Washington Association of Wheat Growers NONPROFIT
109 East First Avenue, Ritzville, WA 99169
Address Service Requested PAID
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PERMIT NO. 32
han are c
The official publication of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers
Volume 54 • Number 3
The official publication of
109 East First Avenue
Ritzville, WA 99169-2394
(509) 659-0610 • 800-598-6890
In association with:
(509) 659-0610 • 800-598-6890
WAWG members visit with Washington State Rep. Brian Blake (far right), a Democrat from Aberdeen,
$125 per year
who is chair of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.
Kara Rowe • email@example.com
(509) 456-2481 Safety Matters
GRAPHIC DESIGN A discussion with the Washington
Trista Crossley • Kara Rowe
AD SALES MANAGER 24 Handled with care
What happens after you
State Dept. of Labor & Industries
63 Researchers go to pot!
Kevin Gaffney • KevinGaffney@mac.com
(509) 235-2715 deliver your grain, and how it
A look at coleoptile length, and why
AD DESIGN gets to your customers
it is vital to a strong wheat plant
Devin Taylor • Trista Crossley
Michelle Hennings • firstname.lastname@example.org 32 Over the river...
A look at the importance of 78 Your Wheat Life
(509) 659-0610 • 800-598-6890
the river system
Address changes, extra copies, subscriptions
Chauna Carlson • email@example.com
(509) 659-0610 • 800-598-6890
Subscriptions are $50 per year
WAWG EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE WAWG President’s Perspective 3
Ben Barstow • Palouse Dialogue 4
Eric Maier • Ritzville
WAWG at Work 8
SECRETARY/TREASURER Policy Matters 16
Ryan Kregger • Touchet
WAWG Membership Form 22
Brett Blankenship • Washtucna WAWG Features 24
APPOINTED MEMBERS Profiles 46
Brad Isaak • Coulee City
JP Kent • Walla Walla Wheat Watch 48
Dan McKinley • Dayton
WGC Chairman’s Column 53
Wheat Life (ISSN 0043-4701) is published by the
Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG):
WGC Review 54
109 E. First Avenue • Ritzville, WA 99169-2394
WGC Reports 58
Eleven issues per year with a combined August/
September issue. Standard (A) postage paid at WGC Wide World of Wheat 74
Ritzville, Washington and additional entry offices.
Contents of this publication may not be reprinted A seagoing vessel gets her load of grain at the CLD-
without permission. Your Wheat Life 78 Pacific export facility at the Port of Portland.
Advertising in Wheat Life does not indicate Advertiser Index 82
endorsement of an organization, product or political All photos are Shutterstock images or taken by Wheat
candidate by WAWG. Life staff unless otherwise noted
2 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
Working for you, friends would be called on for the next bedbug
By Ben Barstow outbreak or the next Dutch elm disease.
In case you hadn’t noticed, meeting season has been in Regulations and politics can be threat-
full swing for more than a month. If you haven’t had your ening. The real danger, the life-threat-
fill, there is still a little time left to get all “meeting-ed up,” ening physical kind, is already here for
especially in the later, wetter areas like where I am. Among some of us, and it is looming just ahead
this year’s slate of offerings, WAWG has sponsored a series for everyone. Be safe out there. In the
of marketing education meetings around the state. I hope rush to dive into spring work, bad things
you took the opportunity to take in one of these sessions, can happen. I know, it is an enormous
as WAWG Marketing Committee Chairman, Dave Harlow, amount of pressure when the neighbors’
has put a lot of work into arranging them. wheels are turning and yours aren’t, but when we are scur-
Of the many meetings, conversations and emails I have rying like mad we increase the odds of an accident. In the
dealt with over the last two months, the ones with the most mad dash or when fatigue dulls the mind or when distrac-
value to all of us have been WAWG’s activity in Olympia. tions and fatigue and overconfidence combine, that is when
We have “trod the hallowed halls” of the temporary of- most accidents happen.
fices (some call it a two-story trailer park) within the state For me, fatigue really hits about the third long day in a
legislature twice so far in our attempts to influence their row, but please be aware of how tired you are every day.
impact on us all. There have been proposals to require not We push ourselves to deny how beat we are so that we can
just a CDL, but 160 hours of training for farm truck driv- keep going. We’ve got to get those extra hours, sometimes
ers. The bills to ban the use of phosphorous fertilizer have extra minutes, in because time can become bushels. When it
been scaled back to exempt agriculture this year, but the is the hardest to do, is exactly when it is most important to
environmental community is not going to give up until take the extra time to be safe. Believe it or not, Washington
commercial fertilizer is a thing of the past. Only time will State Department of Labor and Industries does not want to
tell the final outcome, but your WAWG membership dues investigate a death or injury on your farm.
have made it possible to inject wheat farmers’ views into I confess, I have completely selfish motives for this “safe-
the middle of the process. ty nagging.” We all have more than enough work to get
The overweight pachyderm at the center of every discus- done. None of us needs to come over to your place and fin-
sion in Olympia is the budget. Our state budget picture is ish your work because you have injured yourself, but you
more ugly than a cloudburst on summer fallow. Many sa- know that we will. Be safe, which includes getting the rest
cred oxen will be horribly gored in the next biennium, some you need, out of consideration for your neighbors. None of
will be slaughtered. WSU’s Ag Research Center, the true us wants to shut off the tractor to come to a funeral.
experts every field man and grower re-
lies on, has already been severely bled.
We have all tried to impress upon the
legislature, the folly of sacrificing the
team that draws agricultural progress
Ag research doesn’t happen over-
night, so we have not yet begun to feel
the previous cuts that have already
weakened it, but further cuts will be
to the only people we can turn to with
the next new disease, insect or weed
problem that threatens our livelihoods.
Few seem to grasp the wide-ranging
consequences of cuts to ag research.
Most experts in applied biology are em-
ployed in ag research, and further cuts
there could eliminate the experts that
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 3
Corrections, corrections, corrections Hi Kara,
In our February issue of Wheat Life, Thank you for printing Kriss
we had a couple of mistakes I’d like to Mikkelsen’s sage comments about wind
apologize for and rectify. First, in the generation of electricity (Taking the air
story “Taking the air out of wind genera- out of wind generation, Wheat Life, V
tion” we talked about the different costs 54 No 2). It is very important to get the
of power. We need to correct our use of truth out about wind and solar power,
kilowatt hours. In reality, wind genera- and to get hydro power recognized as
tion costs anywhere from $89 to $129 per “clean energy.” Subsidies and mandates
megawatt hour, compared to hydro- to give wind power priority in the market
power that costs $30 per megawatt hour. are examples of government’s lack of
We also mislabeled the graph on page thought in reacting to climate change.
54. It should have read per megawatt Plug-in electric automobiles are an-
hour instead of per kilowatt hour. Still, the other example. Any increase in electrical
spread between the costs of wind and demand postpones the date when older,
hydro power are substantial. This was a coal-fired generators can be retired. Until
simple error and by no means an attempt other sources of energy are developed,
to blow things out of proportion. these vehicles are in reality coal-powered
Also, in our fun tractor story at the end and their operation results in about the
of the magazine, we mislabeled the AC-M same amount of air pollution as did the
Crawler on page 73. The tractor shown is Stanley Steamer.
actually an old Caterpillar that is still in ...I hope Wheat Life will continue to
good working fashion! present this kind of information and
My sincere apologies for any confusion that you will offer it to other media. The
these mistakes caused. We wish you the public must be informed before they can
best this spring season as tractors begin make smart choices when voting.
to roll and things start greening up! Thank you for reading my message.
Cheers friends, Everett Burts, Wenatchee, Wash.
Kara Rowe, Wheat Life Editor
Wind power generates lots of thoughts After reading “Taking the air out of wind generation” by
Kara, Scott Yates, I have to say I’ve heard this song before by Ms.
Just read your article on wind power and wanted to add Mikkelson. Word for word it was delivered at Inland’s fall
one thought. If we cannot avoid this option, at the very least meeting at Northern Quest Casino.
Congress should enact legislation requiring that all wind But, on page 54 you show graphics of wind vs. solar vs.
machines must be manufactured in the U.S.A. It is our tax dol- hydro stating cost per kilowatt hours...it should have said
lars that subsidize the project. It just might help employment megawatt hours...who wouldn’t be alarmed by this false
and debt reduction to quit sending tax money to Sweden or information.
Denmark or whatever country is building the windmills. But
Don Peters, Davenport, Wash.
perhaps that is way too sensible for those folks in D.C. who
know much more than those of us who are country bumpkins.
Share your comments with Kara via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org,
Tom Baker, Waitsburg, Wash. or mail them to 109 East First Avenue, Ritzville, WA 99169-2394.
Please keep your submissions less than 300 words.
4 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
6 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 7
Taking care of business
Washington my home;
Where ever I may roam;
This is my land, my native land,
Washington, my home.
Our verdant forest green,
Caressed by silvery stream;
From mountain peaks to fields of wheat.
WAWG members outside the capitol building in Olympia, Wash.
Washington, my home.
-Washington, My Home (official state song) 200 faculty positions and supply budgets. Specifically, it is tied
to 40 plant science faculty, 11 entomology faculty and 13 plant
pathology faculty. Cutting these fundamental resources will
They may be forgotten lyrics, but they are the epitome of
mean a cut to critical on-going research. The next time farm-
what your WAWG delegates fought for in Olympia recently.
ers face the newest disease, pest, drought or nutrient defi-
More than a dozen WAWG members travelled across the
ciency, the public research done at WSU will be compromised
mountains and met with about 30 legislators from around the
through future budget reductions. Overall, the message was
state. They met with Democrats and Republicans from their
well-received and legislators agreed on the importance of ag
home districts, as well as legislators from the west side. WAWG
research as a vital resource to the state economy.
members roamed the office halls among other lobbying
groups such as the public school employees, parent-teacher
association and public employees groups. Each group was
intent on saving their interests from looming budget cuts. How much will college
tuition be in 10 years?
On this trip, WAWG had a relatively short list of priorities.
At the top of the list was protecting the Agricultural Research
Center (ARC) at Washington State University from devastating
Further cuts to higher education as a whole will mean a
cuts in the upcoming 2011-2013 biennium budget. Through
complete change in philosophy. “When I went to college,
the work of WAWG and a united effort with other state ag
tuition fees covered about 30 percent of the cost and the
groups, WSU avoided a $2 million cut to the ARC for the re-
state picked up about 70 percent,” explained Jim Jesernig,
mainder of the current fiscal year. Ag research funding at WSU
WAWG’s lobbyist. “Now, with all of the cuts to funding,
is reported differently than other colleges within the univer-
we’re going to witness a complete switch in that equation.
sity due to federal mandate. Because of that, it sits as discre-
70 percent will be covered by tuition fees and roughly 30
tionary funding and is usually looked at first when budgets
percent will be covered by the state.”
need to be cut. Ag research funding, however, is tied to about
8 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
From mountain peaks home.
to fields of wheat.
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 9
WL WAWG AT WORK
WAWG delegates also raised con-
cern over the pending phosphorus
reduction bills that are in both the
state House of Representatives and
state Senate. The bills limit the use
of phosphorus fertilizers by target-
ing turf grass, and they are strongly
opposed by the entire agricultural
industry. As written, the bills have
many flaws including:
• An intent section that inaccurately
claims turf fertilizer is a significant
surface water pollutant that is not
necessary for a healthy lawn;
• Bans the use of phosphorus fertilizer
for forestry, houseplants, shrub beds,
golf courses, sports fields and other
Rep. Joe Schmick (R-Colfax) talked to WAWG members about the next biennium budget and the challenges
ahead. Below, Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) also met with our members. As you can tell by his hat, he is • Bans retailers, including farm stores
an enthusiastic supporter of Washington agriculture. and agricultural dealers, from even
displaying any type of fertilizer con-
At this time the bills exempt agriculture. However, the
industry feels this is the beginning of a very dangerous prec-
edent. Many agree that phosphorus is one of the more stable
elements when applied to the soil. It does not move or leach
away like others. If a ban begins with this nutrient, it may be
difficult to stop future nutrient bans. “This is a measure that
gets the camel’s nose under the tent,” explained Ben Barstow,
WAWG president and Palouse area farmer. “The ‘science’ they
are spreading around the legislature is more like a sales-
man’s testimonial. It would never be accepted as science if
we were talking about registering a pesticide, but it seems to
be plenty good enough if we are talking about handicapping
agriculture,” he said. The basis of any fertilizer mix is nitrogen,
phosphorus and potassium, otherwise known as N-P-K. These
bills would mean a ban on any popular garden fertilizer, such
as a 10-10-10 MiracleGrow mix. The bills do, however, exempt
WAWG also strongly opposed a proposed increase to the
Model Toxics Control Account (MTCA) tax. The increase would
be used to clean up stormwater drainages. The legislators
who proposed the tax are getting around the voter mandated
“no new taxes” ideology by calling it a fee. In reality, it is an
increase in taxes, and it would increase gas prices by about
three cents per gallon. It also specifically targets agricultural
chemicals like herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and fertiliz-
ers. Farmers and the general public already pay a MTCA
10 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WL WAWG AT WORK
tax on all of these products, and
the money is supposed to be
used on environmental cleanup
projects. Instead, the state has
Meet your WAWG officers
been using the $250 million President Ben Barstow, Palouse
generated by the current tax to Wheat Life: Where did you grow up?
help balance the state budget. Barstow: Though I graduated from Lewiston,
WAWG argued that the money to I have always considered Orofino, where I went
fund the cleanup efforts is already to grade school, as HOME. My father had his
there, and that the state should own plumbing business until we moved back to
use the money as it was originally Lewiston when he went back to being a Union
intended. Plumber and Pipefitter—good thing, as it turned
Finally, your WAWG delegation out we needed the lavish health benefits. My
fought against the proposed cuts mother grew up on a farm above Almota, and I
to fair funding. In her proposed spent summers on the farm through most of junior
2011-2013 budget, Governor high and high school. That is where I decided I
Gregoire cuts the Fair Fund from would like to farm.
$4 million to $1 million. The intent Wheat Life: Where do you farm today?
is to provide funding for com-
munity and youth shows, but not Barstow: I used to joke about career aspira-
county fairs. “This wouldn’t affect tions of “finding a Palouse farmer’s daughter who
the biggies like the Puyallup Fair, didn’t have any brothers who wanted to farm.” And
but it would be devastating to our then I did. The joke was on me, because 30 years ago last month it came true.
small county fairs,” explained Eric Wheat Life: What kind of farm do you operate?
Maier, WAWG vice president and Barstow: Same as everyone else in Whitman County: dryland winter
Ritzville area farmer. “They would wheat, spring barley, spring wheat and dry green peas.
have to be completely self suf-
Wheat Life: How about your family?
ficient, and I don’t know if many
of them are able to do that. We Barstow: I still go to Lewiston to have lunch with my 83-year-old father.
owe it to our kids to fight for fair My wife, Janet, earned a degree in Ag Communications from Purdue
funding.” University. She is the curator of the local history and printing museum and
After two long days of pound- much more.
ing the pavement and renewing My daughter, Mary McDonald, graduated from the University of Idaho with
relationships with legislators, a degree in Agricultural Systems Management. We are anticipating the arrival
your WAWG delegates gained the of Lyda Grace McDonald this month! Mary is also the manager of Turnbow Flat
trust of many. WAWG will also be livestock operations.
hosting many of the legislators My son, Tyler, is in the U.S. Marine Corps active reserve and is a student
for the annual spring tour. This at Austin Community College, Austin, Texas. He spent 12 months in Iraq as a
is an opportunity for legislators public affairs officer with the 1st Marine Logistics Group. He also designed and
to visit the farmland of Eastern launched The Convoy, an online news magazine for 1stMLG.
Washington. WAWG educates
Wheat Life: What’s the most influential change/equipment/practice you’ve
them on the landscape and com-
seen develop in the last decade?
mon farming practices. The tour
has proven to be a highly suc- Barstow: Herbicide resistant weeds, or, in the last 20 years, the introduc-
cessful educational tool, and this tion of jointed goatgrass.
year they will be touring through Wheat Life: What goals would you like to see accomplished during your
the Grant County area. While it is tenure as a WAWG officer?
highly dependent on when the
Barstow: The beginnings of a closer and continuing relationship with our
legislature agrees on a budget,
neighboring state grower organizations.
WAWG is hoping to conduct the
tour in June.
12 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 13
Thank you to our WAWG
Doing what matters...
Each month, the Washington Grain Alliance (WGA)— Adams County FSA
an alliance between the Washington Grain Commission Ag Enterprise Supply, Inc.
(WGC) and Washington Association of Wheat Growers Ag Link, Inc.
(WAWG)—works, travels and attends meetings on be- Agri Spray, Inc.
half of Washington’s farmers. Here are some of the key AgVentures NW, LLC
activities from January and February 2011: Almira Farmers Warehouse Co.
Almota Elevator Co.
WGA attended the USW/NAWG winter anderson+company, PLLC
conference in Washington, D.C. Arrow Machinery
Associated Independent Agencies, Inc., Mike Rydbom
Associated Independent Agencies, Inc., Steve Witthuhn
WAWG members and staff made hill visits in Association of WA Aerial Applicators
Washington, D.C., and also met with NRCS, B & R Aerial Crop Care, Inc.
EPA and NOAA Baker Boyer Bank
Big Bend Electric Cooperative
WGC staff travelled to Central America to Blue Mountain Aviation
meet with soft white and club buyers Brian A. Winslow
Brock, Carpenter, McGuire & DeWulf, P.S.
Buck & Affiliates Insurance West
WAWG members and staff travelled to Olym- Capital Press Newspaper
pia to meet with freshmen legislators Central Washington Grain Growers, Inc.
CF Industries, Inc., Ritzville Terminal
WGA members and staff attended Ag Expo, Chipman & Taylor Chevrolet-Oldsmobile Co.
manned a booth and met with area farmers Chris Arnberg Insurance Agency
CoBank National Bank
Colfax Grange Supply Co., Inc.
WAWG held a marketing seminar in Pasco Columbia County Grain Growers
for area farmers Columbia Grain, Inc.
Columbia Grain International
Connell Grain Growers
WAWG members and staff travelled to Conover Insurance
Olympia to meet with legislators Cooperative Agricultural Producers, Inc.
Country Insurance & Financial Services
Crop Production Services, Almira
WGA members and staff attended the annual Crop Production Services, Coulee City
Research Review in Pullman Crop Production Services, Pomeroy
Crop Production Services, Waterville
Davenport Union Warehouse Co.
