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SDWC hosts Hard Wheat Forum

South Dakota

The South Dakota Wheat Commission hosted a Hard Wheat Forum titled "Connecting the Dots", June 23 and 24 in Pierre. The purpose of the Forum was to connect the dots all along the value chain for Hard White (HW) Wheat from the field to the center of the consumers' plate.

The Forum was designed to facilitate direct dialogue among wheat breeders, producers, elevator personnel, wheat purchasers and millers, and end-use customers of SD HW Wheat. The Forum featured discussions about HW Wheat production, quality, end use and potential markets and challenges each segment of the value chain encounter. Every aspect of the industry heard from the others as to their situation, challenges and opportunities with HW Wheat.

The Forum opening presentation was by a senior person from a large U.S. Wholesale Bakery Company who gave a baker's perspective about HW quality and quantity expectations for now and into the future. He specifically addressed issues around HW Wheat which is grown by producers in South Dakota. Next, a panel of major U.S. millers presented their perspective about opportunities and challenges for South Dakota Wheat Producers who grow HW Wheat. Following, a panel of First Originators (Elevators) discussed the challenges and opportunities for their industry as it pertained to aggregating, marketing and shipping HW Wheat. The final presentation of the day came from a panel of SD Wheat Farmers with experience of producing HW Wheat who are looking for opportunities for their product. All participants were very frank and open at the Forum and the events that surrounded the meeting.

HW Wheat as a separate class takes special handling and marketing procedures. Public and private wheat breeders have released HW high yielding varieties with much improved milling and baking characteristics. However, acreage for HW wheat appears stagnant or declining. HW accounted for less than 1 percent of SD '08 wheat production. Because of challenges farmers are wary about planting it. Many elevators are reluctant to receive it at harvest time.

Some of the challenges that were outlined were: Where is the domestic market headed? How much production is necessary? What quality parameters are required? Is it a niche or specialty market? Will it grow to a commodity market basis? Does the US Grading Standards of WOCL, CCL need to be addressed?

Still, domestically the trend is moving to whole wheat, whole grain nutrition. HWW with its white flour color and excellent milling and baking qualities fits well into this scheme. Consumer acceptance and end user commitments will influence the market for the HWW. HW wheat will influence the supply and demand curve. At the end of the day, market forces will probably be the best driver of any shift to HW wheat, but all of the industry understands that it may take time.

Sponsors of the Forum were several South Dakota organizations and entities involved with the development and marketing of hard white wheat including South Dakota Feed and Grain Association, South Dakota Association of Cooperatives, South Dakota Crop Improvement Association, South Dakota Foundation Seed, South Dakota Wheat, Inc and South Dakota State University. Field tour sponsors included AgriPro and Bayer Crop Science.

The South Dakota Wheat Commission as main sponsor of this event hopes to have more of these forums in the future where industry can gather to discuss issues that affect all members of the value chain from the farmer's field to the consumer's plate.

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