Courtesy of “Genesee” Joe Anderson
BOISE — Idaho’s wheat growers this year produced what many people are calling one of the state’s highest quality crops ever, if not the best ever.
“In the 15 years I’ve been here, this is, in terms of quality, the best wheat I’ve seen statewide,” said Idaho Wheat Commission Executive Director Blaine Jacobson. “The whole state had a good crop.”
That quality was excellent across the state is unique because growers in North and South Idaho grow different classes of wheat for different markets, said Cathy Wilson, director of research collaboration for the IWC.
“It was not the biggest crop but the quality was exceptional,” she said. “There were very few discounts taken this year.”
Idaho farmers produced 90.7 million bushels of wheat in 2017, which is 12 percent less than last year’s total of 102.8 million bushels.
A total of 1.1 million acres of wheat was harvested in the state this year, down slightly from 1.13 million acres last year. Yields averaged 82.2 bushels per acre statewide in 2017, down from last year’s record of 91.4 bushels.
What Idaho’s wheat industry lacked in total production in 2017 was made up for in quality, industry leaders and growers said.
“Our harvest this year was generally pretty good. The quality was especially good,” said Jerry Brown, a southeast Idaho farmer.
Yields were all over the board, but quality was superb, said “Genesee” Joe Anderson, a North Idaho grower. Problems in past years with quality such as falling number scores, test weights and protein levels were not an issue this year, he said.
“Everything we’ve had trouble with (in past years) is right where the customers want it this year,” Anderson said.
Dennis Capson, a merchandiser for Scoular Co., a marketing company that specializes in grain, said, “Overall, especially the proteins of wheat in Idaho were fantastic this year.”
During the IWC’s regular quarterly meeting last week, Columbia Grain Manager Brian Lorentz stressed to the commission’s grower board members how important it is for them to continue to grow a consistently high quality crop.
“We have the markets we have and we’re making the money we’re making currently because we have good quality wheat,” he said. “We’re not growing junk varieties.”
The quality of the entire Pacific Northwest soft white wheat crop was great this year, said Steven Wirsching, vice president of U.S. Wheat Associates’ West Coast office.
“The soft white grain in the Pacific Northwest this year is really good quality,” he said. “Overall, it’s going to average a No. 1 grade.”
Wirsching said the problems some wheat farmers in the Pacific Northwest have had in recent years with falling numbers scores didn’t materialize this year.
“This year, falling numbers is not a problem,” he said. “We just got good weather and good falling numbers to go with it.”