US winter wheat worst quality in 17 years

Wet weather affecting quality, yield

Some of the first wheat harvested by U.S. farmers in 2015 is the worst in at least 17 years, according to U.S. Wheat Associates.

Heavy rainfall across parts of the Midwest is partially to blame for the poor conditions.

“It was the worst crop we’ve ever had because of the rain,” Kim Holsapple, grain manager for Total Grain Marketing in Effingham, Illinois, which operates about 30 elevators in the state, said in a report. “The wheat we’re getting in now is just nothing but feed quality.”

Farmers will produce 393 million bushels of the soft-red winter variety of wheat this year, down 14 percent from 2014, according to government forecasts.

Heavy rains – about three times the normal amount – across parts of the eastern U.S. and Mississippi River region have prolonged harvests and increased sprout and mold damage.

Farmers are getting discounts of up to $3 per bushel for wheat with quality problems. The soft-red winter wheat is usually used for flour milling for products like cookies and crackers. However, because of the poor quality, much of the grain will be used for animal feed.

In wet weather, there is a higher chance of vomitoxin fungus to develop.