Early Harvest Shows Low Protein Levels in Wheat


The advancing U.S. winter wheat harvest is uncovering weak protein levels in the Southern Plains, a disappointment to growers and end users.

Producers and handlers have been “very disappointed” in protein levels from cutting in Oklahoma and Texas, two major producers of hard red winter wheat, according to Plains Grains, a non-profit marketing organization. HRW wheat, grown in the central and southern Plains, is used to make bread.

Early testing indicates average protein content at 11.5 percent, Plains Grains said. Optimum temperatures and moisture during later stages of crop development reduced stress on plants, which raises protein levels.

The results include samples from northern Texas and far southwestern Oklahoma, where harvest is well past 50 percent complete, according to Plains Grains. Overall, cutting is about 30 percent complete in Texas and 25 percent complete in Oklahoma, the group said.

Harvest was seen as just 1 percent complete in Kansas, where there are hopes for stronger protein levels. Kansas is typically the country’s top wheat-producing state.

OK Coop Grain Co. in Kiowa, Kan., has taken in about 400,000 bushels of wheat so far, general manager Ron Hansen said in a report issued by Kansas Wheat, a producers group. Protein is averaging 11.8 percent across all locations, and test weights average 62.7 pounds per bushel. Test weights, another indicator of quality, have generally been strong so far in the southern Plains.

Farmers this year are focused on quality and protein content, in particular, because last year’s crop had below-average protein. End users, such as bakers, need good protein levels to make food products.

Protein content for the total HRW wheat crop last year averaged 12.1 percent, below the five-year average of 12.5 percent, according to U.S. Wheat Associates, a trade group. The average U.S. HRW wheat yield in 2009, when production was slashed by dryness, was 35 bushels, with an average test weight of 60.6 pounds per bushel.

Strong yields have been reported in most areas this year, Plains Grains said. Cool temperatures and timely moisture during grain formation were major contributing factors to producing a big crop, according to the group.

Indeed, many delivery locations in north Texas and southwest Oklahoma are full of wheat, Plains Grains said. Space is “critical” because there is very little movement of grain to export locations, the group said.

Harvest is underway along the Oklahoma-Kansas border but been slowed by rains. Farmers are sampling wheat fields, but most are too wet to harvest, said Lloyd Ohl, location manager of the Farmers Coop Equity in Medicine Lodge, Kan.

One producer in the area cut several thousand bushels and estimated a 40-plus bushel per acre average, with test weights averaging about 62 pounds, according to Kansas Wheat. Protein values have not been tested yet, the report said.

Harvest is just starting in Comanche County, with one producer bringing in wheat that averaged more than 60 pounds per bushel in test weight, said Jay Sherman, branch manager of the Farmers Co-op in Coldwater, Kan. He said area elevators were bringing in wheat averaging 12 percent protein, although he had not received any protein results from his harvest.

Around Harper, Kan., test weights range from 61 to 63 pounds per bushel yet, said Martin Schmidt, manager of the Anthony Farmers Co-op. No yields or protein levels had been recorded.


Source: DTN Progressive Farmer

Posted by Kaci Switzer

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