Millers from Sub-Saharan Africa get a virtual sneak peek at the Kansas wheat harvest

Posted July 1, 2021

Milling industry representatives from across Sub-Saharan Africa received a virtual peek at the 2021 Kansas wheat harvest during a June 24 virtual trade team. The event was moderated by Aaron Harries, VP of research and operations for Kansas Wheat, and held in cooperation with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the industry’s export market development organization, and the Nebraska Wheat Board.

Each year, about half of the Kansas wheat crop is exported, emphasizing the importance of informational exchanges like this webinar for keeping current and future customers informed on crop progress, condition and trade flows. Approximately 45 milling industry representatives from throughout the Sub-Saharan Africa region attended the virtual event, including Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda and Liberia.

“There is a bond that our farmers hold with customers in the Sub-Saharan African region, and we welcomed this opportunity to bring them to Kansas virtually,” said Justin Gilpin, Kansas Wheat CEO. “Sharing as much information as possible directly with buyers — early and often during the Kansas wheat harvest — is a priority for us.”

Chad Weigand, USW regional director for Sub-Saharan Africa, based in Cape Town, South Africa, said the virtual format has allowed USW to expand market and crop updates to more participants from more countries across the region while maintaining targeted training webinars for specific countries or companies.

“These webinars are much appreciated by our buyers,” Weigand said. “While webinars can’t fully replace in-person visits, this has been one the advantages of the webinars — getting a greater number of participants from multiple countries throughout the region that might not have been able to go on a trade team.”

During the virtual trade team meeting, African customers heard from experts in the U.S. wheat marketing chain. Gilpin and Royce Schaneman, executive director of the Nebraska Wheat Board, provided insights on the Kansas and Nebraska wheat crops, respectively. Kansas State University’s Wheat Extension Specialist Romulo Lollato walked through the 2021 growing season and its impacts on the 2021 Kansas hard red winter (HRW) wheat crop, while Eric Sperber, the general manager/CEO of Cornerstone Ag in Colby, discussed the 2021 hard white (HW) wheat crop and specific market logistics for HW exports. Matt Murphy, wheat line manager with The Andersons, Inc., provided insights on the U.S. and global grain trade situation.

With a combine unloading into a grain cart “on-the-go” in the background, Tyler Ediger, a Kansas wheat farmer from Meade, joined in for a live discussion from the harvest field with his young son, Carter. Ediger reported harvest was halfway complete at the time, predicting this year’s harvest may be one of the better crops for his family’s operation, thanks to timely rains, better-performing varieties and enough nitrogen application.

“Hearing information provided firsthand from producers and the grain trade gives buyers greater insight into the production potential, preliminary quality data, and the factors currently affecting the market and prices,” Weigand said. “It’s also giving some of our contacts who may not be very familiar with U.S. wheat greater knowledge about the variety of wheat classes and qualities the United States can provide.”

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Written by Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat