Are You Paid for Your Hard Red Winter Wheat Quality?
Hard red winter wheat (HRWW) is the largest wheat class grown in the United States, with approximately 660 million bushels produced in 2020, representing about 36% of total U.S. wheat production. U.S. HRWW differs from other wheat classes based on physical characteristics such as color, kernel hardness and planting season as well as consistency in producing end uses such as pan and hearth style breads, hard rolls, croissants, general-purpose flour and blending. U.S. HRWW is divided into five numerical grades and a sample grade based on test weight and total defects, reflecting the physical conditions of the sample, and several non-grade characteristics that may affect the wheat’s milling and baking quality including dockage, moisture, protein, falling number, and color. These grade and non-grade characteristics are often used as indicators of the suitability of the wheat for milling and baking, and therefore, represent important factors in determining value.
When a wheat farmer delivers grain to an elevator in the United States, at the minimum, they receive a settlement sheet listing the following U.S. standard grade factors: Test weight, total defects and one non-grade factor — moisture content. Elevators may also report and assign premiums and discounts to the remaining non-grade quality factors, usually consisting of protein and falling number.
With the settlement sheet information, farmers perceive the price they receive for their wheat is based only on the quality characteristics observed on the settlement sheet. The objective of this Center for Agricultural Profitability article is to examine whether farmers are paid for quality characteristics that are not present on the settlement sheet.