Commenting on his participation in the 2021 Wheat Quality Council Hard Spring and Durum Tour completed July 29, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Market Analyst Michael Anderson said “variable” was the word of the week.
“The crop condition varied across North Dakota, across counties and even across every 10 miles we traveled,” Anderson said. “We would see one nice looking field with wheat up to my waist then see sparse fields with stalks below my knee.”
USW Vice President of Programs Erica Oakley noted the variability in crop maturity.
“Most of the fields in the south and central areas of North Dakota will be ready for harvest within a week,” she said. “But as we moved north along the U.S.-Canada border, those fields were 4 to 6 weeks from harvest.”
It will come as no surprise that the tour confirmed that the U.S. hard red spring (HRS/DNS) wheat and northern durum production will be down significantly for 2021/22. The tour’s HRS yield estimate was 29.1 bushels per acre (bu/a) compared to the 2016 to 2019 tour average of 47.5 bu/a. The tour’s durum yield estimate was 24.3 bu/a, slightly higher than the tour’s durum yield estimate of 23.3 bu/a in 2008.
There is Good News
However, there seemed to be much less variability with what tour participants said about HRS/DNS quality.
Wheat Quality Council Executive Director Dave Green said even in the driest area of North Dakota, kernel quality looked good. Josh Longtin with Miller Milling Company told the Red River Farm Network that, “on a positive note, we hardly saw any quality issues, which is good for millers.”
“We saw many fields where the wheat was short, but the kernels were round and plump,” said Oakley. “So, the general consensus is the quality will be there – it is just a matter of how much wheat there will be.”
Wheat farmer and USW Director representing the North Dakota Wheat Commission Phil Volk was on tour and shared this observation with Progressive Farmer: “The bottom line is that we want our foreign customers to see that we will do our best to get them the best wheat possible, even with the drought conditions.”
Every year, the Wheat Quality Council hosts the HRS and durum crop tour in North Dakota, bringing together participants from across the industry, including millers, traders, farmers, researchers, government officials and media. These participants travel in small teams along eight distinct routes covering most of the state’s wheat production, as well as into parts of South Dakota and Minnesota. The 2020 tour was canceled due to COVID-19. During the three-day tour this year, 43 participants inspected 273 fields. When scouting fields, participants measure yield potential, determine an average for the day’s route and estimate a cumulative daily tour average when all scouts come together again in the evening. The tour is also a tool to help educate a broad range of stakeholders about wheat production challenges.
USW is always pleased to send colleagues to the Wheat Quality Council tours. Michael Anderson and Erica Oakley have participated in other tours, but this was the first time for USW Programs Coordinator Catherine Miller.
“The tour was an incredible learning experience,” Miller said. “I got hands-on knowledge of the new spring wheat crop and the chance to meet so many new people from our shared industry. I have a much stronger appreciation for the challenges our farmers face every year to produce quality wheat for people here and around the world.”
USW is happy to share several photos from the tour here and thanks to Dave Green and the Wheat Quality Council for bringing the U.S. wheat industry together again.
USW will continue monitoring crop conditions and sharing updates in its weekly harvest report published every Friday during the U.S. wheat harvest season. The 2021 U.S. Crop Quality Report will be published in October. Subscribe here to receive the harvest reports and other crop quality updates directly to your inbox.