Wheat Quality Is 'Exceptionally Good'

Best traits in years should help win customers.

The 2006 hard red spring wheat and northern-grown durum crop quality is "exceptionally good," and in some cases "the best in years," according to the North Dakota Wheat Commission.

Traits that buyers will appreciate in the hard red spring crop include a regional top average grade of No. 1 Dark Northern Spring with an exceptionally low level of damaged kernels, very high protein content at 15% compared to 14.5% last year, low moisture content and high falling numbers.

For end-use performance the crop shows the best balance in dough mixing strength from east to west across the region in a number of years. The crop is much stronger than 2005 and should be a big factor in helping to win customers. In addition, the crop has improved dough handling properties, higher water absorption and bigger loaf volumes, all important economic factors for bread making.

USDA projects stable domestic demand for hard red spring wheat in the 2005-06 season, at 222 million bushels. The export projection for spring wheat at 265 million bushels is 6 percent lower than last year. Currently exports are trailing a year ago by 18 percent but changing world dynamics are beginning to shift more demand back to the U.S.

The regional durum crop average grade is No. 2 Hard Amber Durum, average test weight of 59.9 was just short of the 60 pounds needed for grade No. 1. The crop has strong average vitreous kernel counts, low damaged kernels and exceptionally high protein. The higher protein and good kernel soundness is producing pasta with stronger gluten properties and enhanced cooked quality.

Demand for durum in the U.S. market is projected at 79 million bushels, slightly lower than last year. Exports are expected to fall by 40% to 30 million bushels due to lower world trade opportunities and record crops in North Africa. Contradicting the projection, current U.S. durum export sales as of Oct. 5 were 14% ahead of a year ago with 16 million bushels.

The quality report is based on harvest samples collected by the North Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service and tested by the North Dakota State University Plant Sciences quality laboratories. Spring wheat samples are gathered from North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota, representing 91% of the nation's spring wheat production. Durum samples are collected from North Dakota and Montana, covering 71% of the nation's durum production in 2006.

Funding and support for the U.S. hard red spring and durum regional quality surveys is provided by U.S. Wheat Associates, the North Dakota Wheat Commission, Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council, Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, and South Dakota Wheat Commission

The 2006 hard red spring and durum wheat crop quality reports are posted on the North Dakota Wheat Commission's Web site, www.ndwheat.com.  
- Source: North Dakota Wheat Commission

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