Growers hope to receive premiums for high-quality wheat
By Diego Flammini
U.S. wheat producers planning to enter the National Wheat Foundation’s yield contest will have an extra factor to consider in 2018.
This year, the contest organizers are adding a quality requirement.
“Wheat must be graded #1 or #2 to be eligible for National recognition,” the contest’s rules state. “(The) designated grade will be determined by the Wheat Contest analysis from the grain sample submitted by the grower.”
Producers view the quality component as a way to explore receiving premiums for higher quality wheat.
Brandon Friesen, a grower from Meade, Kan., won the Winter Wheat Dryland category for his 2017 crop, which yielded 115.26 bushels per acre. All of his wheat would have fallen within the quality parameters, he said. He’d like to see commodity markets reward farmers for producing good wheat, he added.
“If (farmers) can prove that we can have high yields and good quality, my goal would be to make a better market for better quality wheat,” Friesen told Farms.com today. “Right now, the markets aren’t much different for good quality or bad quality. Hopefully, with this contest, markets can look at not just the yield but the quality of our yield.”
Going into its third year, the yield contest has already given growers further insights into wheat production.
“We used to think yield and quality would separate when you get higher yields, but that hasn’t been the case,” Phil McLain, president of the National Wheat Foundation, told Farms.com today. “The quality of the wheat tends to go up with higher yields.”
While the contest spurs competition between growers, it also helps farmers and industry representatives share information on production practices.
Friesen’s production methods included applying additional fertilizer, conducting soil samples, increasing his plant population and talking with some of the other 286 growers who competed in 2017.
“The contest lets us try things that we wouldn’t usually do, then talk to other growers about what they’re doing, see what works for them and if those same practices would work for us,” he said.
Top photo: Brandon Friesen, middle, receives his award from Phil McLain, president of the National Wheat Foundation, left, and National Association of Wheat Growers CEO Chandler Goule, right.
Photo: Jennifer M. Latzke/High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal