Alarm bells ring over US spring wheat quality too

The rains which have taken their toll on the quality of wheat harvests in parts of Europe and Ukraine may have compromised the US spring wheat crop too, with some concerns in Canada as well.

Early results from the US hard red spring wheat harvest showed specifications in line with last year's average levels, with protein at 13.6% and test weight at 61.5 pounds per bushel (80.9 kilogrammes per hectolitre), according to US Wheat Associates.

The Hagberg falling number was, as of a week ago, coming in at more than 400 seconds, "indicating a sound crop at this time".

However, these readings - taken from only the first 8% of the samples expected to be taken over the harvest - may not prove representative of the final number, US Wheat Associates warned.

'Concern about potential disease'

Indeed, "recent reports from production regions suggest hard red spring wheat protein levels may now be lower than average," said the group, which promotes US wheat exports.

"In some areas, there is concern about potential disease pressure and falling number issues."

The comments follow rains which had, as of Sunday, slowed the US spring wheat harvest to 38% completion from the typical 65% by then, official data show.

The crop was rated 63% in "good" or "excellent" condition, down 3 points week on week and 7 points year on year.

In Canada too, "cool, wet weather continues to delay harvest operations for many producers", officials in Saskatchewan said in a report overnight which estimated combining in the country's main grains province of at 7% complete, half the typical rate by now.

"Many crops have lodged and there are quality concerns with some pulses and cereals," the officials added.

Widespread issue

US Wheat Associates has already warned over the condition of the US soft red winter wheat crop, urging buyers to "pay close attention" to their quality requirements after tests showed a "variable" quality crop.

The crop has the highest levels in at least nine years of vomitoxin, a toxic fungal residue which can in high concentrations render grain unfit even for livestock feed.

And quality concerns have been unusually high in some European Union crops too, including in France, the top producing country, where harvest time was beset by rains which, on ripe grain, encourage sprouting and reduce milling specifications.

In Ukraine, ProAgro has estimated the domestic wheat crop at 35% of feed quality only, up from 25-30% last year.

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