2023 HRW Wheat Crop Outlook

Farmers exceed expectations for yield and quality despite historic drought.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS) annual acreage

report released in late June, all wheat planted area for 2023 is estimated at 49.6 is estimated at 49.6 million acres, up 9% from
2022, a significant rebound from the fifth lowest all-wheat planted area since records began in 1919.

The 2023 winter wheat planted area, at 37 million acres, is up 11% from last year but down 1% from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 25.7 million acres are hard red winter (HRW), 7.66 million acres are soft red winter, and 3.68 million acres are white winter wheat.

The USDA NASS August 11 crop production report projects winter wheat production at 1.23 billion bushels, up 2% from the July 1 forecast and up 11% from 2022.

As of August 1, winter wheat yield is forecast at 48.1 bushels per acre (bpa), up 1.2 bushels from July 1 and up 1.1 bushels from last year’s average yield of 47 bpa. Area expected to be harvested for grain or seed totals 25.5 million acres, down 1% from the June 30 acreage report but up 9% from 2022.

2022 Recap

Winter wheat production for 2022 totaled 1.1 billion bushels, down from the 2021 total of 1.28 billion bushels. Yield, at 47 bpa, was down from 50.2 bpa in 2021. Area harvested was 23.46 million acres in 2022, down from 2020’s total of 25.46 million acres.

2023 HRW Crop Condition

In its Aug. 25 HRW harvest summary, Plains Grains Inc. (PGI) reported that harvest had been completed in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, South Dakota, Ohio, Washington, and Oregon. Wyoming and Montana are nearing completion.

Royce Schaneman, PGI executive director. Image courtesy of Plains Grains Inc.

According to PGI executive director Royce Schaneman, “The 2023 HRW crop is a testament to our Land Grant University and private breeding programs in the Southern Plains and the management expertise of our wheat farmers.

“This crop experienced historic drought conditions from planting throughout the entire growing season,” notes Schaneman. “Rains during harvest challenged the crop late, but producers still were able to harvest a crop that exceeded expectations for yield and quality.

“The physical characteristics of the crop are above industry standards. We have seen larger kernel sizes, strong protein levels, and excellent falling numbers. The drought conditions and heat stress did assist the crop in providing higher proteins.

“End-use testing shows absorption and mix times above quality targets. The baking data indicates that bakers will be pleased with overall functionality with higher loaf volumes. Overall, this is a good quality crop in terms of protein quality and baking products."

This table provides comparison details about the protein distributions of the HRW crop from 2019 to present. Results shown are from the Gulf tributary area. Image courtesy of Plains Grains Inc.

Early Quality Notes

Schaneman tells Milling Journal that, as of late August, there have been 456 samples pulled and sent to the lab for evaluation across 34 grainsheds and eight states. The samples are in various stages of evaluation for mill/dough/bake properties, as well as kernel characteristics. Of the samples now in the lab, there have been 59 composites formed by protein and by grainshed.

Early flour data shows a really good crop in terms of overall quality. Down slightly from last year are:

  • Flour ash: 5.4
  • Flour color: 90.6
  • Farinograph absorption: 57.8
  • Development time: 4.9 minutes
  • Stability time: 8.6 minutes

Test weights continue to be good, with an average at 59.8 pounds per bushel and protein still averaging 12.7% as measured by the Federal Grain Inspection Service. Dockage is estimated at 0.8%. Early overall loaf volumes (from the first eight samples) are exceeding expectations, averaging 936cc overall.

Winter Wheat Harvest Quantity by State

Texas: Approximately 2 million acres of winter wheat were harvested, producing 64 million bushels, considerably greater than in 2022. This year’s average yield was 32 bpa. This compares to 30 bpa from in 2022, when 1.3 million acres were harvested with production topping 39 million bushels.

Oklahoma: On 2.6 million harvested acres, production this year reached 70.2 million bushels compared to 68.6 million bushels in 2022 from 2.45 million acres. Yields were 27 bpa this year, down from 28 bpa in 2022.

Kansas: Production is estimated to be 208 million bushels on 6.5 million acres, which is a decrease from 244.2 million bushels in 2022 and 379.5 million bushels in 2021. Yield this year is 32 bpa, down from 37 bpa last year and 52 bpa in 2021.

Colorado: Approximately 1.8 million acres of winter wheat were harvested, producing 68.4 million bushels. Average yield is 38 bpa, up from 25 bpa in 2022.

Nebraska: Winter wheat production is forecast at 37.8 million bushels, up 44% from last year. Harvested area is 840,000 acres, up 2% from last year. Average yield is forecast at 45 bpa, up 13 bpa from 2022.

Montana: Production is forecast to reach 79.2 million, which is 33% greater than the 59.4 million bushels produced in 2022. Average yield is expected to be 48 bpa this year, up from 33 bpa in 2022.

North Dakota: Production is forecast to reach 6.89 million bushels on 130,000 acres with an average yield of 53 bpa. In 2022, production was 5.7 million bushels on 95,000 acres with an average yield of 60 bpa.

South Dakota: Production is estimated to hit 25.92 million bushels on 720,000 harvested acres with an average yield of 36 bpa, a decrease from last year’s level of 37.96 million bushels on 730,000 acres with an average yield of 52 bpa.

Oregon: Production is forecast at 40.15 million bushels from 730,000 acres for an average yield of 55 bpa. The state produced 48.96 million bushels in 2022 on 720,000 acres for an average yield of 68 bpa.

Idaho: Production is forecast at 56.55 million bushels from 650,000 acres, which is an average yield of 87 bpa. Production this year was lower than in 2022: 63.9 million bushels on 710,000 acres with an average yield of 85 bpa.

Washington: Production is estimated to be 93.96 million bushels from 1.74 million acres for an average yield of 54 bpa. This is significantly less than 2022’s harvest that produced 122.4 million bushels from 1.8 million acres.

California: Production is estimated to be 6.8 million bushels from 80,000 acres for an average yield of 85 bpa. This is an increase from the 2022 harvest that produced 5.11 million bushels from 70,000 acres.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC.

For more information on test weight and protein levels, visit plainsgrains.org.