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U.S. hard red spring wheat farmers produce good, marketable crop, but export demand is lackluster

High U.S. wheat prices relative to the world market and a strong U.S. dollar have slowed exports, although in late October, the United State had a more competitive position, said Erica Olson, North Dakota Wheat Commission market developer and researcher manager.

A woman with a brown blouse and black pants is next to a whiteboard.
Erica Olson, North Dakota Wheat Commission market development and research manager, gave an overview of the U.S. hard, red spring wheat crop at the Crop Outlook and International Durum Forum held Nov. 2-3, 2022. Photo taken Nov. 3, 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
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MINOT, N.D. — The 2022 hard red spring crop yielded well, was disease free and, overall, will be a good crop to market, said Erica Olson, North Dakota Wheat Commission market developer and researcher manager.

Olson gave an overview of 2022 hard, red spring wheat production at the Crop Outlook and International Durum Forum annual meeting held Nov. 2-3 in Minot, N.D.

The number of hard red spring wheat acres planted in the northern Plains and Montana in 2022 decreased by 5% because of cold, wet weather conditions in the spring, but the number of harvested acres increased by 2% over 2021, Olson said. In 2021, hard, red, spring wheat farmers in drought areas abandoned drought-impacted acreage because they didn’t believe it was worth harvesting the crop, she said.

There were 5.3 million acres harvested in North Dakota in 2022, up from 5.2 million in 2021; 2.7 million acres in Montana in 2022, up from 2.2 million in 2021; 1.16 million acres in Minnesota, the same as in 2021, and 730,000 in Montana, a 140,000 acre increase over 2021, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Growing conditions in North Dakota and Minnesota, where it was wet this spring and had rains until July were good, but much of Montana and South Dakota were dry from spring planting until August, Olson said.

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Yields in all four states were significantly higher than last year, according to NASS.

In Minnesota, 2022 yields averaged 56 bushels per acre, 8 bushels per acre higher than in 2021. North Dakota yields averaged 52 bushels per acre this year, an 18.5 bushels increase over last year. Montana 2022 yields averaged 28 bushels per acre, 11 bushels per acre more than in 2021. South Dakota average yields were 44 bushels per acre, 15 bushels per acre higher than last year.

Dry conditions during the 2022 growing season resulted in a disease-free hard, red spring wheat crop, and most farmers had their wheat harvested by mid-September, Olson said.

The test weight of the 2022 hard red spring wheat crop, which is estimated to be 61.3 pounds per bushel, is slightly lower than last year’s test weight of 61.5 pounds and the five-year average of 61.6 pounds per bushel, Olson said. This year’s higher yields resulted in slightly lower protein. The 2022 crop’s protein is pegged at 14.2%, 1.3% lower than 2021 and 1.2% below the five-year average.

Wheat kernels fill the space.
Northern Plains hard red spring wheat farmers produced a good quality 2022 crop that yielded well.
Kristin Lykins / Grand Vale Creative LLC

Overall, the 2022 hard red spring wheat crop is a “good crop to sell,” Olson said.

On the demand side, U.S. mills are using more hard red spring wheat because of higher prices for hard red winter wheat, which have risen as a result of drought-reduced reduced production. Last year, when hard red spring wheat production was drought reduced, the price of that crop rose, so mills used more hard red winter wheat, Olson said.

On the export side, wheat exports are projected to be higher in the 2022-23 marketing year, but, so far have not been, Olson said. In the 2021-22 marketing year, the United States had exported 463 million bushels of wheat as of Oct. 20, compared with 433 million by that date in 2022, a 7% decline.

High U.S. wheat prices relative to the world market and a strong U.S. dollar have slowed exports, although in recent weeks the United States has had a more competitive position, Olson said.

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Buyers of U.S. hard red spring wheat, such as the Philippines — a country that has been a good customer — are buying hand-to-mouth because of the world political climate, inflation and concerns about the economy. Japan, another U.S. customer, is purchasing wheat from Canada, Olson said.

Other factors that will influence the wheat market are the drought in Argentina and the Australian wheat crop, which is estimated to be large but could have crop quality problems because of rain and drought.

Uncertainty about economics, food inflation and the Russian War with Ukraine will keep wheat markets volatile, Olson said.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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