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Hard White Wheat Special Edition Harvest Report 2023


By Marsha Boswell, Kansas Wheat VP of Communications


This Hard White Wheat Special Edition of the Kansas Wheat Harvest Reports is brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Grain and Feed Association and the Kansas Cooperative Council.

Hard white (HW) winter wheat varieties continue to be popular among some western Kansas farmers for their high yields, disease resistance and quality. Kansas Wheat continues to work with the grain handling industry and Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) to revise the grain standards to facilitate the movement of hard white wheat in domestic and international markets and lessen the burden on grain handlers. 

Hard white wheat had been growing in export demand, primarily to Nigeria out of the Texas Gulf, but the past several years of drought-stricken production shortfalls have impacted that business for Kansas farmers.

Eric Sperber from Cornerstone Ag in Colby, who has been trading hard white wheat since the late 1990s, said, “We’ve never matched up demand with supply. Either there’s more demand and not enough supply, or more supply and not enough demand.” He said, “Unless we can get Nigeria back, it’s hard to market hard white wheat.”

Although Sperber anticipates less than 10 percent of their receipts to be hard white wheat this year, down from years past, he’s pleased with the excellent quality and quantity of wheat in the area. 

Wheat coming into his location, both hard red and hard white, have test weights of 60+ pounds per bushel, protein averaging about 12 percent, and variable yields that will likely end up above average overall. Most farmers in his draw area of Rawlins, Thomas, Sheridan and Logan counties have been “pleasantly surprised” by this year’s wheat harvest.

Hard white wheat makes up 16.3 percent of planted acres in west central and southwest Kansas. Joe is the top seeded hard white wheat variety, making up 8.4 percent of planted acres in southwest Kansas and 7.9 percent in west central Kansas. Overall, hard white wheat was seeded on 4.3 percent of Kansas’ 7.7 million acres, accounting for 331,100 acres seeded to hard white wheat in the fall of 2023. KS Big Bow, being the most recent HW release and projecting to be a Joe replacement with higher yield potential, better disease package and milling and baking quality.

Overall, the quality of this year’s hard white wheat crop is excellent, in line with the quality of this year’s hard red winter wheat crop.

The Millershaskis from Lakin in Kearny County are growing both Joe and KS Big Bow, hard white wheats from the Kansas Wheat Alliance, this year.

Gary Millershaski reports that their “test weights have been unbelievable, 60 to 65 pounds per bushel.” They have very good sized berries and clean samples.

They have not tested for protein because the elevators in the area do not pay for protein.

In February, the crop looked fantastic. Kyler Millershaski said he was excited to topdress because it was looking so good.

They got a really good stand on all their acres last fall, and even had snow cover over the winter. 

But, then the spigot turned off and they received no more moisture until late May.

“I had higher hopes,” Kyler said. “It’s disappointing.”

Even with the lack of moisture in the spring, their farm will average approximately 28 bushels per acre, down from an average in the mid-40s.

They received a major hailstorm, which resulted in one field being a total loss and a few others with yields of only 10 to 20 bushels per acre.

They haven’t had any issues with wheat streak mosaic virus, even though some of their neighbors have it.

“Joe has been such a good staple for this area,” Gary said, referencing its wheat streak resistance.

Like Millershaskis’ operation, the Suppes’ in Lane County see farming as a family affair.

Ron, his son Shane, nephew Jace, and a skilled group of hired hands started cutting their hard white winter wheat crop on June 18. With dry weather, they expect to finish in the next seven days. They were using stripper headers, which maximize the use of straw left behind for moisture conservation and weed management.

This year they planted Joe and KS Big Bow and have been pleasantly surprised by their resilience to the spotty weather they have had. They gave some credit to timely rains during the grain filling period. 

The family was happy to report an average of 50 bushels per acre and proteins at 12.5 percent. Their wheat crop this year faced some pressure from wheat streak mosaic virus which put a damper on yields, but was not a huge factor due to the advancements made by wheat research.

“It’s the genetics shining through,” said Jace as he reflected on this season’s challenges.

Stewart Whitham, who farms near Leoti, in Wichita County said there was a tremendous amount of variability potential in this crop, just a few weeks before getting started cutting. 

Over the course of the weeks leading up to harvest, grain filling weather was ideal, which allowed for his crop to be “better than expected.”

Whitham’s crop of KS Big Bow had average test weights of 62.7 pounds per bushel, with protein averaging 13.2 percent. 

U.S. Wheat Associates produces an annual Crop Quality Report that includes grade, flour and end-product data for all six U.S. wheat classes. The 2024 Annual Wheat Quality Report will be available at

The 2024 Harvest Report is brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Grain and Feed Association and the Kansas Cooperative Council. To follow along with harvest updates on Twitter, use #wheatharvest24. Tag us at @kansaswheat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share your harvest story and photos.