This article on the hard white (HW) wheat crop in Kansas was sponsored by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Grain and Feed Association and the Kansas Cooperative Council.
Hard white (HW) winter wheat varieties continue to be popular among some western Kansas farmers for their high yields, disease resistance and quality. As U.S. wheat importers understand, the biggest challenge for hard white is market liquidity and continuity of trade into the marketplace.
Kansas Wheat continues to work with the grain handling industry and Federal Grain Inspection Service to revise the grain standards to facilitate HW movement in domestic and international markets and lessen the burden on grain handlers. For additional information on Kansas Wheat’s comments submitted to FGIS, visit https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/10/12/2022-22113/united-states-standards-for-wheat.
HW winter wheat is very similar to hard red winter (HRW) wheat apart from a gene impacting the color of the outer bran coat. It can be used for stand-alone whole wheat products with a lighter color or can be used interchangeably by mills with HRW, depending on protein and extraction needs.
Hard white wheat had been growing in export demand, primarily to Nigeria out of the Texas Gulf, but the past two years of drought-stricken production shortfalls have impacted that business.
A Regular Joe
A HW variety named “Joe” is the top seeded variety in west central Kansas, making up 14.3% of planted acres. Hard white wheat varieties also make up 11.4% of acres in southwest Kansas. Overall, HW was seeded on 4.7% of Kansas’ 8.1 million acres, accounting for 380,700 acres seeded to HW in fall 2022. In these areas, the multi-year drought caused many seeded acres to be abandoned, including an estimated 60% of Kansas’ dryland hard white wheat acres.
HW winter and spring wheat is also grown in Colorado, Nebraska, Idaho, and California. The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Hard White Wheat Committee estimates U.S. total hard white wheat production to be just about 463,000 metric tons.
Overall, the quality of this year’s HW crop is excellent. While southwest Kansas had to abandon many acres, HW production increased in areas to the north.
More than Expected
Eric Sperber from Cornerstone Ag, an up-country elevator in Colby, Kan., said they have received four times the HW they got last year. At this point, HW makes up about 40% of their bushels.
“It’s a lot more than I was anticipating,” said Sperber. “It has been a number of years since we [received] this much white wheat.”
Overall, the quality of this year’s HW crop in the Colby area is comparable with the HRW wheat, with test weights ranging from 57 to 60 pounds per bushel, with the average ending up on the lower end with the delayed harvest. Earlier-harvested HWhad higher test weights, which has decreased after last week’s rain. Proteins consistently averaged 12.5% (12% moisture basis).
Results from the 2023 Hard White Wheat Quality Survey will be available from U.S. Wheat Associates and other sources online in October.