WGC staff travelled to the Middle East to Dave’s Auto Body & Glass, Inc.
meet with soft white wheat buyers Denise Morris
Department of Natural Resources
Dirk A Glessner
WAWG members and staff travelled to Tam- Doyle Electric, Inc.
pa, Fla., for the Commodity Classic to meet Dr. Douglas E. Hille, D.D.S.
with corn, soybean and other commodity farm- Dr. R. James Cook
ers. Discussion focused on the EPA pesticide DuPont
review process Dusty Farm Co-Op, Inc.
14 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WAWG AT WORK WL
Ed Poe Agency Insurance Reese, Baffney, Frol & Grossman, P.S. USDA-NRCS/WSU
Ephrata Auto Parts Ritzville Parts House, Inc. USDA-Risk Management Agency
Farm & Home Supply Ritzville Warehouse Company Wagner Seed Company
Farmington State Bank Rock Steel Structures, Inc. Walla Walla Farmers Cooperative
Great Plains Rural Community Insurance Services Wash. State Crop Improvement Assoc.
Guinn Enterprises, Inc. S.C. Communications Waterville Family Grocery, Inc.
Hager Seed Processing, Inc. Schaefer Refrigeration, Inc. Whitgro, Inc.
Hermance Insurance Agency LLC Snider Trucking Service, Inc. Whitman College
Hille Spray Service, Inc. Spence Tire Factory Wilbur-Eillis Company
Horse Heaven Grain, LLC SRCC, DBA Agri-Business Council Wilhelm Seed, LLC
Inland Empire Milling Co. SS Equipment WSU Co-Op Extension, Aaron Esser
Jess Ford of Pullman Stonebraker McQuary Insurance, Don McQuary WSU Crop & Soil Sciences, Bill Schillinger
Johnson Seed Stonebraker McQuary Insurance, Kent Meacham WSU Director of Ag Research Center
KD Investors, LLC Summit Capital Management, LLC Jerry Robinson
Kirkpatrick, Utgaard & Perry, P.S. Sunshine Sales & Marketing
L & G Ranch Supply, Inc. Syngenta
Lamont Grain Growers, Inc. T & S Sales, Inc.
Leffel, Otis & Warwick, Todd King The McGregor Company, Tomco
Leffel, Otis & Warwick, Jim Leffel The McGregor Company, Colfax
Leffel, Otis & Warwick, Brian Madison The McGregor Company, Columbia Seed
Leffel, Otis & Warwick, Lance Tower The McGregor Company, Connell
Lewis Clark Terminal, Inc. The McGregor Company, Davenport
Lind Dryland Experiment Station The McGregor Company, Dayton
Lloyds, Inc & Blue Mountain Insurance The McGregor Company, Eltopia
McDonald Zaring Insurance The McGregor Company, Endicott
Michael Jay’s Restaurant The McGregor Company, Garfield
Micro-Ag, Inc. The McGregor Company, Harrington
Mid-Columbia Insurance, Inc. The McGregor Company, Horse Heaven
Minnick-Hayer, Attorneys at Law The McGregor Company, LaCrosse
MK Commodities, Inc. The McGregor Company, Lind
MOHS Properties, LLC The McGregor Company, Oakesdale
Nelson Irrigation Corporation The McGregor Company, Plaza
NW Farm Credit Services, Alan Bafus The McGregor Company, Pomeroy
NW Farm Credit Services, KayDee Gilkey The McGregor Company, Pullman
NW Farm Credit Services, Emily Gordon The McGregor Company, Quincy
NW Farm Credit Services, Ben Holling The McGregor Company, Ritzville
NW Farm Credit Services, Steve Kaufman The McGregor Company, Sprague
NW Farm Credit Services, Alan Kirpes The McGregor Company, St. John
NW Farm Credit Services, Abby VanderPlaat The McGregor Company, Tammany
NW Farm Credit Services, Lewiston The McGregor Company, Tekoa
Northwest Grain Growers, Inc. The McGregor Company, Thornton
Novozymes Biologicals The McGregor Company, Touchet
Nu Chem The McGregor Company, Uniontown
P & P Truck & Trailer Repair The McGregor Company, Waitsburg
Peripheral Vision The McGregor Company, Walla Walla
PNW Farmers Cooperative The McGregor Company, Washtucna
Pomeroy Grain Growers The McGregor Company, Wilbur
Port of Douglas County Thomsen Insurance, Inc.
Primeland Cooperatives Tidewater
Puget Sound Energy, Jay Takemura Tri-Cities Grain, LLC
Puget Sound Energy, Anne Walsh Union Elevator & Warehouse Co.
Rabo AgriFinance US Bank
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 15
Washington wheat farmer
For her superior service to the conservation community
in promoting and leading conservation on private lands,
Nicole Berg-Tobin recently received the national Olin Sims
Conservation Leadership Award.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Chief Dave White presented the award during a special
awards banquet held Feb. 1. It coincided with the National
Association of Conservation Districts’ (NACD) annual meet-
ing in Nashville, Tenn. The NRCS/NACD award is presented
in honor of the late Olin Sims, conservation leader and
NACD president from McFadden, Wyo.
Chief White and Berg-Tobin at the National Association of Conservation Districts’
Berg-Tobin, of Patterson, Wash., serves as the South- annual meeting last month.
Central Area Director for the Washington Association of
Conservation Districts and is a Washington Association of
Wheat Growers’ representative on the NRCS State Technical ily found (about 5 percent incidence) in wheat fields in the
Advisory Committee. She is a third generation wheat farmer Willamette Valley of western Oregon.
and former board chair for the Benton Conservation District. Also recently, I stopped by the Horse Heaven Hills in south-
“Nicole has emerged not just as a top conservationist but as central Washington and found sporulating rust pustules in
a conservation leader,” said acting NRCS State Conservationist several wheat fields. I found them in some fields where plants
Dave Brown. “She is a tireless advocate for conservation and were still small (five to seven leaves without dead leaves) and
gives unselfishly of her time, her energy and her spirit. Nicole where stripe rust was not found last November. Rust severity
is a remarkable conservation steward who leads by example was up to 5 percent of incidence. The rust survived the rela-
and whose roots of devotion run deep within the soil of the tively mild winter. It was aided by the widespread snow cover
land she loves,” he said. during the beginning of December’s cold spell.
Rust will develop fast when weather gets warm (night
temperatures into the 40s F and day temperatures into the 50s
Stripe rust F). Considering widespread infection before the winter, early
application of fungicides will be better for fields planted with
starts developing susceptible and moderate susceptible cultivars. Check your
fields when your area reaches the above mentioned tem-
in the Pacific Northwest perature range. If you see stripe rust, consider spaying with a
fungicide even before your herbicide applications. If no rust
By Xianming Chen, WSU Plant Pathology Department is found, but the planted cultivar is susceptible or moderately
susceptible based on last year’s reaction, the field should be
Wheat stripe rust woke up much earlier this year in the sprayed with fungicide when you spray herbicide. Please con-
Pacific Northwest, and it may not have slept at all in west- sider using the full rate of fungicide at the time of herbicide
ern Oregon and western Washington. Don Wysocki and Jim applications, as the rust has already started early, and this rust
Towne found sporulating rust pustules in a wheat field near season will likely be very long.
Pendleton in northeastern Oregon on Feb. 1. Recently, Mike
Flowers and Chris Mundt reported that stripe rust was eas-
16 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WL POLICY MATTERS
Changes in value added Wisconsin. Members include producers, institutional buyers,
food processors and those from the private transportation
grant program for farmers
USDA Rural Cooperatives Magazine profiled another VAPG
Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced award recipient in 2010. In Reardan, Wash., Columbia Plateau
changes to the Value Added Producer Grant Program that will Producers, LLC, which is owned by 21 wheat-producing fami-
provide additional opportunities for beginning and socially lies in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, was awarded a working
disadvantaged farmers. The changes, outlined in an interim capital grant to expand the marketing capacity of the organi-
rule published in the Federal Register, will also assist indepen- zation. All farmers in the cooperative are committed to no-till
dent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives and agricul- farming which saves fuel, prevents soil erosion and limits water
tural producer groups. It will also support local and regional runoff. The wheat produced is milled into high-quality flour,
supply networks. marketed to bakeries, food manufacturers and flour marketers
in the Pacific Northwest under the “Shepherd’s Grain” brand.
“Improvements to this popular program will create addi-
tional economic and job opportunities by helping owners of Value-Added Producer Grants may be used for feasibil-
small- and medium-sized family farms sell their products in lo- ity studies or business plans, working capital for marketing
cal and regional markets, part of our drive to ‘win the future,’” value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renew-
Merrigan said. “USDA investments such as these are part of the able energy projects. Eligible applicants include independent
Obama administration’s work to support farmers, ranchers and producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural
rural businesses.” producer groups. Value-added products are created when a
producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural com-
The regulations address program changes included in the
modity in the production or processing stage.
2008 Farm Bill. These revisions:
Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA admin-
• Provide up to 10 percent funding to beginner farmers
isters and manages more than 40 housing, business and com-
and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers;
munity infrastructure and facility programs. These programs
• Provide up to 10 percent funding to local and/or region- are designed to improve the economic stability of rural com-
al supply networks that link producers with companies munities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers. They are
marketing their products; also designed to improve the quality of life in rural America.
• Give priority for grants to beginner farmers, socially Rural Development has an existing portfolio of nearly $146 bil-
disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and operators of lion in loans and loan guarantees.
small and medium-sized family farms;
• Extend grant eligibility to producers who market their
products within their state or within a 400-mile radius.
These changes take effect on March 25, 2011. In addition
New USDA mapping tool
to the rule changes, USDA Rural Development is soliciting
comments on the interim rule and the best way to facilitate
shows your backyard
the participation of tribal entities and tribal governments in The USDA unveiled an online mapping tool that captures a
the Value Added Producer Grant program. For information on broad range of demographic, economic and agricultural data
how to submit comments, see page 10,090 of the Feb. 23, 2011, on rural areas across the United States. The Atlas of Rural and
Federal Register. Small-Town America, developed by USDA’s Economic Research
Service, provides county-level mapping of over 60 statistical
USDA Rural Development anticipates a Notice of Funding indicators depicting conditions and trends across different
Availability (NOFA) for Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) types of non-metro regions.
will also be published soon. To learn more about the VAPG
program and how it benefits producers, go to www.youtube. “The new Atlas will complement USDA’s efforts in promot-
com/watch?v=TF2ac0o2mjI. ing rural development and well-being by helping policy
makers pinpoint the needs of particular regions, recognize
In 2010, USDA Rural Development awarded Producers & their diversity and build on their assets,” said U.S. Secretary
Buyers Co-op in Altoona, Wis., a value-added working capital of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. “The Atlas is part of a broad USDA
grant to build a value-added food chain infrastructure, expand initiative to make relevant data easily accessible to the public,
capacity for locally produced agricultural products and help including researchers, journalists, public officials and other
develop markets. The Co-op links local, sustainable farms professionals.”
with institutional buyers in a 12-county area of west central
18 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WL POLICY MATTERS
Nearly 50 million people—17 percent of the U.S. popula- for example, could compare population trends in their area
tion—live in nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) America, covering with counties or states in the Midwest. Maps can be filtered
approximately 2,000 counties. Economic and social challenges to show only counties of a certain type, such as those with
facing rural areas and small towns differ greatly from those af- high levels of manufacturing or with persistent poverty. For
fecting larger U.S. cities. They also vary substantially from one example, this option could be used to show high unemploy-
non-metro county to the next. ment in manufacturing-dependent counties.
The Atlas allows users to geographically compare selected This web-based product assembles the latest county-level
states or regions using data on population, age structure, race statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor
and ethnicity, income, employment, agricultural well-being Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, USDA and other
and other measures. Regional planners in the rural Southwest, federal sources.
20 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 21
Time to take action
With a WAWG membership, you get a tool as important as fertilizer: a vote.
Become a member!
Voting Membership Non-voting Membership
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• Convention registration
WAWG MEMBERSHIP FORM
• NAWG member newsletter Name
• Green Sheet
• Annual harvest print Farm or Business
• One to five people
• One vote per registered member
• NAWG member newsletter City
• Green Sheet
• Subscription to Wheat Life for each State Zip
registered family member
• Two family members
• Each member has one vote Membership Level
• Green Sheet
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Grower and/or Landlord—$125/year
• One individual membership, one vote Circle all that apply: Producer Landlord Individual
• Green Sheet Industry Representative Business Owner
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Please include all member names, addresses and other information on an
attached sheet. Return this form with your check to: WAWG Membership • 109
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to enroll by phone.
22 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 23
h an car What happens after you deliver
your grain, and how it gets to
By Kara Rowe
As a farmer, you partner with your local elevator to ers before it gets to your customer: you (the farmer), your
move your grain to your customer. Because your top cus- local elevator, a truck/barge/rail carrier, the exporter, and
tomers are across the ocean, a lot of different hands play a the overseas vessel.
role in getting your grain safely on its way. Transportation When farmers deliver their wheat to their country eleva-
and export partners work to keep the system running in an tor that is just the beginning of a long journey. Rail, barge
efficient fashion. When you see grain trains running on the and truck are the three main transportation modes utilized
railroads, grain trucks rolling on the highways or barges by local grain elevators. These options keep the system
moving up and down the Columbia and Snake rivers you running as efficiently as possible. Choices and options are
are seeing a united effort of partners and competitors key.
working for a common goal: to keep the system of trade
“The only reason you choose one mode of transporta-
tion over another is usually because
In this series of articles you will meet some of our grain of the freight rate,” said Kevin
systems’ players and get an inside look at the logistics Whitehall, the general man-
behind their operations. From your farm to the ocean, your ager for Central Washington
grain is handled and transported by at least five major play- Grain Growers (CWGG).
The co-op services about 1,600 members through 20 sta- • CWGG has the ability to load specific single-car
tions in five counties throughout north central Washington, shipments which are then reloaded into containers
and it is headquartered in Waterville. CWGG utilizes at the export ports in Seattle or Tacoma. CWGG also
the short line railway operated by Eastern Washington has the ability to directly load containers at their sta-
Gateway (EWG) as well as unit train loading facilities at tion in Mansfield.
Krupp, Wenatchee and Brewster. The short line is a state- A few years ago, Whitehall and other shippers worked
owned railroad that runs along Highway 2 from Coulee with legislators and lobbyists to save the short line from be-
City to Cheney. There it meets up with the main line that ing sold for salvage. After months of negotiations the short
goes to the west coast ports. The main line is owned by line operator, Watco Companies, Inc., sold the 108-mile
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF). CWGG is line to the state in 2007. Shipping by rail keeps hundreds
able to utilize a variety of railroad options: of grain trucks off area highways, which by itself is a huge
• CWGG can put together small cooperative loads (co- safety and road maintenance issue. Whitehall believes the
loads) of 26 cars, sell the wheat directly to the export state purchase has saved area growers thousands of dollars
facilities on the PNW coast and get it there via the in reduced freight rates. During negotiations it was esti-
BNSF line. mated that growers would pay 5 or 6 cents per bushel more
• CWGG can put together larger “scoot” trains of to get their wheat to market without the railroad. Today,
60 cars and sell the grain to Ritzville Warehouse Whitehall said that cost would be considerably higher.
Company (RWC). RWC is a 110-car shuttle facility on But CWGG is not bound to the rail. They also have part
the BNSF line that buys grain and sells it to the ex- ownership in Tri-Cities Grain, which is a barge loading
porters. RWC then ships the grain on the main line terminal on the Snake River near Pasco. This allows them
via 110-car shuttle trains. (Read more about RWC on to truck grain to the river and utilize barges bound for the
page 28) export facilities.
• CWGG works with other grain companies along the “Having shipping options is the key to utilizing the
short line to put together their own 110-car co-load system efficiently for us,” said Whitehall. “Those options
trains. They sell directly to the exporters and use the can and do change.”
BNSF line. These trains can be loaded at different CWGG isn’t the only one who keeps all options on
origins, but they all must have the same destination. the table. The Pacific Northwest Farmers Co-op, based in
Genessee, Idaho, lies within 30 miles of three barge ship-
ping ports on the Columbia-Snake River System. They have
facilities in 17 locations throughout the Palouse. The
co-op utilizes multiple barge, rail and state-
of-the art processing terminals. They own a
facility at the Port of Almota (Snake
River Terminal). They are also in
What is a short line?
A short line railroad is a small- or mid-sized railroad company that
operates over a short distance relative to larger, national railroad net-
works. In the U.S., railroads are categorized by operating revenue. Most
short line railroads fall into the Class III or Class II categorization de-
fined by the Surface Transportation Board. The larger, Class I railroad is
classified as “having annual carrier operating revenues of $250 million
or more” after adjusting for inflation.
Short line crews and power are used until the train hits the main
line. At that point, crews and power are switched to the main line op-
erators. In Eastern Washington’s case, the main line crews and power
are BNSF responsibilities.
WASHINGTON’S RAIL SYSTEM
WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION MAP
partnership with terminals in Central Like other large grain companies, Once delivered to the river termi-
Ferry and Lewiston. This co-op finds Pacific Northwest Farmers Co-op nals, a barge can be loaded within
success in diversification both with utilizes its country elevators to feed half a day. The big difference between
transportation and markets. into the system. “When harvest begins the barges and a Class I railroad,
• They truck commodities to river we like to be more than 50 percent like the BNSF line, is flexibility. “The
terminals for barge transporta- empty. Depending on what and when rules for the barges are strict, but not
tion to the exporters. our farmers sell, we fill up and empty as tight as those who deal with the
some of our smaller elevators two or BNSF. Demurrage charges are rarely
• The co-op utilizes short-line
three times during harvest,” White used,” he said. A demurrage charge
railroads to connect to the BNSF
said. occurs when a facility has gone over
main line and ship directly to
The Pacific Northwest Farmers the agreed upon time period to load
Co-op deals with the same logistical a railcar or barge. The railcars and
• They utilize truck & rail servic- barges do not belong to the grain
patterns as others. They try to empty
es and sell grain to other co-ops facility, therefore they must be loaded
their country elevators when weather
and grain companies. in a timely fashion. If they are not
co-operates, roads are clear and truck-
• They also have the ability to ing is viable. “We work with three or timely, they are charged a demur-
load specific closed containers four different trucking outfits to get rage fee. There are two barge com-
for shipment on rail to ports in grain moved in a timely manner. We panies who handle grain along the
the Seattle/Tacoma area. definitely pay attention to road main- Columbia-Snake River System. They
“We work to keep costs for our tenance schedules and have a priority are Tidewater and Shaver. Barges can
farmers to a minimum,” said Sam on which elevators get emptied first,” hold between 80,000 to 135,000 bushels
White, merchandiser for the co-op. White said. of wheat.
