Excellent HRW quality report from USW compensates for drought-limited yields

Posted November 1, 2022

Recently released quality information from U.S. Wheat Associates adds a positive note to an otherwise disheartening 2022 wheat harvest — despite the persistent drought conditions that limited yields, U.S. farmers produced one of the highest quality hard red winter crops in years.

“It’s no surprise that the 2022 wheat crop took a hit on volume,” said Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin. “But our milling and baking customers will be very happy with the quality and performance of this year’s harvest, thanks to overall protein, milling yield and loaf volume that are significantly higher than average.”

The 2022 Crop Quality Report is the latest in a series of reports by USW, the wheat industry’s export market development organization. Each year, the organization gathers thousands of samples throughout the harvest season and at export locations to analyze for wheat, flour and end-product qualities. These results are compiled into an overall report for all six wheat classes and broken down into individualized reports by wheat class. For this year’s report, Plains Grains, Inc. and the USDA/ARS Hard Winter Wheat Quality Lab in Manhattan collected and analyzed 524 samples from elevators in 11 states and the California Wheat Commission collected and analyzed 93 HRW samples in its state.

Drought was the limiting factor throughout the growing season. Limited soil moisture at the start of the growing season directly limited the development of tillers, meaning there were fewer wheat heads and fewer kernels per head to fill ahead of harvest. But the lack of moisture also greatly reduced insect and disease pressure. And while there were fewer, smaller kernels, the kernel size was consistent in size, shape and weight, which is favorable for milling yields.

As expected in drought conditions, the average protein content at 13 percent was high and exceeded the 2021 crop and the five-year average. Additional milling and baking characteristics also met these benchmarks, including farinograph peak time, stability, absorption and loaf volume, all of which are strong indicators of the value of the wheat crop to customers.

USW will now take this information to overseas customers through an annual series of crop quality seminars — led by USW staff, growers, wheat commission staff and partner organizations. These seminars dive into grade factors, protein levels, flour extraction rates, dough stability, baking loaf volume, noodle color and texture and more for all six U.S. wheat classes and are tailored to focus on the needs and trends in each regional market.

Kansas Wheat regularly participates in these programs to provide personalized information to each market and receive feedback directly from customers. Starting in early November, Kansas Wheat staff and board members will participate in in-person crop quality seminars in South America and South Asia in addition to virtual programs for North Asian customers.

This informational exchange is important as about half of the Kansas wheat crop is exported each year into a competitive world market. These programs keep current and future customers informed on crop conditions, quality and trade flows.

“HRW sets the quality standard for milling and baking customers around the world,” Gilpin said. “Customers with more information are better customers, and the USW report and crop quality

seminars demonstrate how Kansas farmers continue to provide high-value wheat year-in and year-out.”

Read the full crop quality reports for all six wheat classes at https://www.uswheat.org/crop-quality/.

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Written by Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat