A resilient crop delivers better-than-expected yields and good quality.

Royce Schaneman
Royce Schaneman

The 2023 HRW wheat crop is a testament to the tenacity of American wheat farming. Despite extreme weather conditions throughout the growing season, including record temperatures and droughts, the crop has delivered better-than-expected yields and superior baking quality.

Regions with timely rains and moderate temperatures offer diverse protein levels and excellent baking performance.

Overall, the 2023 crop boasts good milling and baking characteristics, offering millers a wide range of quality and value.

The 2023 planting season faced severe drought conditions, especially in the Southern Plains. Some regions experienced cold temperatures with minimal snow cover. In contrast, the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest enjoyed more favorable conditions.

As the crop broke dormancy in the spring, challenges persisted, with some regions experiencing late freeze events.

While late moisture improved things, it couldn’t add substantial production value to the crop. However, the crop yielded better than expected, with large, dense kernels and higher protein levels. Disease and insect issues were minor in 2023.

Wheat and Grade Data
All composite samples graded No. 2 or better. Some key test data includes:

  • Average test weight: 60.4 pounds per bushel.
  • Average dockage: 0.6%.
  • Total defects: 1.4%.
  • Foreign material: 0.1%.
  • Average shrunken and broken kernels: 0.8%.
  • Average thousand-kernel weight: 30.4g.
  • Average protein: 12.2%.
  • Average wheat falling number: 356 seconds (indicative of sound wheat).
  • Large kernel size dominated the region with 69% testing as large, with higher Single Kernel Characterization System(SKCS) kernel weights and diameters indicate uniform, dense kernels. This is a testament to wheat breeding targets.

Flour and Baking Data
Overall, this crop meets or exceeds typical HRW contract specifications and should provide high value to customers.

The Bühler laboratory mill flour yield average is 75.9% above the five-year average. The 2023 flour ash of 0.50% (14% mb) is comparable to the five-year average.

The alveograph W value of 275 10-4 J is significantly higher than the five-year average and exceptionally high for dough strength. An L value of 110 (mm) indicates very good extensibility.

Farinograph peak and stability times, 4.9 and 8.5 minutes, are higher than the five-year average and are well within industry target ranges.

Other key data includes:

  • Average bake absorption is 58.4%.
  • Loaf volumes achieved an average of 914cc, which is well above the five-year average and surpasses U.S. quality targets.

A Testament to Resilience
The 2023 HRW wheat crop underscores the remarkable adaptability and resilience of U.S. HRW wheat to deliver exceptional quality attributes and performance despite extreme climate challenges, indicating the robust nature of HRW wheat.

Plains Grains, Inc. (PGI) analysis underscores the potential of HRW wheat as a reliable source of high-quality flour for your wheat-based products.

These findings suggest that HRW wheat, which accounts for approximately 40% of total U.S. production, is well-equipped to meet the stringent demands of the milling and baking industry.

Royce Schaneman is executive director of PGI, which was formed in 2004 as a private nonprofit entity that is supported 100% financially by the states’ wheat commissions across the United States.

PGI operates in 12 states and pulls wheat samples yearly from approximately 500 elevators at various locations when at least 30% of the wheat harvest has been completed. The organization tests wheat in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

About 95% of these samples are analyzed by the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory in Manhattan, KS, where Brad Seabourn, research chemist supervisor, oversees this testing program. The balance, or 5%, of the samples are tested by Great Plains Analytical Lab, Kansas City, MO, because of its specialized equipment, such as gluten testing.

The testing information gathered by PGI also is used extensively by the U.S. Wheat Associates for its crop quality seminars around the world.

For more information, go to plainsgrains.org.

Click Here to view HRW Wheat charts.

PGI facilitates quality testing on a “grainshed” basis. Grainsheds are defined by identifying key loading facilities and outlining the production region which contributes to that facility’s grain supply. By defining the production areas in this manner, PGI’s survey is able to more accurately represent and determine the quality of wheat that will come from a specific regional terminal, thereby giving buyers a truer picture of the product available to compose a shipment of HRW wheat. Graphics courtesy of PGI.