26 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
Sam White of the Pacific Northwest Farmers Co-op says utilizing efficient logistics and various options An example of a bin logistics chart used by PNW
keeps the co-op moving in a positive direction for its farmers. Farmers Coop. This is how they keep track of
specific wheat classes and various pulse crops.
Being based in Palouse country, the co-op also han-
dles various pulse crops such as peas, lentils and chick-
peas for domestic and export use. “There’s been a high
demand domestically for humus, so the chickpea market
is doing well right now,” White said.
The company also has its own processing facility that
can handle specialized commodities. The specialized
crops work not only for wheat farmers as rotations, but
can also lead to new wheat markets for the co-op. “We
built a relationship with a Jewish community back east
who wanted Kosher certified peas and lentils,” White
said. “That relationship flowed into wheat, and now we
are supplying them with wheat for their matzah (which
is used for matzah bread).”
Like CWGG, they also supply specific containers
of wheat to smaller markets overseas. “Some of these
niche markets don’t mind paying the extra freight to buy
containers that meet their very specific quality needs,”
When it comes down to moving wheat from our
country elevators, one thing is very clear. The more
options available, the better off the farmer. Both Pacific
Northwest Farmers Co-op and CWGG work to provide
the best alternatives possible to their farmers. White said
it quite well.
“Our company will be healthy if our farmers are
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 27
Riding the rails of balance
Riding the rails of balance
A look at the logistics of the Ritzville Warehouse Company
By Kara Rowe
“We’re kind of like the second middle man,” explained competitively,” he said.
John Anderson, CEO of Ritzville Warehouse Company To understand why this facility was such a beneficial
(RWC). Anderson’s operation is the only 110-shuttle facility addition, we have to understand a little bit about the rail
in Eastern Washington that mainly handles wheat. There system. In Washington, farm-
is another 110-car facility in ers are a captive shipper. This
Plymouth, Wash., across the means farmers only have one
Columbia River from Umatilla, rail carrier that can get our
Ore., that has historically been grain all the way to a port.
operated as a corn facility. That rail carrier is BNSF. Union
The RWC facility sits along Pacific Railway runs the same
the Burlington Northern service in Oregon. While there
Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) line are numerous small rail lines,
just outside Ritzville. The such as the state-owned short
BNSF line runs directly to the line that runs along Highway
Washington and Oregon ports. 2, if you want to get to an
Anderson said the RWC’s export facility via rail you must
goal when they decided to eventually merge with a BNSF-
build the facility 10 years ago owned line. A 110-shuttle train
was simple. They built it to is BNSF’s most cost effective
offer farmers and other grain collection of rail cars, and they
companies another option offer the best rates for a shuttle.
in transportation. “We have While most of our country
added another component Stacey Hunt is the chief grain merchandiser for the Ritzville Warehouse elevators can put together
28 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
The BNSF rail
line is a Class I railroad,
and with that comes tighter
restrictions and rules than short-
line railroads. Currently there
are four primary Class I railroads
in the U.S. The BNSF and Union
Pacific are the main carriers on the
west coast, but there are also the
CSX Transportation and Norfolk
Southern Combined Railroad that
service the east coast.
BRUCE KELLEY PHOTO
Ritzville Warehouse Company’s 110-shuttle facility sits along the BNSF main line outside Ritzville.
small co-loads of 20 to 50 rail cars at a segregates the different wheat classes Hunt. Regardless, the facility gets the
time, getting a load of 100 or more is and qualities, and reloads the grain best rate for its customers if it can get
extremely difficult. At RWC, they take into the BNSF-owned shuttle cars. the shuttle loaded in 10 hours, so that’s
the grain from these smaller co-loads “When the BNSF cars arrive we have what they strive for.
and build a 110-shuttle. 10 hours to get them loaded, no matter “We buy a lot of meals for our
In addition to buying grain from what time of day, or night, they ar- crew,” Anderson said. “The people
local farmers directly, RWC also rive.” This is one of the major logistical loading the shuttles make a big sacri-
purchases grain from other grain challenges of a shuttle facility. fice.” That sacrifice can include nights,
companies. “About 50 percent of our “We are so glad we can get cars weekends and holidays. Whenever the
grain comes from other grain compa- when we need them, however, we shuttle arrives, it is loaded. Anderson
nies,” said Anderson. “If our rates are have no control over when the BNSF added that he’s got basically the same
competitive with the barges, they may cars ultimately arrive,” explained crew he started with since the shuttle
choose to go through us rather than Anderson. “We order them for a facility opened. He works to rotate
trucking or railing it to the river.” certain time, but weather or crew and be flexible with their time off.
In a nutshell, RWC’s shuttle facility changes can modify the shuttle’s ar- The low turnover rate on employees is
acts much like a barge facility along rival without notice. If we get notice worth the effort to accommodate the
the river. Keeping the logistics effi- that the shuttle will be here at 7 a.m., crew.
cient is the key to running smoothly. we have our crew here at 6 a.m. ready One shuttle train can hold about
Interestingly, when they receive a to go. Sometimes, however, the shuttle 400,000 bushels of wheat. RWC’s
co-load they don’t automatically con- doesn’t arrive until hours later, and shuttle facility can hold just under
nect all the cars and send them west. our guys are still ready to go. We do two shuttles worth of grain. There are
Stacey Hunt, as chief grain merchan- our best to predict, but so much is out times when they load 1.6 million bush-
diser, works in tandem with Brian of our control,” he said. els of wheat in less than two weeks.
Gordon, grain merchandising man- The nightmare begins when mul- RWC also owns 20 country elevators
ager. “First of all, the cars from the tiple shuttles are arriving at similar that feed into the main facility. “Road
co-loads aren’t owned by BNSF,” Hunt time frames. “Let’s say you have three restrictions are another thing we have
said. “They’re owned by the short line shuttles ordered in a five-day period. to keep our eye on,” said Anderson.
operator or state, and they have to be The first one is late. The second one Like other large grain companies,
returned in a timely manner.” is on time. And the third one is early. RWC works logistically to empty its
Hunt went on to explain that the A perfect plan can be turned upside country elevators when the weather
shuttle facility unloads the co-loads, down by a shuttle being late,” said and road conditions cooperate.
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 29
Because it has its own country
elevators, and 50 percent of its supply
comes from other grain companies,
RWC has a balancing act it must
maintain. “We are not predatory,” said
Anderson. “Other grain companies
are some of our biggest customers and
we do our best to keep them happy.”
RWC receives wheat from more than
100 miles away, with customers as far
away as Rockford and Bonner’s Ferry,
Idaho. In order for RWC to continue
being successful, they must continue
balancing rates, employees, customers
and logistics. A true story of riding the
30 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 31
How the Columbia-Snake River System
works for the good of all
By Kara Rowe
COLUMBIA RIVER CHANNEL COALITION PHOTO
So as a farmer who pays the final bill, you have three 40,000 local jobs depend on the trade that happens because
choices in Washington state for how your grain is trans- of the waterway.
ported. You can pay for your grain to be hauled to the ports Recently, the lower Columbia River navigation channel
by truck, rail or barge. In many cases it’s a combination of was deepened from 40 feet to 43 feet. Though it may not
two. seem like a huge amount, those three extra feet allow a ves-
No matter which way you and your sel to be loaded heavier. The extra 6,000
grain company choose, most of the grain tons of wheat that can now be loaded on
sold in our state enters the Columbia- a vessel are worth an extra $1 million.
Snake River System at some point. By Kristin Meira is PNWA’s govern-
barge it may enter the system as high ment relations director. “It’s great to go
up as Lewiston. By truck or rail it may back to Washington, D.C., and tell our
enter closer to the mouth as far west Northwest Congressional Delegation
as Longview. Most years, 90 percent of about all the economic benefits already
Washington’s wheat crop is exported occurring from the channel deepen-
out of the PNW port system. In fact, the ing,” she said. PNWA worked with
Columbia-Snake River System is the top U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and
U.S. wheat and barley export gateway. others to secure the final $26.6 million in
It is also the third largest grain export stimulus package funding to complete
gateway in the world. A vital gateway the project in 2010.
like this needs a large voice when it
“We now get to showcase how impor-
comes to fighting for funding and other
tant the transportation savings are in
policy measures. That voice is the Pacific
getting commodities to market. Because
Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA).
we have deepened the channel, an enormous amount of
According to the PNWA, the deep draft portion of the investment is now taking place. The new facility being built
Columbia River supports over 40 million tons of cargo each at Longview is a great example. It’s the first new export
year, which is valued at more than $17 billion. More than facility built in the U.S. in almost 30 years, and it’s happen-
32 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
PORT OF PORTLAND DOCUMENT
ing here in the PNW. That facility wouldn’t be here if the dredging will continue annually to keep the river channel
deepening hadn’t taken place,” Meira said. She added that open for business.
improvements and investments on other facilities are also This wasn’t the first battle the PNWA has fought.
taking place. “It’s gratifying to tell the folks in D.C. that the “Our group has been an advocate for navigation on the
predicted benefits are not only happening, but are hap- Columbia River system for more than 70 years,” explained
pening more than expected.” Now regular maintenance Meira. Established in 1934 as Inland Empire Waterways
Lock time frame
the group led
the way for
The Walla Walla District of the Corps of ing to build
Engineers announced that the Columbia- the locks and
Snake River System will return to service dams on the
for river traffic when the Dalles Navigation Columbia and
lock re-opens March 23. Initial inquiries Snake rivers.
indicate that no river traffic has been In 1971 they
scheduled before March 17. Therefore, the expanded,
District is modifying its lock re-opening PNWA PHOTO adding
from March 13 to March 15 for Ice Harbor, Puget Sound
This dredge, called Yaquina, is one of two federal dredges that per-
Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower and coastal
form the bulk of the maintenance dredging on the Lower Columbia
Granite Locks. McNary Lock will re-open River and at the mouth. members to
March 17. provide a
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 33
comprehensive regional perspective. They now represent matter what side you are on, infrastructure is how we can
over 100 members in the public and private sectors in build our economy. There is general recognition on Capitol
Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska and California. They Hill of what the Corps does to maintain the infrastructure
work closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as the that is key to our economy. At PNWA we are not stopping
Corps manages many projects along the waterway. what we have
PNWA played a major role in securing stimulus funding always done; we
for the current lock upgrades on The Dalles, John Day and will continue
Lower Monumental dams. Once those projects are complet- communications.
ed, PNWA has other priorities it would like to see continue Funding will be
moving forward. “Our next top goal that will benefit the provided, but in
entire system are the planned repairs on the jetties at the different ways.
Mouth of the Columbia,” Meira said. The U.S. needs
to make targeted
The entrance to the Mouth of the Columbia is protected
by three rubble-mound jetties. The north jetty (2.5 miles
keep things mov-
long) is on the Washington side, the south jetty (6.6 miles
ing in a positive
long) is on the Oregon side and “Jetty A” (.5 mile long) is
just inland of the mouth on the Washington side. According
to PNWA, abnormally intense and frequent storms have
accelerated the decline of the jetties. Additionally, the
sand spits the jetties are built on have been receding. “The
Corps received funding through earmarks to make interim
repairs on the jetties, which were completed in 2007,” Meira
said. “That bought us some time, but the jetties will contin-
ue to degrade without targeted investment.” Portions of the
north and south jetties are in critical need of more repair,
and Meira fears they could breach during a large storm. A
breach could push sand into the navigation channel, and
that could essentially shut down commercial export trade.
A breach would cause costly emergency repairs and dredg-
ing to be done to restore the channel’s depth.
The Corps is looking at a series of major repairs that will
take approximately seven years and $250 million to com-
plete. “If all goes well gaining funding, we expect them to
start in 2013,” Meira said. Currently the Corps is complet-
ing a detailed study on the jetty repair plan, and PNWA is
working at locking down funding. PNWA is also working
on future projects such as a sediment management plan,
other lock repairs and simplifying the permitting process.
“We have a significant number of endangered species in
the PNW. It takes a long time to get permits approved or
denied for any project on the river. We want to make sure
it doesn’t take a year to get a permit, but rather a couple of
months. This will ensure that our ports stay competitive
In today’s political climate, PNWA has a new set of chal-
lenges to overcome, including learning how to work in a
new no-earmark system. “Things are definitely in a state of
flux on Capitol Hill,” Meira said. “We will face at least two
years of no earmarks. This whole topic is making people
in D.C. define what an earmark actually is and figure out
how we properly fund infrastructure without them. No
34 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 35
Behind the scenes of an export grain terminal
Randy Cartmill of Columbia Grain International explains the logistics of their export facility to a group of Washington farmers and landlords. This facil-
ity operates out of the Port of Portland, and they export grains, pulses and oilseeds. This is a view from inside the “brains” of the facility. Computers
track each bin and the ship-loading process.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, we have the nation’s top
wheat export gateway in our backyard. The logistics behind the
export facilities are much like that of our country elevators, but
multiplied by about a thousand.
Before a ship is loaded, the exporter pre-loads the purchased
grain into “shipping bins”. If a problem is found with the quality
specifications of the load, it is fixed before a kernel of grain is
loaded onto the ship.
The Federal Grain Inspection Service of the USDA has a lab
at the export facilities. Continuous samples of the load are
extracted and sent to the lab throughout the loading process.
This ensures that the quality specifications of the customer are
When Japan purchases wheat from the U.S., a second inspec-
tion is performed by an independent lab, called the Overseas
The Federal Grain Inspection Service keeps samples Merchandise Inspection Company, LTD. OMIC is contracted by
of individual wheat varieties on hand for visual iden- Japan’s government to conduct an additional review. Japan is
tification checks. In addition, samples of grain loaded consistently the number one buyer of soft white wheat.
on a ship are kept for 90 days in case of disputes over
36 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
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WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 37
Into the sea
Columbia river bar pilots risk it all
to get grain on its way through the
Graveyard of the Pacific
By Kara Rowe
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION PHOTO
Once your grain reaches the export facility, it is loaded have been lost in and around the Columbia Bar.
on a ship and then travels downstream to the Mouth of the “Generally the storms come through in the winter and
Columbia. Once there, it faces its most dangerous chal- create ocean swells that hit the outflow of the water from
lenge. The Columbia Bar is known as the most dangerous the Columbia,” said Lewin. “This is a significant amount
piece of waterway that is kept open for trade during bad of water traveling at significant speeds. The collision of
weather. “Most other places shut down when weather these forces makes it treacherous.” Lewin said that the
gets like this,” explained Gary Lewin, a member of the worst time of year is from November to April. “Generally
Columbia River Bar Pilots. But if the Columbia River we face 20’ waves (two stories high). It’s literally a wall of
system shut down every water that travels at 24
time bad weather set in, miles per hour with lots
trade would come to a of energy. As the waves
halt too many days of the steepen when they hit
year. That means billions the bar, they can double
of dollars in state and in height and lose their
national income would back. The other side is
be wiped out. And that’s like a cliff.” Even when
something our region the waters settle a bit in
will not allow. the spring and summer
To understand the months, the bar pilots
enormity of this pro- then have a different
cess, you must first challenge...fishermen.
understand the bar. The Hundreds of fishing
Columbia Bar is a system vessels line the entrance
of bars and shoals at the and exit of the mouth
Mouth of the Columbia of the river making it a
River. The bar channel is hazardous trek.
COLUMBIA RIVER BAR PILOTS PHOTO
about 2,600 feet wide and Most sea captains
Fishing boats fill the area around the mouth of the Columbia River as you can see on
six miles long. The bar is this radar image. The long lines on the right side of the blue screen show where the are not skilled enough
where the river's cur- jetties along the mouth sit. Fishing boats can be a major hazard to navigating the bar, to cross the bar alone,
rent dissipates into the as are storms and sea swells.
thus the birth of the
Pacific Ocean, often as Columbia River Bar
large standing waves. Conditions can change from calm to Pilots. It was established by the state of Oregon in 1846
life-threatening in as little as five minutes due to changes and is one of the state’s oldest continuous businesses. It is
in direction of wind and ocean swells. Since 1792, approxi- controlled by the Oregon Board of Maritime Pilots under
mately 2,000 large ships have sunk and almost 700 lives the auspices of the Public Utilities Commission.
COLUMBIA RIVER BAR PILOTS PHOTO NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION PHOTO
A grain vessel maneuvers through the bar. A pilot ship heads out to sea.
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 39
and he ended up in the water. There
was so much current that crews
found him three days later, 60 miles
up the coast. He gave everything for
the success of the region.
Other than good pay, Lewin
said there’s a sense of responsibil-
ity that gets a pilot out of bed each
day to face the challenge. “It takes
a different type of personality to
do this job. You work with lots of
A-type personalities!” he said with
a laugh. “One reason we do it is the
importance of safety. There’s pres-
sure from the system on keeping
trade moving. Everything is expen-
sive. It’s very expensive if you have
to shut the river down. Sometimes
you have to tell people ‘no I’m not
doing it because the weather is too
COLUMBIA RIVER BAR PILOTS PHOTO
bad,’ and you shut down the system.
The Columbia River Bar Pilots have three transportation crafts including the pilot helicopter, That A-type personality is needed in
SEAHAWK, and two state-of-the-art, 30-knot pilot boats, the CHINOOK and COLUMBIA. The CHINOOK those situations.”
is pictured above.
With most of the cargo going out
of the region being export grain, the
The purpose of the program is to young and under-qualified. In fact,
bar pilots know the PNW farmers
ensure the safety of the ships and a person must go through a rigor-
are counting on them. Getting grain
crews across the bar. ous process to become a bar pilot.
safely in and out of the Graveyard of
As each vessel approaches the bar, “All bar pilots have to qualify,” said
the Pacific has more behind it than
either coming or going, a Columbia Lewin. ”They have to have been a
money. It has guts.
