducting a series of solvent retention capacity (SRC) tests in 2021.

“To attempt servicing an advanced market like Taiwan, we need to stay abreast of the latest research in wheat processing and food science, or indeed, to undertake it ourselves. Wei-lin’s background gives him the technical tools to ask the right questions, interpret what is out there for our customers, and make original contributions,” said Jeff Coey, USW Regional Vice President for China and Taiwan. “The work is never done, so to bring younger talent into our wheat world is the future of our program.”

While the pandemic has created limitations, Chou has still been able to make meaningful connections with customers.

“As with my previous work, I really enjoy interacting with customers. After our 2021 Crop Quality Seminars [a hybrid event with pre-recorded videos], many local millers, cooperators, and customers contacted me wanting to learn more about starch and pasting properties,” said Chou. “It felt great to be able to provide that technical support and help build on their needs step by step.”

USW staff at core competency training

USW staff at a core competency training in 2022. (L to R) Ady Redondo, USW Manila; David Oh, USW Seoul; Roy Chung, USW Singapore; Mark Fowler, USW Headquarters; Marcelo Mitre, USW Mexico City; Joe Bippert, USW Manila; and Wei-lin Chou, USW Taipei.

Chou has also connected with many of his USW colleagues from around the world who were able to gather in March 2022 in the United States for internal training focused on key core competencies.

“USW has so many awesome technical experts with specialties in milling, baking, and more,” said Chou. “It was so nice to get acquainted with so many colleagues and cooperators. They are all passionate about their work and happy to share their experiences. I enjoy working and interacting with these dependable people.”

Seeking Harmony

In all aspects of his life, Chou is drawn to the things that bring him a sense of harmony and the things that fascinate him, like the colors from the iodine-starch test and the versatility of wheat as a food ingredient. He sees a synergy between those things and his love for music which he says continues to teach him about teamwork and what brings people together.

Wei-lin Chou in his high school marching band

Wei-lin Chou was a percussionist in his high school marching band.

“I grew up playing in my high school marching band, and that is a group where every member is important and must be fully coordinated. If any member fails in the performance, the music and the formation will be a mess. The team members need to help each other and grow together,” said Chou. “Everyone sometimes needs to sacrifice a little bit to achieve a greater goal. We, technologists, do the same—we are the bridge that connects customers and suppliers to U.S. wheat. That is what makes U.S. wheat so reliable.”


By Amanda J. Spoo, USW Director of Communications

Editor’s Note: This is the tenth in a series of posts profiling U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) technical experts in flour milling and wheat foods production. USW Vice President of Global Technical Services Mark Fowler says technical support to overseas customers is an essential part of export market development for U.S. wheat. “Technical support adds differential value to the reliable supply of U.S. wheat,” Fowler says. “Our customers must constantly improve their products in an increasingly competitive environment. We can help them compete by demonstrating the advantages of using the right U.S. wheat class or blend of classes to produce the wide variety of wheat-based foods the world’s consumers demand.”


Meet the other USW Technical Experts in this blog series:

Ting Liu – Opening Doors in a Naturally Winning Way
Shin Hak “David” Oh – Expertise Fermented in Korean Food Culture
Tarik Gahi – ‘For a Piece of Bread, Son’
Gerry Mendoza – Born to Teach and Share His Love for Baking
Marcelo Mitre – A Love of Food and Technology that Bakes in Value and Loyalty
Peter Lloyd – International Man of Milling
Ivan Goh – An Energetic Individual Born to the Food Industry
 Adrian Redondo – Inspired to Help by Hard Work and a Hero
Andrés Saturno – A Family Legacy of Milling Innovation

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

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

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

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

Saturated Soil

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

North Dakota

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

Minnesota

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

Canada

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

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

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The United States sends more international food aid to those in need than any other country. U.S. food aid programs are managed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and include either commodity, cash or food voucher donations. U.S. wheat is typically the commodity utilized the most through in-kind donations.

U.S. Food Aid Programs

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) coordinates the Food for Progress program, which prioritizes countries in need annually. Through the program, the USDA purchases U.S. commodities to donate to priority developing countries where the commodity is sold to support agricultural development projects in those countries.

However, most U.S. food aid is operated by USAID’s Food for Peace office. Title II of the Food for Peace Act is primarily an emergency food assistance program. USAID purchases commodities for Title II from the United States at market price and donates them to meet the immediate nutritional needs of those facing hunger. In other cases, USAID will purchase and donate local or regionally grown commodities or provide market-based food vouchers and cash. The type of assistance varies based on local circumstances and needs.

Currently, the two largest recipients of wheat under the Food for Peace program are Ethiopia and Yemen. Ethiopia receives U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat, while Yemen receives U.S. soft white (SW) wheat, as these two wheat classes best meet the local demand.

USAID programs using SW wheat are most important to the Pacific Northwest, including Idaho. Wheat donations to Yemen represent approximately 30% of all U.S. wheat food aid donations. Although supplies have been tight for marketing year 2021/22 due to weather, the Pacific Northwest has remained a consistent supplier of food aid to Yemen when it is most in need.

Challenges

Under USAID’s food aid programs, cash and vouchers represent most of the aid provided, surpassing in-kind commodity donations in recent years, which account for 40% of aid. USAID’s justification for this preference is that supplying cash and vouchers is more cost-efficient than shipping commodities.

This leads to another challenge in the U.S. food aid programs. Cargo preference policies currently require that 50% of food aid be shipped on U.S.-flagged vessels, imposing additional costs on these programs. A study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) states that cargo preference requirements on shipping commodities for food aid increased costs by about 23%, or $107 million, from 2011 to 2014.

As a result, this requirement limits the amount of funding spent on purchasing U.S. commodities and reduces the amount of food aid that reaches those most in need. However, the costs of cargo preference policies were once offset by a reimbursement program from the maritime administration. This allowed the benefit of maintaining a U.S.-flagged vessel fleet for the maritime industry while keeping more funding in USDA and USAID food aid programs. With the elimination of these reimbursements, the additional costs impact the amount of commodities purchased for food aid programs.

Today’s Crisis and Tighter Wheat Supplies

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started a ripple effect of catastrophic events in the Black Sea region. The unjust attack on Ukraine and its people has increased the risk of food insecurity globally as many countries heavily rely on low-cost wheat from this region. Ports along the Black Sea in Ukraine have remained closed due to these needless attacks, although Russia has continued to export. With Ukrainian ports closed, some European countries, notably Romania, have been helping Ukraine export its grain through its ports.

The Black Sea region supplies around 30% of the world’s wheat exports. Many countries that depend on this region to meet their wheat demand are questioning where they can import wheat from while facing significantly higher costs. The European Union, United States, Canada and Australia are expected to pick up much of the demand but with limits. Although India increased its exports at the start of the crisis, helping meet global demands, India recently announced it would restrict wheat exports over concerns domestic wheat production will not be as high.

The U.S. Wheat Industry’s Commitment

As food costs continue to rise, the impact of a global pandemic continues, and now a war in an important wheat production region will likely push more people into food insecurity across the globe. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the Food Aid Working Group (FAWG), a joint working group between USW and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), are proud of the wheat provided through these food aid programs and believe that commodities should be kept in these programs. The U.S. wheat industry is committed to food assistance that impacts the most vulnerable populations to provide food security.

By Shelbi Knisley, USW Director of Policy