Higher price premiums are attracting more growers to plant club wheat.

Growers see the high premiums and high demand for club wheat, so the Washington Grain Alliance is expecting to see more club wheat planted.

"Last year, the premium didn't start rising until after seeding," alliance Vice President Glen Squires said. "In October, November, December, it started going up. We're expecting next year's harvest to have a lot more club wheat."

The alliance is basing expectations on word-of-mouth reports, Squires said.

In many previous years, there has been enough club wheat with no premiums, so acreage has declined, Squires said.

"In the last two years, club supply has been very tight, so the premium has gone high," he said.

With high premiums, some major club wheat buyers are contemplating purchasing soft white wheat instead of Western white wheat, a blend of soft white wheat and club wheat, Squires said.

Most club wheat is grown in Washington, although some is grown in Oregon and Idaho, he said. Club, a soft wheat, is especially good for making cakes and is prized in countries such as Japan.

To be Western white, at least 10 percent of the mix has to be club wheat, Squires said. Some customers prefer 15 percent or, in the case of Japan, 20 percent.

Because it's early in the marketing year, Squires said, it remains to be seen how the year will unfold, he said.

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Matthew Weaver

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