River Bar Pilot boards the ship by captain aboard a large cargo ship
boat or helicopter. When coming in and been vetted by the industry.”
from the ocean, they board about 12 On average, it takes 15 years just to
miles off shore, depending on the become a captain with another two
type of ship and traffic. The pilot years as captain to be vetted. “It
then guides the vessel and its crew gives a potential pilot enough time to
across the bar. Because English is the have handled a ship in bad weather.”
official International Maritime lan- The average age of a new pilot is 42.
guage, the pilots can communicate “Once you become master of a ship,
simple instructions. “The vocabulary that’s as far as you can go. The next
is limited. Only about 100 words are step is either piloting or becoming
required for the crews to know, but an executive in an office.” There are
it’s enough to steer the vessel,” said about 1,200 pilots throughout differ-
Lewin. If the weather and waters are ent ports in the U.S.
too dangerous, the pilots have the For the bar pilots on he Columbia,
power to shut the river down until a it’s a dangerous and life-threatening
safer passage can be made. job each trip. The last time they lost a
Most of his 14 colleagues are in pilot was in 2006. It was January, and
their fifties or sixties, and Lewin is the pilot was disembarking after suc-
in his sixties. He has been a bar pilot cessfully getting the ship across the
since 1983. This is not a job for the bar. The transfer was not successful,
40 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
visit us at
more interactive ag news
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 41
A discussion with Washington’s Labor & Industries
Department, Division of Occupational Safety and
Health (DOSH), and how the state’s worker safety
laws affect you as a farmer
By Kara Rowe
There are 39 different types of agriculture in the state pathogens and heat stress. These are considered long-term
of Washington. It is home to wheat and apple farming, exposures. The safety division investigates more of the
as well as grape and oyster farming. The state’s Labor & physically large challenges such as tractors, PTOs, rollovers
Industries Department (L&I) is charged with the task to and ladder hazards. The guidelines and rules are very strict
set safety rules and guidelines for all farmers to follow. in Washington state, even compared to our neighbors. If
Over the years, there have been more and more regulations you farm both sides of the state line, you’ll need to check on
that have some farmers questioning what is applicable to each state’s rulebook.
their wheat farm. The set of standards applicable to farms “Oregon and Idaho currently follow OSHA (federal)
is overwhelming to read. While many of the regulations standards” said David Puente, L&I’s DOSH statwide
are written strictly around the tree fruit industry, there are compliance manager. “Here in Washington we don’t have
some basic rules that every farm, whether a corporation identical standards, but our rules have to be as effective as
or not, must adhere to. With three fatal farm accidents just OSHA. Sometimes are standards are more stringent.”
recently happening in Idaho, and the busy farm season just
The point of their tight guidelines is simple—safety for
around the corner, safety is at the top of many minds. And
all employers and employees. “If you saw what we see,
if it isn’t, it should be. Ignorance is no longer being tolerated
you would have safety as a priority as well,” said Pedro
as an excuse. Farmers need to be aware of the safety rules
Serrano, L&I’s safety and health specialist. “To see the fa-
that apply to them. L&I is making a concerted effort to
talities and how the accidents happened is harsh. Combine
educate farmers on what they need to know.
rollovers, PTO shaft mistakes, it’s terrible. All it takes is one
L&I’s farm safety team is separated into two discplines: careless move, and families are never the same.”
hygiene and safety. The hygiene division looks at things
As for regulating safety on farms, L&I acknowledges
like noise, hand washing, chemical exposures, bloodwork,
42 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
that with their staff, the odds of visiting each farm in the
state are unrealistic. “There are more than 39,000 farms in WAC 296-307-40027: What emergency precau-
Washington,” said Serrano. tions are required when handling anhydrous ammo-
“We have about 120 field staff,” said Pam Edwards, L&I’s
industrial hygienist. “That’s one staffer to about 250,000
...(3) All storage systems must have on hand at least the following
equipment for emergency and rescue purposes:
“The likelihood of an employer being inspected without (a) *One full-face gas mask with anhydrous ammonia refill
a formal complaint or reason is about once in 20 years,” canisters.
said Puente. Wheat farmers are not the primary focus of (b) **One pair of protective gloves.
the department. “We’re not seeing a lot of injuries on wheat (c) **One pair of protective boots.
farms.” The department is, however, working on making (d) **One protective slicker and/or protective pants and
routine visits a priority. jacket.
(e) Easily accessible shower and/or at least 50 gallons of
“Typically our staff show up to inspect a worksite clean water in an open top container.
because we received a safety/health complaint, hospi- (f) Tight-fitting vented goggles or one full-face shield.
talization, an accident occurred, or the employer is on
our scheduling list. Our current scheduling inspection * If ammonia vapors are detected when the mask is applied,
list is focused on recency of an inspection. Upon arrival, then leave the area immediately. The life of a canister in service
our staff will obtain consent before we continue with the is controlled by the percentage of vapors to which it is exposed.
inspection,” Puente said. “After consent is granted by the Canisters must not be opened until ready for use and should be
employer/management, we will sit down for an opening discarded after use or as recommended by the canister manufac-
turer. Unopened canisters may be guaranteed for as long as three
conference. We’ll do a physical walk around, followed by a
years, and all should be dated when received. In addition, an
closing conference. During the walkaround if we identify a
independently supplied air mask of the type used by fire depart-
safety or health hazard we will provide abatement guid-
ments may be used for emergencies.
ance. During the closing conference we will discuss the
type of safety and health hazards that were observed and **Gloves, boots, slickers, jackets and pants must be made of rub-
determine a reasonable abatement date of the hazards with ber or other material impervious to ammonia.
the employer. If any of the violations are serious in nature a
penalty will be assessed. If there are violations we will ex- be aware of as well.” While wheat growers have had a very
plain what the farmer can expect and their appeal rights.” small percentage of violations as a whole, each farm needs
“Part of our inspection process is to conduct employee to know the hazards applicable to them.
interviews. This provides us a better understanding of For instance, family members working on the farm isn’t
what is actually taking place at these worksites,” explained as cut and dry as one would think. Children on the farm
Puente. If there is a citation given, penalties can be costly. have a protection act that farmers should be aware of. There
“If we find a hazard at the worksite, or are there because of is also a misperception that family members are exempt
an accident, we will evaluate a lot of information such as from any rules. “There is an exemption for some cases, but
employee interviews, observations, employer records and you really have to make sure you understand the exemp-
etc. If an employer is making a good faith effort and we are tion,” Serrano said.
unable to prove a violation we will not cite an employer,”
Puente said. “If you elect industrial insurance coverage for a family
member, they are an employee no matter what, and you
“We have to respond to all complaints and at times must follow the guidelines set by the state,” said Puente.
we may find merit in the allegations, or we find that the
employer has already abated the hazards, or we do not find There is also some confusion on what happens after a
anything. If we do not find merit in the complaint allega- work comp claim is filed. If an employer feels the work
tions a citation will not be issued,” Puente said. comp claim is not true or is being taken advantage of, it
is up to the employer to make oversight a priority. “As an
employer, you can call work comp and make allegations,”
SOME RULES YOU NEED TO KNOW said Puente. “The work comp division can evaluate the
investigation. The employer, however, has to stay on top
As for which rules apply to wheat growers, it depends of the claim. We have ‘return to work’ programs, and a lot
on the operation. “Chapter 296-307 applies to wheat grow- of things to educate employers on what to do if a claim is
ers,” said Serrano. “But there are other rules they should filed.”
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 43
L&I would also like farmers to be aware of some
basic safety issues that are rising in recent years.
“Respiratory protection is huge when spraying,”
said Edwards. “This is one of the hardest subjects to
Also, tractors have been at the forefront of head-
lines and tragedies lately. “Tractors are the biggest
problem right now,” said Serrano. “Most of our ac-
cidents have been related to tractors. Rollover protec-
tion needs to be looked at seriously on our farms.”
Another topic of discussion is that many farmers
hire seasonal or harvest help only for a few weeks in a
year. “It doesn’t matter,” said Serrano. “As soon as you
have an employee you must have these standards in
With that said, L&I staff say they are not out to fine
farmers on a whim. “If we go to a place and find noth-
ing, that is a good day for us. Our goal is for work-
ers to have a safe workplace. We are not looking for
penalties,” said Edwards.
“We understand people may not always welcome
us, but we’re willing to help to educate and make
things right,” said Puente. In fact, L&I offers a free
consultation service to those willing to let them come
out to the farm.
“The caviat is that if we find something out of
compliance, you must fix it within a reasonable time
frame,” said Edwards.
“We offer this service because a lot of farmers just
don’t know where to start and what to look for,” said
Puente. “When a farmer hires somebody, odds are
that they’re doing the most reasonable thing in their
mind. But when we go through the farm, we know
what to look for and we have the expertise.”
“We are technical,” said Serrano. “There are things
that are very clear to us but not so much to farmers.
Use us to help you succeed.”
In reality, farmers are required to take another look
at their safety practices on the farm. While there are
far fewer accidents on a wheat farm versus an apple
orchard historically, many will argue that one acci-
dent is too many.
For more information on Washington’s L&I
Department and the state’s worker safety laws visit
44 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 45
Working together on the wheat team
Kim Garland Campbell and Camille Steber
degree in Biology and her Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and
By Kevin Gaffney
Cell Biology at the University of Chicago. She completed
Kim Garland Campbell and Camille Steber complement her work there in 1996.
each other well, which is a big benefit to the wheat growers
of the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Her postdoctoral research was in the Department of
Botany at the University of Toronto. She was recruited from
Both are employed by the Agricultural Research Service, there to the position at WSU after meeting Kay Simmons at
the chief scientific research agency of the United States a conference.
Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS). Both scientists
hail from Illinois. Campbell grew up in Naperville, former- Steber and Simmons quickly discovered they both had
ly a rural farming area, now a suburb of Chicago. Steber interests in the hormonal control of seed germination and
grew up in Chicago proper. pre-harvest sprouting. Steber soon headed to Pullman to
join the USDA-ARS research team as a Research Molecular
Steber began her ARS research work at WSU-Pullman Geneticist.
in 1998. Campell followed in 1999, after being recruited by
Kay Simmons. Simmons is currently the deputy adminis- “Our collaboration is similar to a pyramid,” explained
trator for USDA- Campbell.
ARS in Beltsville, “Camille’s work
Maryland, but was provides the build-
previously the re- ing blocks at the
search leader of the base of the pyra-
USDA-ARS Wheat mid. My work is
Genetics, Quality, combining her re-
Physiology and search, along with
Disease Research that of many oth-
Unit at Pullman. ers, and building
the upper portion
Campbell trav- so that we develop
eled a bit further useful cultivars for
on her journey to growers.”
the Palouse. After
earning her B.S. de- Steber put it an-
gree in Agronomy other way. “I work
at Colorado State on the palette, Kim
University, she makes the paint-
spent two years ing.” Steber’s work
Kim Garland Campbell and Camille Steber work together at USDA-ARS to benefit wheat growers. focuses on seed
serving with the
Peace Corps in dormancy and ger-
Antigua, West Indies. Following that, she earned a Masters mination issues, as well as plant drought stress responses.
in Theology from the Lutheran Theological Seminary Steber has a National Science Foundation-funded project
at Philadelphia in 1985. Deciding that her first love was that uses the tiny weed Arabidopsis as a model system
genetics and agriculture, Campbell then earned a Masters to figure out how hormones control seed dormancy and
degree and a Ph.D. in Crop Science from North Carolina germination. She then transfers these traits using mutation
State University. Campbell joined the faculty at Ohio State breeding in wheat. The goal is to create soft and hard white
University as a wheat geneticist in the Department of varieties that are sprouting tolerant, but still emerge well.
Horticulture and Crop Sciences. She later took her current At WSU, the collaboration between the USDA-ARS and
position as a USDA-ARS Research Geneticist in Pullman. WSU scientists is a crucial part of their success in bring-
“I do remember having to look up on a map to find ing laboratory research to growers’ fields. For example, in
Pullman,” remarked Campbell. “I had never been to the the WSU Plant Growth Facility, winter and spring crop
PNW before.” teams may have separate floors in the greenhouse facility,
Steber started closer to home, earning both her Bachelor’s but they readily share research results with fellow team
46 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
members. tion seed development in about eight to 10 years from this
They also work with private wheat breeding companies, research method, less for spring wheat.
other university programs and the International Maize and Campbell and Steber are both excited about data coming
Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), based in Mexico, to from wheat DNA genome mapping, although they believe
improve current varieties and develop new cultivars with some of the publicity about the recent breakthrough by
desired traits for better quality, higher yields or disease British scientists was overstated.
resistance. “We now have many of the individual pieces of the
Steber, Campbell and Scot Hulbert, who holds the Cook wheat DNA sequence, but it is completely unassembled. It’s
Chair for Cropping Systems at WSU, collaborate on a like having a very complex jigsaw puzzle with many pieces
Washington Grain Commission funded project to breed for missing, and none of them have been put together,” said
increased drought tolerance in wheat. Steber. “But it is far more information than we used to have,
Campbell works with club, soft white and hard white and it will make wheat molecular biology easier.”
wheat cultivar development and improvement. A ma- “The new ‘Nex-gen’ sequencing methods really have
jor focus of her program is disease resistance, including potential to make wheat genetic improvement much more
resistance to stripe rust and stem rust as well as major soil- efficient and productive,” noted Campbell. “This technol-
borne diseases and pathogenic nematodes. ogy finally brings the cost of genotyping, or selection on
Steber prefers to conduct her genetic work using spring DNA itself, down to less than the cost of looking at plants
wheat because several generations of spring wheat can be in the field. Once the entire sequence is assembled, that
produced at the impressive information will offer huge
WSU Plant Growth facility new opportunities for
each year. plant breeding.”
In contrast, winter wheat Steber noted that the
needs approximately eight challenge will be handling
weeks of vernalization the vast quantities of data
“in the cooler” to flower, analysis.
restricting generations to WSU is adequately
two per year at most. Once positioned in this regard
the genetics are worked out with good bioinformat-
in spring wheat, Steber’s ics, the presence of the
work to improve drought USDA-ARS Small Grains
resistance and pre-harvest Genotyping Laboratory,
sprouting resistance can be The WSU plant growth facility in Pullman. directed by Deven See, and
easily transferred to winter the strength of the wheat
wheat. breeding programs.
Asked how long it takes to develop a new cultivar, Campbell and Steber emphasized that their interaction
Campbell and Steber explained the two basic areas of plant with growers in the region is very important to them and
breeding. their research work. They both enjoy working with PNW
Population building entails working with certain farmers and seed-growers.
cultivars that are not adapted to an area, but that have Campbell attends many plot tours and presents seminars
interesting or desired traits. This breeding process can take for growers. Steber also meets with grower groups and
between 10 and 20 years to bring in desired genes and fully seed reps to explain her research. That is another illustra-
develop a new variety. tion of the cooperative full-circle teamwork beginning
In contrast, selection in “best by best” crosses is the with basic research and ending with results in the farmers’
crossing of specific, established cultivars to continue to wheat fields.
make gains in production and other traits. “When I first came here from Ohio, I was very impressed
For example, both USDA-ARS and the WSU winter with the growers here and their knowledge of our science
wheat program have populations derived from crosses be- and how involved they are with varietal research,” said
tween Finch and Eltan, both adapted varieties in the PNW. Campbell. “This is a great place to work with wheat.”
A new winter wheat variety can be released for founda-
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 47
by Glen Squires, WGC Vice President
Prices continue to rise as volatility expands on sev- Agricultural Supply and Demand (WASDE) report. In
eral fronts. Exports are stronger with competitor crops 2007/08 wheat stocks were near historic lows; coarse
hindered. PNW crop conditions continue favorable. grains stocks began the year at 30-year lows with rice
in a similar situation. Stocks-to-use ratios reflected
World View the supply tightness. Wheat hit an all-time low of 19.1
percent; coarse grains fell to 13.6 percent, the lowest
Rising commodity prices, food shortages, political
since 1973, and rice began the marketing year at a 30-
unrest, currency changes, government financial con-
year low of 17.8 percent. Also at that time, crude oil and
cerns, increased fuel prices and weather all influence
input prices rose before grain prices. In 2008, crude oil
the current market. Some topics are somewhat reminis-
prices peaked at more than $150 a barrel.
cent of 2007/08, but there are differences.
In contrast, the current world wheat supply of
Despite rapidly rising prices, the supply of grain
843 million metric tons (mmt) is actually the second
worldwide is not at the constricted level of two and
highest in history (down 6.8 mmt from last year’s
three years ago, according to USDA’s recent World
Table 1: World Wheat Supply and Use
2002/03 to 2010/11
02/03 03/04 04/05 05/06 06/07 07/08 08/09 09/10 10/11*
million metric tons
BEGINNING STOCKS 202.00 166.10 132.68 150.62 147.46 126.98 124.78 167.20 197.60
Canada 16.20 23.60 25.86 25.75 25.27 20.05 28.61 26.85 23.17
Australia 10.10 26.10 21.90 25.17 10.82 13.84 21.42 21.92 25.00
Argentina 12.30 14.50 16.00 14.50 15.20 16.80 11.00 11.00 14.00
EU 124.50 106.90 146.78 132.36 124.87 120.20 151.12 138.05 136.53
FSU-12 97.00 60.90 86.58 91.92 84.98 92.69 115.44 113.89 80.98
China 90.30 86.50 91.95 97.45 108.47 109.30 112.46 115.12 114.50
All Other Foreign 172.80 172.30 177.89 175.81 177.27 181.00 174.78 195.45 191.13
USA 43.70 63.80 58.74 57.84 49.22 55.82 68.02 60.37 60.10
World Production 566.90 554.60 625.70 620.80 596.10 609.70 684.16 682.65 645.41
Supply, Total 768.90 720.70 758.38 771.42 743.56 736.68 808.94 845.85 843.01
FSU-12 73.70 65.90 72.88 75.74 72.53 75.60 76.32 80.25 84.05
China 105.20 104.50 102.00 101.00 102.00 106.00 105.50 107.00 108.80
All Other Foreign 392.40 385.90 400.20 416.33 411.11 406.44 425.62 434.08 440.37
USA 30.30 32.50 31.82 31.36 30.94 28.57 34.29 30.93 32.01
World Use 601.60 688.80 606.90 624.43 616.58 616.61 641.73 652.26 665.23
ENDING STOCKS 166.10 131.90 150.60 147.65 126.98 120.07 167.20 197.60 177.77
Sources: WASDE 2/11; USDA/FAS Grain: World Markets and Trade, January 2011 and earlier.
48 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
and output for the upcoming
Chart 1: World Population Growth production year are even more
Projected to 2050 critical when viewed against
10 this demand.
