The poor quality, as well as quantity, of the US soft red winter wheat harvest was laid bare in data showing that on some criteria, the crop rated at the lowest on data going back more than 20 years.
US Wheat Associates, which promotes US wheat exports, advised buyers “to ensure that their purchases [of US soft red winter wheat] meet their expectations” after highlighting the setback to the crop from unusually wet weather.
The crop, by volume, fell by 14.6% to a five-year low of 388.9m bushels (10.6m tonnes) this year, as a weaker yield compounded the dent from lower sowings.
However, the biggest impact from undue wetness was seen in quality, with excessive moisture fuelling the spread of fungal infections and, in ripe crops, spurring sprouting in kernels which reduces their milling specifications.
The soft red winter wheat crop, the type traded in Chicago, was, unusually, graded 3 overall – below the level needed to meet delivery against futures, without discounts.
On test weight, the crop came in at 56.9 bushels per acre, equivalent to 75.0 kilogrammes per hectolitre, the weakest on data going back to 1994.
On falling number, a measure of sprouting, the crop was estimated at 265 seconds – also the lowest on US Wheat Associates records, and only the second time, after 2013, the reading has fallen below 300 seconds.
The number of damaged kernels, at 3.7%, was also by a distance the highest on record.
And the DON reading – measure of vomitoxin, the toxic residues left by fungal disease – came in at 2.2%, matching last year as the highest since records began in 2006.
The crop did measure better on protein, at 10.0%, in line with the five-year average, and echoing the performance of the 2012 UK soft wheat crop – which was plagued by the second wettest year on record, and ended up with low test weight and falling number readings, but a respectable protein count.
‘Development of diseases’
“Much of the soft red winter wheat growing area received excessive moisture throughout the spring and rain continued to cause lengthy harvest delays in many areas,” US Wheat Associates said.
“Rains encouraged the development of diseases and reduced harvest quality in many areas.”
The data would appear to bode ill for the US chances of strong soft winter wheat exports in 2015-16, after shipments hit a four-year low last season.
In fact, the US Department of Agriculture is forecasting shipments of some 140m bushels this season, up 7m bushels on last season but well below the five-year average of 177m bushels.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/low-quality-of-us-soft-red-winter-wheat-crop-laid-bare–8717.html)