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2009 Kansas wheat crop yields important quality traits


The 2009 Kansas hard red winter wheat crop exceeded quality expectations, a credit to improved wheat varieties and farmer production practices, according to Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer of Kansas Wheat.

Gilpin cites the annual Wheat Quality Report, which gives domestic and foreign buyers a snapshot of the quality of the Kansas wheat crop. Released by Kansas Agriculture Statistics on Sept. 8, the report (online at http://www.ksda.gov/statistics/) summarizes data from more than 11,500 samples of hard red winter wheat from 49 counties. The samples represent wheat moving by rail in Kansas. Among the findings: average test weight was 61 pounds per bushel, up from 60.4 pounds per bushel last year and the 10-year average of 60.3 pounds. Ninety percent of the wheat samples graded No. 1; up from just 71 percent last year. Wheat grading No. 2 averaged 9 percent, compared to 26 percent in 2008.

Crop quality in 2008 was adversely affected by cases of fusarium head blight in portions of central and eastern Kansas. In 2009, quality concerns are less severe, thanks in large part to mostly¬¬†good growing and harvest conditions throughout the state.

Additional findings from the 2009 Wheat Quality Report include a decrease in protein average, to 11.6 percent from 12.4 percent in 2008 and the 10-year average of 12.2 percent. Moisture content averaged 11.2 percent, down from 11.3 percent in 2008 and 11.5 percent from 1998-2007.

Protein is one of the quality benchmarks to which domestic and foreign millers pay close attention. With this year being a lower protein crop, it is important for producers to know the quality of wheat they harvested, because of premiums emerging in the marketplace. Even with the lower protein, the end-use performance of the 2009 Kansas wheat crop is very good.

"Domestic millers are pleased with the high test weight, which means greater flour yield per bushel," Gilpin explains. "Thus far, flour millers report that the functionality of the 2009 crop is very good. This is a result of good producer management practices and improved quality characteristics of the wheat varieties grown throughout Kansas."

Meanwhile, U.S. wheat producers must compete with farmers around the world who, responding to record high wheat prices in 2008, grew a record world wheat crop of 682 million metric tons. The U.S. typically exports about half its total wheat production, but with such a large crop, the competition is fierce. However, much of the world supply of wheat is low-quality, signaling opportunity for U.S. wheat exports, Gilpin says.

"There is a surplus of wheat worldwide, which is a stark contrast to the historically low supply the world experienced in 2009. However, the U.S. is still the premier supplier of consistent, high-quality wheat to the rest of the world," he explains. "Because of this recent market overcorrection, there is an opportunity for our export customers to buy very high-quality wheat at prices they haven't seen in several years."

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