900+ mmt est.
9.5 est. The WFP suggests that the
8 upward pressure on world food
660+ mmt prices is not abating and will
6.8 billion population
Population in billions
likely persist in the months to
Million metric tons
World wheat come. The global food price
consumption index produced by the United
4 Nations’ Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) reached
Less developed countries
2 231 points in January, higher
than the previous peak of 213.5
More developed countries reached in 2008. The FAO is
hopeful that countries will not
resort to export bans and other
Source: US Wheat Associates
protectionist moves, which
would fuel an already heated
Unrest in several countries has added to the food
record) with a stocks-to-use ratio of 26.7 percent, the
security issue, with many countries increasing grain
second largest since 2002 (Table 1). The rice stocks to
purchases. Egypt has absorbed most of the costs for
use ratio of 20.8 percent is the largest since a similar
increased procurement with the bread subsidy continu-
reading in 2003.
ing. While the Middle East is certainly in the news,
World coarse grains numbers are much different. including their increased grain demand, keep an eye
Stocks are projected by USDA to be just 154.0 mmt. on Asia. The rice situation could drive wheat demand
This is a drop of 44.7 mmt from last year and the single higher. Rice is the staple for more than half the world’s
biggest stocks decrease in several decades. The stocks- population. Rice supplies are currently adequate with
to-use ratio of coarse grains is just 13.7 percent, almost prices not yet rising (Chart 2). However, countries are
identical to the tight (13.6 percent) situation which beginning to sharply increase purchases to build stock-
helped to foster the price explosion of 2007/08. Coarse piles, and some suppliers are facing flooding issues. It is
grains are a price driver. estimated that more than two-thirds of all rice exports
While overall grain reserves seem adequate, it is not come from just four Asian producers. A reduced harvest
time for complacency. Weather has a way of changing in one or two of them could have implications.
world dynamics just as last year’s drought and export If reports are accurate, the next market driver could be
ban in Russia began the price run for wheat. Food China. While the severity of Russia’s drought last year
price inflation is now the dialogue. The World Food exploded onto the scene, drought conditions in China
Programme (WFP) says along with wheat, costs for are well known. The United Nations recently issued an
coarse grains are also rising on smaller than expected alert about the drought in China’s northern production
harvests. Expect to see the food-for-fuel debate heat region, said to be the worst in 60 years, with an esti-
back up as corn stocks fall to a 15-year low with higher mated 37 percent of acres affected. The region produces
than expected ethanol production. two-thirds of China’s wheat. Higher corn imports are
The current escalation in commodity prices hap- also expected.
pened before crude oil prices began to rise. This could The country is said to be bracing for the possibility of
serve as another catalyst for price strength. an upcoming weak wheat crop by implementing poli-
One thing is certain—consumption is headed up. cies to encourage grain production. Having been largely
Recent data from U.S. Wheat Associates show a correla- absent in the market, China’s entry would surely put
tion between increased demand for wheat and world pressure on prices. Tempering this news is China’s esti-
population growth (Chart 1). Growing conditions mated wheat stocks of 60 mmt—about 6 month’s
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 49
three years ago.
• World wheat con-
Chart 2: Rice Prices Out of Step with Wheat and Corn sumption is up 13 mmt
600 to 665.2 mmt, setting
500 (100 Thai Baht) a record for the third
• World trade of
Dollars per metric ton
450 125.3 mmt is the third
400 largest on record.
• Demand in the
Middle East and
76% wheat North Africa is ris-
250 ing with concern for
• Some governments
are increasing food
subsidies and moving to
control consumer prices
Source: USDA/FAS Grain: World Markets and Trade with increased imports.
• Russian export re-
usage. With nearly $3 trillion in foreign reserves, if
strictions continue; Ukraine’s restriction could lift
needed, China can certainly use its buying power to
avert any serious domestic food shortage. China is also
expected to begin increasing its strategic oil reserves • Speculators continue to see profit opportunities
during the first half of 2011, which could put additional in commodities.
pressure on crude oil prices. • Milling wheat is in short supply, favoring exports.
About half of Australia’s crop ended up in the feed • Russia may not rebound. Winter wheat area is
wheat category due to persistent rain and flooding down 3 million hectares from expected. Growing
conditions. Rail infrastructure was hit especially hard conditions are ”satisfactory.” Spring plantings will
by flooding, with extensive road damage. On the other hinge on weather.
hand, many Australian growers will enter the next • Globally, planted acres must increase to meet de-
year with excellent soil moisture. We can expect to see
mand as yields remain stagnant.
Australia be very aggressive in the Egyptian market
• Ocean rates favor buyers. Rates are down the last
with its large supply of off-quality wheat.
six months and about 25 percent lower than a year
Canada has also had its share of crop downgraded by
ago, but demand for mid-size bulk ships is picking
poor weather, even prompting some hiccups in supply-
ing its regular buyer Japan. Argentina has rebounded
• The spread between Gulf and PNW rates to Japan
from a 14-year low production with output of 14 mmt,
becoming the fifth-largest exporter this year with 8.5 continue to favor the PNW with the spread still
mmt out the door. much higher than two years ago.
• Dollar weakness favors exports.
• World wheat supply is the second highest only to • U.S. heartland crop conditions are not encouraging.
last year. • The EPA has increased the ethanol blend, increas-
• The International Grains Council pegged ing corn demand.
2011/2012 output up 3 percent to 647 mmt, but
given consumption, stocks will still be drawn Domestic View
upon. Reduced Baltic Sea exports, poor quality in Australia
• Wheat stock-to-use ratio is a comfortable 26.7 and Canada, and a weaker dollar have sent buyers to
percent versus the record low 19.1 percent the U.S. There is plenty of wheat to buy with a supply of
50 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
89.5 mmt (3.29 billion bushels), the largest supply since by class will remain plentiful with continued higher
1999. For growers, the increased demand is welcomed, year-end stocks-to-use ratios showing HRW (25.7%),
especially accompanied by rising prices. HRS (33.6%), SRW (53.7%), SW (25.1%), and Durum
How high will it go? All indications are that 2011 will (35.8%). The ratio is 33 percent, the second highest in
be very volatile, and it may be 2012 before prices level a decade. SW, being the tightest, still carries a 92-days
out as higher prices will cause increased plantings this usage number.
year. With expanding global food security, food price Responding to prices and some better planting condi-
inflation concerns and an ever increasing demand for tions, winter wheat acreage rose by nearly 10 percent
grain and meat against a backdrop of rising oil prices, to 40.9 million acres (ma). HRW area is 29.6 ma (up 4%)
no room for another supply shock due to adverse with SRW at 7.76 ma, up a huge 47 percent. SRW, with
weather exists. That said, implications for adverse the second highest stocks-to-use ratio in history (53.7%)
weather exist in many regions of the world as previ- will add another huge crop and bring stiffer competi-
ously indicated, including some concerns domestically, tion for SW export sales next year. White winter wheat
particularly throughout the Midwest with the hard red area is 3.66 ma, up 4 percent. PNW spring wheat
winter (HRW) crop. acreage, particularly HRS, will increase given price
Meteorologist Art Douglas recently alerted PNW strength.
growers to Mexico’s dryness and high temperatures The USDA raised the average producer price for
moving into the Southern U.S. with Midwest drought wheat by 5 cents to $5.70 per bushel over January’s
and high temperature concerns. Freezing has already estimate, and 20 cents higher than in November. Corn,
taken some toll. Midwest conditions now compare to barley and oats are all up 10 cents on the month.
the 1950’s and 1960’s. There is about a 75 percent chance The $5.70 per bushel for wheat is a bit misleading
that La Niña will not turn into a full-fledged El Niño when looking at current prices approaching and even
in 201. It will most likely hold off until 2012 or 2013. exceeding $10.00 per bushel, depending on class and
Douglas noted that conditions should again be favor- protein level (Chart 3). One analyst aptly commented
able for PNW winter and spring crops, and that as long that predicting the future prices of grains is next to
as La Niña is around, Australia will be wet. impossible because that’s a bet on the weather.
The USDA made few changes to the overall balance
sheet in its February WASDE Report. HRW and soft
white (SW) wheat
exports were raised
again, offset by Chart 3: Nearby Cash Prices at Export Locations
decreases in hard Weekly values for 11/10/2005 to 2/10/2011
red spring (HRS) 25.0
and soft red winter 850
(SRW) wheat. The 800
export pace is ahead 20.0 750
W Coast HRW 700
of last year by 55 12.0% protein
Dollars per metric ton
percent (up 10.3 W Coast HRS
Dollars per bushel
mmt), of which the 15.0 550
Middle East is 40 SW 500
Egypt). HRW ex- 10.0 350
ports (6.4 mmt) are 300
nearly double this 250
time last year. HRS 200
is up 81 percent,
and SW exports are
18 percent ahead of
last year. Despite
Source: US Wheat Associates
the demand, stocks
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 51
52 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
By Nat Webb
A good deal of space in this column has been devoted Vice-President Glen Squires, travel to buyers’ conferences
to wheat research at public universities and private com- around the world to represent the white wheat produced in
panies. Research is an important element of our industry our region.
and deserves the coverage. But the Washington Grain Tom has also been instrumental in generating studies
Commission is charged with other areas of responsibility showing the advantages of blending white wheat with
too, and I would like to make an effort here to acquaint you DNS. The result of this blend is a larger loaf of bread using
with just one of these aspects: marketing. the same amount of grain. The advantage for bakers is that
This is a subject that is close to my heart because after white wheat can replace other, more expensive classes of
all, it’s what our income ultimately depends upon. The wheat. This not only provides the baking company more
definition of marketing varies from person to person. profit, it potentially provides our Washington producers
Prior to becoming a member of the commission, I viewed with a new market.
marketing as selling my wheat (at a good price) to the lo- Glen keeps a wealth of information about our customers
cal elevator. Where it went from there was someone else’s as well as the various grain crops produced in our state.
responsibility. With intricate graphs and tables, he briefs the commission
After serving on the commission these last three years, on the production details and various markets we serve at
I’ve come to realize my marketing obligation doesn’t end at each of the five commission meetings we hold annually.
the grated truck dump a few miles from my farm. My local Scott Yates, the commission’s communication director,
elevator, where I have concentrated most of my marketing ensures that Washington growers understand the value of
proficiency in the past, is an important part of a system, but the commission’s marketing efforts through the articles he
it is only one part. That elevator company sells my wheat writes about WGC’s funded initiatives. His stories in Wheat
to another link in the marketing chain. In the Northwest, Life go a long way to assure growers their assessments dol-
where 85 percent of our production is exported, that next lars are being spent wisely.
link is an exporter, of which there are four (soon to be five).
One aspect of marketing that has personally concerned
There, my wheat is transferred to an ocean-going vessel
me is wheat quality. Specifically, why do we strive to
which transports it to an overseas mill that grinds it into
produce quality wheat (that may have a lower yield) when
flour which is sold to bakeries which turn it into products
many of our cost conscious customers place price ahead
which consumers—our ultimate customers—buy.
of quality? Is it any wonder many producers feel that the
To serve this customer, the WGC is involved in various more wheat they produce (regardless of quality) the better
groups. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is one important off they are financially?
pillar. The export marketing arm of U.S. wheat produc-
That, however, is not the whole story. If we compete with
ers, USW develops export markets by demonstrating the
the least-cost grain coming out of Black Sea countries, we
reliability, choice and value of U.S. wheat in more than
might see our sales increase, but only as our profit margins
100 countries. Funded by U.S. wheat producers’ check-off
decrease. Our marketing efforts at the WGC and USW
dollars that are managed by 19 state wheat commissions,
emphasize quality along with a high yield because it is
as well as through cost-share funding provided by USDA’s
ultimately value, not price, that drives our core markets.
Foreign Agricultural Service, USW is responsible for
creating and maintaining foreign demand for the wheat Yes, our wheat costs more than wheat from Russia, but
we produce. The Washington Grain Commission has two its quality is unassailable. Not to mention our customers
seats on the board of USW. Randy Suess and I currently can depend on it arriving in a timely fashion in the condi-
represent Washington growers on the board. Randy was tion we promised (but that’s for another column).
recently elected chairman of USW, and his one year term There can be no doubt that research, in all its different
will start this summer. forms, is the “bread” of our efforts here at the WGC, but if
The WGC staff is constantly gathering data about that’s the case, then marketing is the “butter.” It is impera-
Washington’s wheat crop. This information is used to an- tive the two go hand-in-hand for us to succeed as farmers.
swer questions directly from potential buyers and to pro- Thanks to the fine staff at the WGC and USW, growers can
vide USW with necessary marketing information. In addi- rest assured commissioners know which side the bread is
tion, Chief Executive Officer Tom Mick and Commission buttered on.
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 53
Ready, set, FYI
Along with the Washington State Crop
Improvement Agency, Oregon State
University and AgriPro (Syngenta),
Washington State University announced
it will join in sponsoring a Northwest
branch of the Farmers’ Yield Initiative
(FYI). The cost of sponsorship is $5,000
and will be accomplished through the
university’s research foundation. Ralph
Cavalieri, associate dean of the College
of Agriculture at WSU and director of the
Agriculture Research Center, said the edu-
cational effort, which is reinforced with a
penalty hammer, is worth the cost. “The
purpose of FYI is to focus industry atten- Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.
tion on the value of scientific research
as well as the value of using certified
seed,” Cavalieri said. “Another focus is
High seas detour
to encourage compliance with existing Some grain shipments from the U.S. and Europe are adding up to 12 days to their
travel time in order to avoid the risk of pirates. The ships, which ordinarily would
seed laws.” FYI advertises a tip line that
transit the Suez Canal, are sailing instead around South Africa’s Cape of Good
can be used to report brown bagging
Hope. The journey may be longer, but it’s safer and might even cost less as a result
of federally protected seed, and in the of premiums of $10,000 a day or more that insurers are levying on ships sailing
Midwest, where FYI is well established, anywhere close to the pirates’ Somalia base. As ships move further out to sea to
court cases worth millions of dollars have avoid the brigands, the pirates have adapted by using mother ships that go further
been brought against those who have into the Indian Ocean to pick off their targets. More than 600 mariners are currently
broken proprietary seed laws. One of held hostage in Somalia where ransoming crews and ships has become something
FYI’s advertisements lists companies and of a national industry. Maritime piracy is estimated to cost the world economy
farmers who have been caught illegally upwards of $12 billion annually.
using seed, along with the message, “The
Brace for the big switcheroo
Plant Variety Protection Act allows for
the recovery of all legal costs plus triple
damages from those found guilty. Don’t This year’s cooling of the surface waters of the tropical Pacific off
expose yourself to the risk of a trial in the coast of South America is the most pronounced since
Federal Court!” As a result of the estab- accurate record keeping began in 1973. Among other
lishment of a Northwest branch of FYI, things, the La Niña is being blamed for floods in eastern
farmers can expect to see more educa- Australia, mudslides in Sri Lanka and Brazil and even for
tional material coming to their homes the closure of the Panama Canal due to flooding. (The
and in the publications they read. first time that’s happened since it opened in 1914.)
With Washington wheat farmers Elsewhere, La Niña is being blamed for drought. But
already having the highest certified nothing lasts forever. While experts say the La Niña
influence is on the wane, most believe an El Niño will
seed use in the nation, it is unlikely the
not replace it until 2012 or even 2013.
sort of lawsuits that have plagued the
Midwest will occur here. NOAA photo showing cool (blue) and warm (red) regions in
the Pacific Ocean during January 2011.
54 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WGC REVIEW WL
Speculators, climate fuel concerns
The chief executive officer of Unilever, the home, personal care
and food company with 163,000 employees around the world, says
speculators are driving up prices “for short term profits at the expense
of people living a dignified life,” adding that such an approach is “dif-
ficult to understand if you want to work for the long-term interests
of society.” Paul Polman also said he is so concerned about climate
change and water scarcity that Unilever questions whether Greece
and Spain will have enough water in the coming decade to “guarantee
us a tomato harvest that our business needs.”
GMOs and insects: No problem Adult Bedbug
(5.5 mm long)
Remember the researcher who claimed that GMO corn would devas-
tate butterfly populations? Ultimately, other researchers discounted
his science, and there’s been nary a peep about the impact of geneti- A teachable moment?
cally engineered crops on insects. Until now. The news from a new You can’t pay the general public to care about agricul-
Anglo-Swiss research project is positive. Looking at the impact of ture’s on-going battle against the critters that eat their
GMO wheat on insects, the team concluded that crops, but let one of nature’s bugs bite them and it is
battle stations. Enter the bedbug. Years after virtually
“while genetic modification has consider-
going extinct thanks to DDT, the bugs are back with
able ecological effects, the differences
a vengeance. While resistance is something farmers
between the GM wheat strains and have been fighting for years, the public is just now
their non-GM counterparts are similar being educated in how resilient insects can be. As a
to the differences we find between con- result of repeated sprays of the same chemical, a natu-
ventional wheat strains.” Bottom line? ral selection process has created super bedbugs that
“Within this context, there appears have, among other things, nerve cells better able to
to be no ecological problems withstand chemical effects, higher levels of enzymes
associated with the geneti- that detoxify lethal substances and thicker shells that
cally modified wheat lines block the insecticides. Tests show today’s bedbugs
tested in this study.” can survive pesticide levels a thousand times greater
than a decade ago.
Health care may hinge on wheat decision
Whether the health care act passed by Congress in 2009 is constitutional or not may hinge on a case brought by a wheat
farmer in 1942. Roscoe Filburn, a Dayton, Ohio, farmer was fined by the Agriculture Department for exceeding his govern-
ment imposed quota for winter wheat production. He sued, taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Although
Filburn received subsidies, he didn’t feel the government could limit how much he could plant, especially when the wheat
he grew didn’t leave his premises. He planted 23 acres of wheat with only an 11-acre allotment under the Agricultural
Adjustment Act. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Filburn. The justices said global markets were affected
because Filburn grew his own wheat and didn’t have to buy it from others. His contribution might be small, the Supreme
Court said, but “taken together with that of many others similarly situated, it is far from trivial.” The court has since used the
commerce clause to uphold the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1972 Clean Water Act, among others. The constitutionality of
national health insurance may hinge on Filburn because, just as the farmer’s decision potentially affected global markets,
not buying insurance would affect the national health care market, defeating efforts to spread risks and costs over a larger
population. Several lower court rulings have agreed with that premise, but other decisions have argued the Filburn case is
not applicable to the health care debate. Expect to hear about Filburn when the national health care policy makes it to the
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 55
WL WGC REVIEW
Everybody’s got problems
China is frequently portrayed as an economic juggernaut, but
the U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman (who recently an-
nounced his resignation), said the country’s domestic challenges
can’t be ignored. One of the biggest hurdles the country faces, said
Huntsman, is “transitioning 800 million farmers into a world in which
(China) only needs 200 million farmers.” (Which is 198 million more
farmers than the U.S. needs to produce enough food for 300 million
Americans and many more overseas).
Shame on you!
A survey conducted by General Mills reveals that while 61 percent of Americans
believe they consume enough whole grains in their diet, really only 5 percent do.
U.S. dietary guidelines recommend three daily servings of at least 48 grams of whole
grains each day. The problem is that many people don’t know exactly what a whole
grain is—only 55 percent could correctly identify it on a food label. (FYI—whole
grain contains all three parts of the grain: endosperm, germ and bran.) Whole grains
are associated with a reduction in heart disease and certain cancers, and they can
benefit diabetes and weight management.
A family affair
The Wall Street Journal calls Cargill “tight lipped” and “one of the largest but least
known U.S. corporations.” The mystery surrounding the huge company is because
the Cargill family never took their company public, a decision motivated, its manag- Reply hazy
ers say, by seeking to avoid Wall Street’s
short-term expectations. The company —try again
was founded in 1865 when William If only there were a Magic 8 Ball for the
Wallace Cargill, the son of a Scottish sea wheat industry. Is there a possibility of
captain, purchased his first grain ware- a food price shock? Signs point to yes.
house in Iowa. Today the company is Is there a possibility the 2011 harvest
responsible for 25 percent of all U.S. grain will be adequate for all? Outlook
exports. As secretive as the company is, not so good. Along these lines, the
it can’t stay out of the news. Recently, International Grains Council has
it purchased the grain exporting infrastructure of what was the Australian Wheat increased its estimate for global wheat
Board from Agrium for $1.1 billion. Now, Cargill has announced plans to give up its production by 23 million metric tons to
majority stake in Mosaic Co., a leading phosphate and potash seller it created in 670 mmt, mainly attributed to better
2004 for around $1.7 billion. It will turn a handsome profit in the process. Its shares of weather in Russia. Nevertheless, that’s
Mosaic are said to be worth $24 billion. Some of the profits will go to family members not expected to be enough to reduce
who have reportedly been unhappy with the mediocre returns they have received in wheat prices which analysts predict
the past. will top $9 a bushel this year and
remain above $7 a bushel until 2012.
Darn lists Meanwhile, the European Union’s farm
spokesman said that while it is unlikely
ConAgra is blaming at least a portion of their recent decline in earnings on consum- there will be a repeat of the food crisis
ers shopping from lists and making more quick trips to the store instead of stocking of 2008, the era of cheap food has
up as much. The chief executive officer of the company said consumers are “being ended. He said the new plateau will be
as value conscious as we’ve ever seen.” As a result, ConAgra did not get the lift on its much higher than was established in
promotions that it would have normally expected to see. the first part of the 2000s.
56 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WGC REVIEW WL
The end is near!
Lester Brown, the founder of Worldwatch and the Earth
Policy Institute, claims the planet is one poor harvest away
from chaos. “Things could start unraveling at any time
now, and it’s likely to start on the food front,” he said in the
process of promoting his new book, World on Edge. In the
book, Brown writes that archeological records of earlier
civilizations indicate that more often than not it was food
shortages that led to their downfall. He suggests the world
is experiencing a “food bubble” that is currently being
sustained by things like overpumping aquifers, overplow-
ing land and overloading the atmosphere with carbon
dioxide. “The question is not whether the food bubble will
burst, but when,” he said. Brown paints a picture of how
one failed harvest could spark a grain shortage that would
send prices skyrocketing, cause spreading hunger and
result in the collapse of governments. “With confidence
in the world grain market shattered, the global economy
could start to unravel,” he said.
A roller coaster few years It’s a bird,
You can’t read the news lately without getting caught up in the
rising buzz over commodity prices. Among other things, the UN’s
it’s a plane, it’s. . .DUST!
Food and Agriculture Organization said a “food-price shock” was The level of dust in the atmosphere has doubled over the
possible with a basket of staple commodities, including wheat, last 100 years according to scientists who examined core
rice and corn, jumping above the peak set in June 2008, dur- samples from glaciers, lake bottoms and coral reefs. Part of
ing the last run-up in prices. The World Food Programme (WFP) the additional dust comes from human activities like con-
reports it is nearly $3 billion short this year in the fight against struction and agricultural burning, but climate change it-
global hunger, an amount that is likely to grow as food prices self has also reportedly increased the world’s dustier land-
keep rising. The head of the WFP said when people are hungry scape. But dust isn’t necessarily all bad. The African dust
they have three options: they revolt, they migrate or they die. that blows out of the Sahara is thought to stimulate plant
The president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, called food- growth in the Amazon by bringing phosphorus across the
price volatility a threat to global growth and social stability. A Atlantic and depositing it in Brazil. And some dust, which
Rabobank analysis predicted fears of rising food prices would is rich in iron, falls in areas of the ocean nourishing sea life
encourage governments to get more involved in the market in there. Dust also cools the land below by reflecting sunlight
2011. A Japanese investment bank, Nomura, recently compiled a back into space and by helping clouds form.
list of countries that would be devastated by a food crisis, which
it described as a prolonged commodity price spike. Among other
things, they calculated their list on the basis of GDP per capita
in U.S. dollars and the percentage spent on food within house-
holds. The top 10 countries in the greatest jeopardy, include
Bangladesh, $497 per capita income, 53.8 percent of household
income that goes to food; Morocco, $2,769, 63 percent; Algeria,
$4,845, 53 percent; Nigeria, $1,370, 73 percent; Lebanon, $6,978,
34 percent; Egypt, $1,991, 48.1 percent; Sri Lanka, $2,013, 39.6
percent; Sudan, $1,353, 52.9 percent; Hong Kong, $30,863, 25.8
percent, and Azerbaijan, $5,315, 60.2 percent. For the record, the
U.S. GDP per capita income is $47,000 of which about 10 percent
is spent on food.
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 57
In the business of building leaders
By Scott A. Yates and domestic and international trips
Anyone wanting a list of Eastern Washington wheat industry movers AgForestry arranges are priceless, but it’s
and shakers could do no better than consult the membership rolls of the the network of people he encountered
Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation. during the program that really made the
Incorporated in 1977 with its first class launched in 1978, AgForestry, as
the organization is affectionately known by those who have participated “The program introduces you to leaders
in its two-year curriculum, will be enrolling its 34th class next October. you might never meet otherwise so that
Although tweaks have been made to the program over the years—the big- when an issue arises you’re not afraid to
gest of which was reducing its class size from 30 to 24 and limiting its time call the aide to U.S. Senator Patty Murray
commitment from 71 days to 59 days—its emphasis on networking has because you know her—or the chief of
remained rock solid. staff to the governor, because you’re on a
first-name basis. The networking thing is
For Dana Herron, an alumnus of Class 2 who serves on the Washington
huge,” he said.
Grain Commission and operates Tri-State Seed in Connell, the seminars
Derek Schafer, a wheat grower from
Ritzville who is in Class 32, agrees.
“AgForestry is not just about knowing
what to say when you have an issue come
up for your industry, it’s about knowing
who to call and learning how to make
those connections before you have a prob-
lem,” he said.
Dave Roseleip, president of AgForestry,
has been with the program since the be-
ginning. As a young employee of what was
then called the Intermediate Credit Bank
(today Northwest Farm Credit) he was in
Class 1. He has been on the staff since 1984.
He agrees the contacts made outside the
program are invaluable, but he emphasizes
the networking that occurs within classes.
When you’ve been president of an organization for 27 years, there’s plenty of time to get a few
“We still believe that 50 percent of the
plaques for exemplary service and photos with important politicians—that’s the decorating learning experience over the two years is
scheme in Dave Roseleip’s AgForestry office. the networking with other participants in
58 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WGC REPORTS WL
(Above) Copper is not a commodity you instantly associate with the AgForestry program, but when Class 32 took a trip to Chile, which is the world’s number
one producer of the metal, a trip into a copper mine was almost a requirement. (Below) It may not be the type of attire Derek Schafer, right, ordinarily wears
at home on the farm outside Ritzville, but when you’re in Washington, D.C., in front of the White House, a suit and tie isn’t so out of place. Fellow AgForestry
member, Jason Ragan, left, manages tidelands for Taylor Shellfish near Shelton.
the program, during class hours and after hours. That’s one reason online
(internet based) seminars never caught hold. People want to be with people
and network with them face to face,” he said.
Initially funded with a $200,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation,
today AgForestry operates its $560,000 budget from donations made by its
alumni and organizations (including the WGC, which provides $10,000 a
year). Roseleip said these individuals and organizations believe in “pay-
ing forward” the building of “human capital for their industries and rural
“It’s not a very personal way of saying it, but that’s what we’re doing.
That’s the reason we have universities and other institutions in which soci-
ety can make an investment in its young people,” he said.
Although those selected to participate in the program pay $1,500 a year for
the opportunity (rising to $2,000 a year for class 34) the cost is still a bargain.
The AgForestry organization invests another $15,000 per individual over
the two years. Not only are all accommodations paid for, so are airfares to
Washington, D.C., and an international location, and most meals.
Roseleip sees the organization taking individuals who have already
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 59
WL WGC REPORTS
Every AgForestry class likes to think they’re the best one yet—and they It’s not every day a Ritzville farmer gets to talk with one of the world’s pre-
are—said Dave Roseleip, president of the organization. Here Class 32 poses eminent experts on no-till farming, but Derek Schafer had the experience
for a group photo during their international trip to Chile. when he met Carlos Crovetto.
started their leadership process and broadening their Herron remembers that difficulty too and cites his
perspective from a local to international basis, while brother, Chris, for making the opportunity available to
providing them with the enhanced skills to be more ef- him.
fective at any level of their industry or community. That’s “I was way fortunate to have a little brother to support
how it worked for Herron. He entered Class 2 at age 31 me in various efforts for a long time. There’s no way I
in 1982. Two years later, he was nominated to go through would be where I am without him,” he said.
the officer chairs at the Washington Association of Wheat
But fewer wheat growers are applying to AgForestry
nowadays. Schafer was the only one in his group and
Schafer, 35, who is the fifth generation on his family that’s not a recent anomaly. Roseleip believes part of the
farm, already serves on the board of Union Elevator in reason is simply because there are fewer wheat growers
Lind and on the advisory committee of the group helping today than there were 20 years ago. Not to mention the
to design a new deep furrow planter. But he points out average age of farmers in Washington is 57.
that any of these voluntary leadership positions take time
Schafer, however, is hopeful that there will be a turn-
away from his farming operation which means depending
around and more wheat growers will be looking into tak-
on others for help.
ing advantage of the AgForestry opportunity in the future.
“It’s tough to pick an ideal time to do something like
“I’m very encouraged as I look around me and see how
AgForestry. I couldn’t have done it without my father, my
many young people have returned to their rural commu-
mom and my wife. You need somebody to help support
nities since I’ve been back on the farm,” he said.
your family and your operation while you’re gone,” he
Sign up now!
The deadline for applying to Class 34 of the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation is April
30. Although there is no age limit, most AgForestry classes as a whole have an average age between 37 and
39. Participants have been as young as 25 and as old as 56. To be eligible to apply you must be a U.S. citizen
and a Washington resident for one year and be willing to commit 58 days over two years to the program.
Self-employed individuals must demonstrate their ability to be away from their enterprises for the necessary
amount of time. For more information and an application go to agforestry.org.
60 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WGC REPORTS WL
New ag economist puts grain first
COMMISSION FINDS ROOM AT WSU’S TABLE FOR ENDOWED CHAIR IN SMALL GRAIN ECONOMICS
By Scott A. Yates in Madison, he has been hired to fill the Endowed Chair
It doesn’t take a chart of commodity prices, a graph of in Small Grain Economics to be located in the School of
currency fluctuations or a table of transportation costs to Economic Sciences within the College of Agricultural,
figure out why the Washington Grain Commission (WGC) Human and Natural Resource Sciences in Pullman.
chose to spend $2 million to fund a chair in Small Grains The 52-year-old arrives this summer with a pedi-
Economics at Washington State University. gree that has at least one commissioner gushing over
Wheat farming has always been as much about econom- Washington’s good fortune. “I didn’t think we had any
ics as agronomics, but since WSU did away with its ag chance in the world to get this guy,” said Randy Suess.
economics department in 2004 by combining it within the A commissioner representing Whitman County, Suess
larger School of Economic attended seminars presented
Sciences, small grain grow- by Fortenbery and had lunch
ers’ flow of information with him when he came to
about their financial wel- WSU for his interview. “He’s
fare has slowed to a drip. already doing much of the
Explanations of federal same work in Wisconsin, and
programs like ACRE and he’s already got an endowed
SURE have come to depend chair there. He’s going to be
on economic experts from able to step right in and imme-
other universities. Even diately fill our needs. I think
questions closer to home, we’re really lucky.”
like landlord vs. tenant Luck did have something
shares, wind power, biofuel to do with it. Fortenbery grew
Randall Fortenbery, recently hired to fill the Washington Grain Com-
opportunities, cropping mission endowed chair in Small Grains Economics at Washington State
up in Montana and received
systems and direct seed University, is shown on the right during a meeting in Bangladesh. his first two degrees from
versus traditional farming Montana State University.
financial comparisons, have Although he spent part of his
not received the attention many growers would like. youth in Alaska, where his father flew bush planes, his
Changing the status quo, however, was not something family has since relocated to Big Sky Country.
the university could do on its own. Funding cutbacks have A map reveals Fortenbery’s decision to take the job at
made it hard enough to hold onto current faculty, let alone WSU. Pullman is 522 miles from Lewistown, Mont., where
establish new positions. his father lives, versus 1,133 miles from Madison, UW’s
Enter the WGC. home base. Fortenbery’s siblings are even closer, with
homes near Flathead Lake. Not to mention the fact some
In a memorandum of understanding signed May 2009,
of his colleagues in WSU’s economics school also have
WSU and the WGC laid out the framework for the new
Montana roots. “They reached out and encouraged me to
economic chair, specifying the individual hired would
apply. I was very happy where I was. I probably wouldn’t
conduct “for the primary benefit of Washington small
have applied to a different university. A lot of things just
grain producers, a vigorous and impactful outreach and
came together,” he said.
applied research program directed at the current high-
priority issues facing the small grains industry.” Fortenbery, who received his Ph.D. from the University
of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, has held the Renk Chair
This is the third endowed chair funded by the com-
in Agribusiness at UW since 2002. Although most of his
mission. The WGC shared in creating the Vogel Chair in
career has been spent in academia, there was a two-year
Wheat Breeding and Genetics with the state and WSU. It
period where he served as director of research for a com-
is held by Kulvinder Gill. The Cook Chair in Cropping
pany that managed speculative and hedging accounts for
Systems, which was underwritten with a $1.5 million en-
some of America’s food giants. While he enjoyed the job,
dowment from the WGC, is held by Scot Hulbert.
he didn’t like the commute or Chicago, where the position
Randall Fortenbery is the latest addition to an exclusive was based.
group. A professor at the University of Wisconsin (UW)
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 61
Friend or foe?
Everyone from the President
of France to the neighbor in
the coffee shop has strong
opinions about commodity
speculators. The newly hired
small grain economist at
Washington State University is
Randall Fortenbery said it’s
true speculators impact price
Randall Fortenbery and his wife are empty nesters which makes the transition from the University of Wis- levels, but that’s different from
consin to Washington State University an easier process. saying speculators manipulate
Fortenbery’s youth included a plow- as he sets to work on various wheat prices.
ing phase—snow plowing, that is. He projects. “People look for simple
quickly graduated to a speedier way “There’s a lot of commonality be- explanations. Corn went up.
down ski slopes, ultimately attending tween the subjects I’ve already investi- Speculators were in the mar-
Montana State University on a skiing gated and the sort of opportunities and ket. Hence speculators caused
scholarship while studying zoology. He challenges Eastern Washington wheat the rise. But that doesn’t
subsequently switched majors to natu- producers are going to be faced with explain causality,” he said. “It’s
ral resource economics which whetted as we move forward,” he said. “Not not that speculators cause
his interest in commodities and trade. to mention, there are a lot of strong price levels, but that they enter
He stayed at Montana to receive his relationships about what drives prices and exit the market with a lot
degree in applied economics. between all commodities.” of money which causes volatil-
Although his family didn’t farm, Unlike 10 or 12 years ago, when the ity. Blaming the speculator is
Fortenbery is not uneducated in the biggest problem producers faced in the too simple an explanation for
joys of agriculture. His grandfather market was their customer, Fortenbery the actual dynamics.”
had a farm in Kentucky where picking said today it’s the entire global econom- Furthermore, Fortenbery
tobacco was a summertime pursuit. He ic picture that must be taken into con-
also knows something of the pressures said, even if speculators do
sideration. Markets are all integrated, impact markets, it’s quite a
on the small businessman, having oper- and success in any single commodity
ated a consulting business in bioenergy, trick to design a policy that
has less to do with the specific com-
a real estate development company addresses that impact without
modity than a whole host of variables,
and a company that helped people sell imposing an even bigger cost.
including what’s happening to the
products on eBay. Japanese yen versus the Argentinean “I don’t think they drive
Reviewing a list of Fortenbery’s aca- peso versus what the crop looks like in prices over the long run. I still
demic publications over the last several Australia versus Ukraine, etc. think market fundamentals
years reveals he’ll have a definite shift Nevertheless, Fortenbery also be- matter more over the longer
of emphasis from Wisconsin to Eastern lieves there are some basics that always term, but in the short run, they
Washington. For instance, he is not apply. Like a farmer knowing his cost of will move prices,” he said.
likely to conduct another evaluation of production. And that isn’t necessarily a
the price linkage between the futures
“There are going to be times when bad thing for growers who can
and cash markets of cheddar cheese or
the market isn’t rewarding you for your take advantage of the swings.
fluid milk. The effect of ethanol produc-
efforts, and it will be about minimizing Of course, as Fortenbery put
tion on corn prices is also in his rear
losses rather than maximizing profits. in, care is required in exercis-
view mirror, not to mention soybean
I’m not saying you should know it in ing those opportunities “and
and sugar analysis.
the context of a marketing plan, but not thinking we know where
On the other hand, his core expertise anybody who owns a business should that price is going to peak and
in contracting strategies, forecasting have a good idea what it is costing to holding out for the highest
prices, currency exchange, second produce a crop one season over another price.”
generation biofuel analysis and federal in order to evaluate how they are do-
programs, will hold him in good stead ing,” he said.
62 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WGC REPORTS WL
Researchers go to pot!
(In search of wheat secrets)
Coleoptile is key to success
in 8- to 12-inch rainfall region
Everyone knows it’s hard to fool Mother Nature,
but with enough work and determination, a team of
wheat researchers are discovering you can imitate
Washington State University Research
Agronomist Bill Schillinger, along with two agri-
cultural research technicians at the WSU Dryland
Research Station near Lind, have spent the last five
years attempting to mimic, in seven-inch-tall pots,
what Mother Nature accomplishes with ease on
several million acres across Eastern Washington.
Specifically, they are duplicating the deep seeding
conditions of winter wheat in the eight-to-12-inch
It is not as easy as you might think. With $54,000
worth of annual funding from the Washington
Grain Commission, Schillinger and technicians Tim
Smith and Steve Schofstoll have spent years in pur-
suit of just the right steps and necessary ingredients
to ensure success. After much trial and error, the
trio believe they’ve hit upon a near perfect combina-
tion of operations necessary to evaluate what hap-
pens when a wheat seed germinates and emerges
under deep furrow planting conditions.
For those unfamiliar with deep furrow planting,
there are several things to know. First, in the dry
dryland region of Eastern Washington, it’s so dry
farmers only take one crop off their land every two
years. The fallow year allows the land to store ad-
ditional moisture. The second thing to know is that
no other farmers in the world plant winter wheat as
deep as they do in east central Washington.
“Scientists are blown away when we give pre-
sentations at conferences. They do a double take.
‘Did I hear you right? Is the wheat seedling actually
emerging through six inches of soil?’ You see why
Creating the right conditions
we’re on our own out here. No one else is facing
to test a wheat plant’s coleop-
planting conditions like this,” Schillinger said. tiles requires precise measure-
Anybody who has a garden knows that planting a ments. Steve Schofstoll weighs
the base layer of soil before it
seed six inches under the earth is a death
is compressed to 200 psi.
Text and photos by Scott A. Yates
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 63
WL WGC REPORTS
Creating just the right mois-
ture level to imitate deep fur-
row planting in the dry sum-
mer fallow region takes some
doing. Tim Smith handles
the hydration chore using a
sprayer and a cement mixer as
Steve Schofstoll watches. Both
are technicians working for
Washington State University
Agronomist Bill Schillinger (in
sentence for that seed. It may germi- crop, both of which reduced poten- most overnight by all farmers in the
nate there in the dark, but its shoot tial yield. low rainfall region. Schillinger, who
will never break the surface. So, Introduced in 1965 by Bob grew up on a farm 20 miles from the
how are wheat farmers in Douglas, Zimmerman of Almira, Wash., the Lind Station, laughs when he recalls
Adams, Franklin, Benton and parts HZ was a technology adopted al- that his father almost never bought
of other counties accomplishing the new equipment—but he bought a set
impossible? of new HZ drills.
There are a couple of explanations. “All of the sudden, farmers who
First is the wheat seedling’s amaz- frequently had to wait until mid to
ing coleoptile. This is the thin sheath late October to plant with moisture,
that surrounds the emerging first could go deep enough to plant into
leaf of the plant. The coleoptile is carryover water in late August or
what pushes out of the seed toward early September,” he said.
the surface. Different varieties of But the HZ and 150 needed a
wheat have different length cole- winter wheat variety with a long
optiles, and it’s that length which coleoptile, and by 1965, the dwarf
accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the genes Rht1 and Rht2, were being
plant’s push out of the ground. inserted into varieties. These semi-
The John Deere HZ and dwarf varieties produce more grain
International 150 deep-furrow drills versus volume of straw and were
are another reason farmers are able very responsive to nitrogen, but re-
to plant as deep as they do. Before Washington State University Research Agrono- ducing the height of the wheat plant
the HZ and 150, farmers in the low mist Bill Schillinger has been working for years correspondingly reduced the length
rainfall region mostly dusted in their to develop a better method to measure wheat of the coleoptile.
coleoptiles. He knows the problem with wheat
winter wheat or waited until rain fell The HZ and 150 drills needed a
emergence very personally. His father farmed
in mid-October or later to plant their about 20 miles from the Lind station. partner—a variety that emerged
64 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WGC REPORTS WL
well from deep depths. Moro, a 1966 club wheat release
out of Oregon State University, fit the bill. Another variety,
Buchanan, a hard red winter from WSU at Lind, came
along in 1989. Neither has the semi-dwarf gene.
That’s the history. The future is taking place inside a
portion of the Lind Station greenhouse that’s been con-
verted into a soils lab. There, Smith, who works full time
with Schillinger and is also a full-time wheat grower, and
Schofstoll who is also a minister of a Lind church, are
looking for the coleoptile that has it all: length, speed and
Kulvinder Gill, who holds the Vogel Endowed Chair in
Wheat Breeding and Genetics at WSU, and post-doctoral
scholar, Amita Mohan, have been crucial partners in the
search for the model emerger, not to mention breeding
that trait into a semi-dwarf line. Gill has already bred the
coleoptile trait from Buchanan into Xerpha. Schillinger
confirms pot research shows the tweaked Xerpha emerges
as fast as Buchanan. Gill and Mohan have also provided
Schillinger’s team with 690 different wheat lines from
around the world for the express purpose of testing how
they emerge from deep planting depths.
“Imagine 50 seeds of 690 lines with four replications,”
Schillinger said, noting that during field trials every
person in Gill’s and Schillinger’s program was in the field
to see if and when each of the 138,000 seeds emerged. This
was done every day for six to eleven days after planting.
But the hard work paid off. One line, #368, consistently
emerges better than all the rest, coming up a day or even The amount of moisture in the soil and the length, strength and
two days before Moro and Buchanan, both in the field speed of the coleoptile all determine whether a wheat plant will
and in pot experiments. Speed is important because it be able to push up through five inches of dry soil. Technician
could spell the difference between having to replant or Steve Schofstoll looks over a recent experiment. Eight seeds are
not. That’s because the quicker a plant emerges, the less planted in each pot. Only the strong survive.
likely it will be subject to a crusting rain—the equivalent
of a metal plate blocking the wheat plant’s emergence into
the sun. Gill is now in the process of breeding the #368 Both enable bigger heads, larger root systems and stronger
emergence trait into a more modern variety. stems while reducing height. That’s Gill’s goal for wheat.
A separate project Gill is working on independently of Whichever approach works, the development of a wheat
Schillinger’s team is being funded by a $1.6 million grant variety with longer coleoptiles will mean more money in
through the National Science Foundation in partnership farmers’ pockets and require less work as a result of not
with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Called the having to re-seed as often. It may even mean farmers will
BREAD grant, for “Basic Research to Enable Agricultural be able to mine moisture deeper than the six inches they
Development” it addresses coleoptile length using a dif- prospect today (eight inches in the Horse Heaven Hills).
ferent mechanism. Here, Gill’s goal is to introduce a novel Schillinger is hopeful an HZ and 150 replacement
dwarfing trait into wheat. deep-furrow drill, which is under development on several
Although semi-dwarf wheat varieties have made farm- different fronts by several different designers, will permit
ers millions of dollars since the first one, Gaines, was farmers to avoid the frustration that comes when they take
introduced in 1961, Gill believes the Rht1 and Rht2 genes all of the depth stops out of the current configuration and
may come with a yield penalty. Sorghum employs a differ- are still a half inch from moisture.
ent mechanism of dwarfing that’s been used for decades “We’re thinking with really big packer wheels we are
in commercial production, and similar mutants have been going to create killer furrows, and hopefully, we can go
identified in corn, though not widely used commercially. even deeper,” he said
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 65
WL WGC REPORTS
How do those
coleoptiles do it?
MOTHER NATURE IS
A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW
Drop a non-farmer into a fallow field of
Shano silt loam, a soil that in August is as
dry and fine as talcum powder, and his first
question may be, “How can anything grow
The key, however, is not about getting
wheat to grow in it, but rather, through it. Look closely and you can see the joint where the coleoptiles ends and the first leaf begins. In
most instances, it is actually the first leaf that pokes its way through the soil—propelled by the
At least through those top five inches which coleoptile.
serve as an insulation blanket to the moisture
concealed below. higher or lower depending on their experiment. Again, 525
grams of soil is compressed to 200 psi.
Tim Smith and Steve Schofstoll, technicians working
under Washington State University Research Agronomist The seed is planted at this point, but again, after trial
Bill Schillinger, have spent the last five years devising a and error, it was determined that some help was needed.
method that will allow them to evaluate more precisely Schillinger believes the hydraulic press glazes the surface
how winter wheat plants find their way through one of of the soil making it difficult for the roots to get started. As
the most inhospitable environments in the world. On a a result, the roots grow outward along the surface, rather
recent February day, the pair demonstrated the method than down.
that allows them to evaluate the length, speed and power Various methods to overcome this glitch were tested. In
of coleoptiles. the end, the pair solved the problem by using a putty knife
A part of the wheat plant that few know how to pro- to cut four pie-like slices into the moist soil at the bottom
nounce (co-lee-op-tile), let alone appreciate, the coleoptile is of the pot to duplicate the natural fractures which occur in
like a booster rocket that allows a space craft to obtain the a soil profile. Eight seeds are planted in these factures. In
velocity necessary to escape earth’s gravity. Booster failure? order to get good seed to soil contact, the pair use a preci-
No orbit. Coleoptile failure? No plant. It’s that simple. sion planting device—the eraser portion of a mechanical
pencil—to press the seed to the proper depth.
Smith and Schofstoll start by stockpiling several tons of
dry soil from the Lind Station to use as inventory during Next comes a one-inch layer of slightly lower moisture
the year. The first step in the pot making process is hydrat- soil that is not packed to duplicate what falls back onto
ing the soil to a level they want to evaluate. Through ex- the seed during the field planting process. It provides an
tensive trial and error the technicians have come up with a interface between the seed and the five inches of dry soil
system which includes a “reserve layer” of about 15 percent that is then poured in up to the brim of the container. And
moisture. This is more than what is found in a field, but it there you have conditions in a pot intended to mimic those
also serves as the stand-in for six feet of soil profile. that are found across a wide swath of Eastern Washington
The hydration is accomplished by putting the soil in a
cement mixer and misting in a prescribed amount of water Depending on the strength, speed and the length of a
with a sprayer. Clods are screened and a sample is taken to variety’s coleoptile—not to mention the amount of mois-
ensure the moisture level is appropriate. A precise mea- ture added to the soil—the plant either breaks the surface
surement of moist soil, 525 grams, is added to the pot, then or runs out of gas and dies. Thirteen percent moisture is
it’s over to a hydraulic press. Here, the soil is compacted almost a guarantee of success. Anything below 10 percent
to 200 psi, or about the density found in the field below in the base layer usually fails.
the depth of seed placement. This reserve level is one inch In a field, a grower can expect that about 50 percent of
thick and hard enough that pushing a finger into it barely his seeds will germinate and emerge out of the ground.
leaves a dent. That’s close to the experience Smith and Schofstoll are hav-
The next step is forming a base layer at the moisture level ing in their pots.
found at depth of seed placement in the field—between 10 “We’re not mimicking nature perfectly, but we’re pretty
to 12 percent, although Smith and Schofstoll sometimes go close,” Smith said.
66 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WGC REPORTS WL
Doug Engle Craig Morris
(WWQL) in Pullman, Wash., is gaining in popularity. There was more atten-
dance this year than at any time since the group formed in 1995.
The founding premise of the WQC is straightforward. By establishing a
technical committee of volunteer collaborators, the council solicits and evaluates
advanced generation wheat breeding lines from all breeding companies, provid-
How wheat lines perform for end ing feedback on individual breeding lines and more general information as to
users is just as important as yield the technical requirements of wheat end users.
By Dana Herron The job for Doug Engle begins early in the season. Doug is responsible for
contacting the breeders in the western U.S. from both the public and private
sectors to solicit the advanced lines they have scheduled for release. Samples of
ers live for yield.
these lines are milled at the WWQL where they are judged on their milling per-
formance. These scores are important because they give a very specific indica-
like that July day
tion of how the individual lines will perform in a commercial mill. Cumulative
they cut their
ash curves are measured and break flour yield is calculated on each line.
combine into a
field and discover The flour is subsequently sent to the cooperating companies that have agreed
what their eyes to serve as the WQC’s technical advisory committee. These companies evalu-
have perceived. A bumper crop and ate flour quality and conduct bake tests at their facilities. The hard wheats are
a big payday is theirs. evaluated for specific uses, primarily pan breads and cakes. The soft wheats are
evaluated for their performance as cookies, sponge cakes and noodles. These
And yet, emphasizing yield over
evaluations and testing procedures have been standardized by the American
all other factors is a very dangerous
Association of Cereal Chemists International.
way for farmers to think about the
wheat we produce. In fact, it may be Not all of the participants do all of the tests because many times the coop-
the equivalent of financial suicide. erator specializes in certain product lines, like bread or pancakes. One thing I
learned is that a sticky pancake can be a pain in the pan.
This reality was brought home to
me at the Pacific Northwest Wheat While you might think that varieties within specific classes are pretty close to
Quality Council (WQC) meeting equal, that is far from the case. The fact is wheat performance between individ-
held recently in Seattle. The group is ual varieties varies widely. How would you like a pancake that simply will not
a non-profit organization comprised come out of the pan, or a loaf of bread that takes twice as long to mix and can
of wheat breeders, cereal chemists, only be used as a doorstop after you bake it? Or what about a bread that dis-
producers, marketers, inspectors, integrates when you try to put peanut butter on it or a noodle with such a dark
processors and users of wheat. color that consumers turn up their noses at it, not to mention a cookie that’s flat,
The meeting, organized by Doug thin and has the texture of a sun-baked desert? This is the reason the industry
Engle and Craig Morris from the has established end-use quality targets for the performance of wheat varieties
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s by class.
Western Wheat Quality Lab It’s also why a 200-bushel-per-acre wheat with very low end-use quality is
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 67
Feb. 3, 2011 PRESS RELEASE
WL WGC REPORTS
Contact: Tom Mick
a dangerous thing. Some grain buyers will argue the cus- Egyptian protests potentially
tomer doesn’t ever get a single variety; they purchase a imperil PNW wheat exports
blended product so there is no apparent harm in promoting a
Eastern Washington wheat growers are watching events un-
200-bushel yield monster. That may be fine when the percent- fold in Egypt as if their livelihood depended on the outcome—
age of production is low, but when enough people begin to and it does. The country imports 10 million metric tons of wheat
produce the 200-bushel-per-acre variety, the aggregate mar- annually, and the Northwest has been a large supplier in most
ket class is affected negatively. of the last 10 years.
We can no longer compete in the world market on the basis Nat Webb, chairman of the Washington Grain Commission, is
of price alone. Our salvation has been and will continue to particularly concerned over what the next government in Egypt
be the quality of our wheat. Because we are dependent on will look like. He clearly remembers what happened when the
exports for market access, we will certainly have to compete Iranian revolution took place
on the basis of value, and value is the result of producing a in 1979: the market for soft
wheat with a high degree of functionality. white wheat grown in the
Pacific Northwest went from a
The university and private wheat breeding companies that million tons a year to nothing.
were represented at the conference encompassed virtually
“An Egyptian government
all of the public and private entities that are actively engaged unfriendly to the U.S. could
in releasing varieties in the Pacific Northwest. With feedback have a direct impact on our
from the processing and manufacturing industry, breeders wheat sales, not only because
establish benchmarks and quality targets for their respec- Egypt is a large customer,
tive breeding programs. An issue the industry must address, but also because a lot of
however, is the fact that, unlike university breeders, no man- commerce for the region
date for compliance with the quality targets currently exists passes through the Egyptian- Randy Suess talks to the media.
for private companies. They are free to distribute varieties controlled Suez Canal. A
with little or no functional quality. worse case situation would be what occurred in Iran,” he said.
The value of the collaboration seen at the WQC translates The Middle East region imports 34 percent of its domestic
wheat needs and consumes 15 percent of the world’s wheat
directly to the farm gate price received by farmers. For exam-
imports. With revolutionary fervor spreading to other countries,
ple, when a wheat variety is grown in an area of high rainfall
the potential changes in the world wheat market are enormous,
or irrigation, it will typically have a higher total ash content Webb said. He particularly cited Yemen, where protests have
because of the minerals in the water. High ash translates also occurred. The country on the Arabian Peninsula consis-
directly to lower flour extraction rates. The millers and bakers tently imports 12 percent of the Pacific Northwest’s soft white
have been watching their profit centers long enough to know wheat crop. More than 850,000 metric tons of soft white wheat
where varieties are grown that make their specific product from Washington, Oregon and Idaho has moved to Egypt and
best. A 1 or 2 percent higher extraction rate may not seem Yemen so far this year.
like a lot, but when you mill millions of bushels of wheat it “Given this year’s average price, that’s nearly $200 million,”
amounts to millions of dollars of profit or loss. Webb said.
Domestic and foreign buyers alike know where these cher- Tom Mick, chief executive officer of the WGC, said the
ries are in the marketplace when it comes to functionality, Egyptian protests prove once again that world events have the
and they will pick them. While farmers seldom see the price potential to dramatically impact the applecart of wheat produc-
differences, these companies’ preferences are often reflected tion in Eastern Washington.
in their bids to the country. “We are not an island,” he said. “We are part of an intricate
If there was an award for the unsung hero of the Pacific system that moves almost like an organism. Poke it in one place
Northwest wheat industry, those who work to coordinate and you’ll get a reaction somewhere else.”
and host the Wheat Quality Council, not to mention those Recent reports indicate the Egyptian wheat market is con-
who take the time out of busy schedules to attend, would all tinuing to function as normal, with ships arriving at ports and
be deserving of the prize. They are serving the industry by being unloaded on schedule. Mick is hopeful that will continue,
acting as our resident quality assurance consultants, a sort of but he remains fearful that riots could damage grain infrastruc-
ture and make food shortages even worse.
Underwriters Laboratory of the wheat industry. By evaluat-
ing how the wheat we produce will perform before it enters Not all is doom and gloom, however. Webb said it’s possible
the market place, they help us expand our market share in a the region’s current difficulties could wind up encouraging
world that is increasingly discriminating about the quality of countries to increase their wheat imports as a way of bringing
food prices down. This would satisfy at least one of the protest-
their food ingredients.
68 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WGC REPORTS WL
AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/REUTERS
An Egyptian man carries bread from a bakery in Cairo.
Egypt puts WGC in the headlines
Making an international story relevant to a local audi- consistently imports 12 percent of the Pacific Northwest’s
ence is an important goal of the media. The Washington soft white wheat crop. How the governments of these
Grain Commission was able to help a variety of news countries react to the demonstrations taking place has the
outlets broker this connection as turmoil consumed Egypt. potential to directly affect Eastern Washington farmers’
Although the demonstrations were taking place half bottom lines.
a world away, the WGC issued a press release explain- Tom Mick, chief executive officer of the WGC, spent sev-
ing how the tumult had the potential to upset Northwest eral hours on the telephone after news outlets learned of
and U.S. grain markets. Egypt is the world’s largest wheat the importance of the Egyptian market to Northwest grain
importer—taking 9.8 million metric tons this year to feed growers. He conducted a dozen radio interviews, four
its 80 million people, most at subsidized prices. newspaper interviews and one television interview.
For the last two years, the country has been getting the Randy Suess, a WGC commissioner from Whitman
majority of its wheat from Russia, but drought there last County and vice-chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates,
summer resulted in increased sales from the U.S., includ- conducted an interview with CBS National News Radio.
ing the Pacific Northwest. And it’s not just Egypt that is Dana Herron, who also serves on the commission, sat
the focus of concern. The Middle East imports 34 percent for an interview with a Tri-City television station. “These
of its domestic wheat needs and consumes fully 15 percent opportunities don’t come along very often, and when
of the world’s wheat imports. they do, we need to be prepared to educate listeners to the
Yemen, which has also seen rioting this year as its peo- importance of the Eastern Washington wheat crop on the
ple react in sympathy to news out of Tunisia and Egypt, world stage,” Mick said.
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 69
STEM RUST AND THE BARBERRY PLANT BREW A LETHAL COMBINATION
By Tim Murray, Xianming Chen and Diana Roberts
T here are three different types of rust on wheat: stripe,
leaf and stem. Any Eastern Washington farmer knows
that stripe rust is his main antagonist, so what’s with all
the hubbub over stem rust, a disease that typically doesn’t
ornamental plant that was introduced across the United
States by settlers, the barberry is an essential ingredient
in the complicated life of the stem rust fungus, Puccinia
graminis f. sp. tritici, which for simplicity sake, is referred
cause widespread damage in the Northwest because it’s to as Pgt.
ordinarily too dry and temperatures are too cool for opti- In addition to wheat or barley, Pgt requires the common
mal disease development? barberry (not to be confused with the cultivated Japanese
There are a couple of answers to that question. First, barberry, which is resistant) to complete its life cycle.
epidemics do occur in localized fields and cause signifi- Although the rusty red spores on wheat and barley are the
cant damage in some years. For instance, in 2007, two most obvious and damaging stage of the disease, the cycle
fields of spring barley with severe stem rust were identi- of Pgt begins on the innocuous evergreen garden shrub.
fied in Stevens and Whitman counties and resulted in As the wheat plant is maturing and/or dying from
significant yield loss (more than 6 percent in the Stevens stem rust, Pgt enters into a black-colored spore stage that
County field). The second reason for concern is because, enables it to survive the winter —much like a seed. This
although the Pacific Northwest may not be ground zero stage also inspires the other common disease name —
for stem rust infection, it has been shown to be an incuba- black stem rust. The black spores lie dormant in the wheat
tor for infections that can not only transmit the disease to straw during winter and germinate in spring to produce
fields as far away as Minnesota, but can actually produce another type of spore that is carried by wind to nearby
new races of the stem rust fungus. In other words, the barberry bushes.
Northwest could create a homegrown Ug99.
There, the spores penetrate leaves and fruit and produce
How is that possible? Ask the common barberry. An
70 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WGC REPORTS WL
a structure not visible to the naked
eye in which the fungus undergoes
sexual reproduction, resulting in
producing pinkish-colored spores.
These spores are visible on infected
barberries and are carried by wind
relatively short distances to wheat
or barley plants where they infect
and begin producing the red-colored
spores. The reddish spores are
produced as long as conditions are
favorable and can spread thousands
of miles to infect wheat and bar-
ley plants and start another cycle.
Multiple cycles can occur during the
season, leading to greater damage.
The closer barberry is to a field,
the earlier stem rust begins in the
growing season. An earlier start for
the rust results in more cycles of Starting in 1944, Washington State saw more than 200,000 barberry bushes taken from more than
disease and greater damage. Sexual 12,000 properties, mostly in Spokane and Whitman counties.
reproduction on the barberry also
results in more races of the stem rust producing states with the goal of Despite the extensive eradication
fungus; more races make it more dif- reducing the development of new effort in Washington, however, the
ficult to breed varieties with effective rust races on barberry and delaying barberry was not completely elimi-
and durable resistance. By removing the onset of stem rust epidemics. The nated, and it has made a comeback
the barberry from this love triangle, eradication program was a resound- in some areas, which is why stem
the impact of stem rust is reduced, ing success, and as a result, three rust continues to occur sporadically.
which was the rationale for a 63-year or fewer stem rust races have been hen stem rust occurs, samples
national effort to eradicate barberry found east of the Rocky Mountains are collected and sent to the
in the last 10 years.
bushes. USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Lab in St.
B eginning in 1918 and con- Washington State became one of Paul, Minn., for analysis where Dr.
tinuing until 1981, more than the states slated for the eradication Yue Jin, of the U.S. Department of
400 million barberry bushes were effort in 1944, and more than 200,000 Agriculture Cereal Disease Lab and
eradicated from 13 northern wheat- bushes were taken from more than the foremost stem rust expert in the
12,000 proper- nation, determines which races of
ties when the the stem rust fungus are present.
program ended, A race is a strain of the stem rust
most in Spokane fungus that is able to infect different
and Whitman wheat or barley varieties. Races are
counties. Idaho similar to strains of flu viruses—each
and Oregon did year different combinations of flu vi-
not officially rus genes combine in different ways
join the barberry to create new strains able to over-
eradication come immunity in people exposed
program, but to other strains of the flu. In plants,
there were lim- the ability of a race to infect a specific
ited eradication variety depends on which resistance
efforts in both genes the variety contains and which
states. “virulence” genes the race contains.
Red spores on wheat and barley are the most obvious and damaging stage Since virulence genes enable
of stem rust.
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 71
WL WGC REPORTS
PNW, demonstrating that the spread
of stem rust from the PNW to the
Great Plains is possible.
Based on new information and
the concern over the diversity of
races found recently in the PNW, a
decision has been made to revisit the
barberry situation and more closely
monitor stem rust races to better
understand the risks. In the past
three years, historical records and
reports of stem rust outbreaks have
been used to look for barberries. So
far, more than 20 locations have been
identified where barberries are pres-
ent in Whitman, Stevens and Latah
counties. And that is barely scratch-
ing the surface.
With funding from USDA-APHIS,
the PNW Barberry working group
has been formed consisting of state
Pinkish-colored spores are visible on barberries infected by the stem rust fungus. Eventually, the and federal scientists and extension
spores are carried by wind to nearby wheat or barley plants where they infect the grains and begin
personnel from Idaho, Montana,
producing the red-colored spores.
Oregon and Washington to investi-
the stem rust fungus to overcome resistance genes in the plant, a race with gate reports of stem rust and barber-
virulence gene one is able to cause disease on varieties with resistance gene one. ries and to educate those working in
Breeders take advantage of this situation by creating new combinations of resis- the wheat and barley industry about
tance genes so the stem rust fungus cannot cause disease. Unfortunately, there this forgotten foe. The goal is to
are as many virulence genes as there are resistance genes, and the barberry is continue identifying new outbreaks
Mother Nature’s breeder for the stem rust fungus, assembling new combina- of stem rust so we can monitor
tions of virulence genes. the race situation and try to locate
barberries so landowners are aware
In the 2007 outbreak in the two barley fields in Eastern Washington, more of their presence and can eradicate
than 16 distinct races were found. Of great concern was race QCCL (#9) with them. You can help with this work
virulence to stem rust resistance gene 24 (Sr24). Virulence to Sr24 had only been by contacting us if you suspect stem
found once before in North America, and it is one of the virulence genes in a rust or barberry.
new race evolved from Ug99 that is of concern because this resistance gene has
been used widely in breeding programs around the world. More information is available at
In addition to the race virulent to Sr24, some Washington races had other
virulence genes in common with Ug99, which are not present in the Western
Dr. Tim Murray is a professor in the
Hemisphere. It is these shared virulence genes and presence of the barberry
Department of Plant Pathology at
that raises concern for the potential to produce a “homegrown” Ug99 that could
Washington State University,
spread from the PNW to other wheat-producing areas of the North America.
Xianming Chen is plant pathologist
When the stem rust fungus reproduces on barberry, it’s like shuffling a deck
and rust expert at the U.S. Department
of cards, and the virulence genes form many new combinations. It’s the many
of Agriculture Agricultural Research
different “hands” dealt to these races that makes breeding resistant wheat and
Service in Pullman and Diana Roberts is
barley varieties difficult.
a WSU extension agronomist based in
U ntil recently it was thought that the red stem rust spores spread only with-
in the region. However, stem rust spores produced in the PNW can spread
to other regions. For example, in 1989 race QCCJ was discovered in Filmore
County, Minn. The disease lab in St. Paul concluded that QCCJ originated in the
72 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WGC REPORTS WL
Ancient disease becomes present-day threat
S tem rust of wheat and barley is a disease whose
impacts are mentioned in the Bible. In the first half of
the 20th century, stem rust was one of the most important
plant diseases worldwide. The northern Great Plains of
the U.S. and Prairie Provinces of Canada were the most
seriously affected areas in North America owing to their
favorable climate. Damaging epidemics in spring wheat
were frequent from the late 1800s into the 1950s. Total
yield losses due to stem rust in Minnesota, North Dakota
and South Dakota were estimated at more than 100 mil-
lion bushels in 1935 and more than 150 million bushels,
combined between 1953 and 1954; that represents nearly
$3.7 billion in lost production (adjusted to 2009 dollars) in
those three seasons alone (Fig. 1).
Stem rust was also a major problem in other parts of
the world including Mexico, Australia, Africa and parts
of Asia. Norman Borlaug, father of the green revolution Fig 1. Damaging stem rust epidemics in spring wheat were frequent
and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was hired by the from the late 1800s into the 1950s. North Dakota and South Dakota had
Rockefeller Foundation to work in Mexico on stem rust of estimated losses at more than 100 million bushels in 1935 and more than
150 million bushels, combined between 1953 and 1954; that represents
wheat. The organization he worked for eventually became
nearly $3.7 billion in lost production (adjusted to 2009 dollars) in those
the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center three seasons alone.
(CIMMYT), and Borlaug’s impact in controlling rust dis-
eases spread to other parts of the world.
Stem rust was ultimately brought under control using
an integrated approach of growing varieties with effective
disease resistance and earlier maturity, combined with
near-eradication of common barberry, the alternate host of
stem rust. As a result of these practices, the last major epi-
demic of stem rust in the U.S. occurred in 1955, and stem
rust’s impact during the second half of the 20th century
was relatively small. This feeling of security led to a sense
of complacency that stem rust was no longer a threat—that
is until 1999.
That year, a new strain of the stem rust fungus was
discovered in Uganda, causing disease on previously
resistant wheat varieties, hence Ug99. Since then, Ug99 has
evolved new, related races that have spread within eastern
Africa, across the Red Sea into Yemen and into Iran (Fig. 2).
Of great concern is the fact that Ug99 and its relatives are Fig. 2. Since 1999, Ug99 has evolved new, related races that have spread
able to infect over 80 percent of the world’s wheat varieties. within eastern Africa, across the Red Sea into Yemen and into Iran
Initially, there was great concern that Ug99 or its relatives
would spread to the U.S. through natural pathways and response on the part of breeders and pathologists to con-
threaten wheat and barley production. Scientists have front this new threat. In addition to increased emphasis
since concluded that the risk of natural spread is very low, on developing varieties with effective disease resistance,
but that human-mediated spread via air travel is a high there is increased emphasis on monitoring stem rust out-
risk for introduction. breaks in the U.S. for the appearance of new races, Ug99 or
The discovery of Ug99 and realization that it has the otherwise.
potential to cause widespread damage stimulated a global
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 73
WIDE WORLD OF WHEAT rising vegetable prices are not his affair. Sharad Pawar said the
decision to plant a particular vegetable crop is made by the
farmers at the local level and the hike in their prices is a local
matter. India is undergoing a massive onion crisis as a result of
unseasonable rains which laid 70 percent of the crop to waste.
Floods and earthquakes notwithstanding, PAKISTAN is
MIKHAIL METZEL/AP PHOTO
pegging its 2010/2011 wheat crop to be as much as 23.5 mil-
lion metric tons, short of its 25 mmt target, but still enough to
export surplus. Although last year’s floods devastated large
areas of farmland, it also increased fertility in wheat growing
areas, said an official of the food ministry. Pakistan is Asia’s
third largest wheat producer. The country consumes about 22
Officials in RUSSIA are upbeat about the coming year’s
wheat crop, claiming they’ll bin 45 million tons, which is about
3.5 mmt tons more than they harvested during the drought-
plagued 2010 harvest. Alexander Korbut, vice-president of the
Moscow-based Grain Union, said the government will be ready
to resume exports around October. Russia banned exports last
year after the 2010 grain harvest fell by 37 percent from the
preceding year due to the worst drought in half a century.
Governments of the Middle East are carefully watching unfold-
ing events in Tunisia and Egypt and do not plan on adding to
their woes by increasing food costs. ALGERIA, for one, has
sped up its purchase of wheat to avoid shortages. The country
already experienced several days of rioting triggered by rising
food prices. As a result, Algeria’s government cut the cost of
some food and has increased the amount of soft wheat it sup- Quinoa Real grown near Uyuni on the Bolivian Altiplano (3653 meters).
plies local markets by 18 percent each month. Mt. Tunupa is in the background
Total U.S. wheat exports to BRAzIL exceeded 400,000 U.S. wheat farmers are experimenting with quinoa, a staple
metric tons, boosting U.S. imports to their second highest level of the ancient Inca civilization, but it’s the high altitude plains
in eight years. Alas, none of the wheat is from the Northwest. of BOLIVIA that are really getting a boost from the popu-
Distance is one larity of the high protein, high iron crop. In a sandy and arid
problem. The other area known as the altiplano about two miles above sea level,
is Brazil’s ban on TCK American demand for the quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is
Smut. Although a U.S. changing farmers’ lives. A few years ago, 16 ounces of Andean
government study Natural quinoa retailed for $2 at Trader Joe’s. It’s now $4 and
determined the dis- the price keeps climbing, making it harder for the indigenous
ease could never gain people of Bolivia to afford their popular breakfast.
a foothold in Brazil,
A couple of months ago, the JAPANESE company Marubeni
that hasn’t altered
was talking about expanding its Asian reach. Now it’s another
the country’s ban
Japanese company’s turn. Mitsui & Co Ltd. announced it will
on wheat from the
acquire another 44.2 percent stake in the Brazilian grain broker,
Multigrain, for $225 million to secure food grain to supply
other things, TCK
the Asian market. It now owns 88.4 percent of the company.
needs a snow cycle to
“Mitsui will strive to strengthen agricultural production and
propagate, something Brazil’s tropical climate doesn’t have.
grain distribution business in Brazil, which has high potential-
The Agriculture Minister of INDIA said his job is to ensure the ity of food supply, and to secure a stable supply of grain from
country has adequate food grains like wheat and rice and that Brazil mainly to Asian markets,” the company release said, add-
74 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
ing it wants to strengthen its grain business because the global speculation in the grain market. The trading company is being
demand for grain is expected to increase as world population established to help stabilize Korean food prices.
grows. Those long, thin loaves of bread known as a baguette are a
Will this be the year CHINA’S grain production falls? Every symbol of FRENCH culture. No wonder. It’s estimated that
year, it seems, the 23 million baguettes are consumed every day in the country
Chinese media or eight billion a year. With wheat prices rising, so is the cost of
report of drought baguettes. Every 30-euro increase ($40.70) for a ton of wheat
in wheat grow- raises the cost of flour in a 250-gram baguette by about one
ing regions of the cent. In the last year, wheat futures in Paris have gone from 128
country, but timely euros per ton to 251 euros ($340) per ton. Nevertheless, the
rains ultimately wheat in a baguette represents less than 10 percent of its cost.
save the crop. As INDONESIA, Asia’s second largest wheat importer after
a result, produc- Japan, takes about 5.4 million metric tons of wheat annually.
tion has risen for Lately, the country has been hunting for alternative supplies as a
the last six years. result of floods in Australia that rendered much of that country’s
This year might production unsuitable for milling. Australia usually supplies
be different. The In China, 71-year-old farmer Qi Aiyun checks on her
at least half of Indonesia’s demand. To help facilitate imports,
withered wheat plants.
nation’s three top Indonesia announced it is eliminating tariffs on wheat, soybeans
wheat producing regions: Henan, Shandong and Hebei, which and cattle feed. Indonesia has 14 flour mills which can process 7
are responsible for more than half of China’s wheat output, mmt of wheat, up from four mills 10 years ago.
have been suffering from drought for four months. Rainfall
is down more than 80 percent from the annual average, the
SAUDI ARABIA may not be growing wheat anymore—
having depleted their aquifer in the quest to become self
worst since 1970, and dry weather and higher than average
sufficient—but the country is going to be storing wheat—a lot
temperatures are forecast well into spring. The rising price of
of it. The Middle
food is fueling inflation which has a similar effect to increas-
ing the undervalued Chinese currency, something the U.S. has
been calling on China to do administratively.
about 3 mmt of
A paper company in TAIWAN announced it has developed wheat each year,
a technique to make paper from wheat and rice stalks that wants to double
squeezes far more paper out of the same amount of biomass. its current six-
The chairman of Yuen Foong Yu said the company will intro- month reserve.
duce its revolutionary tech- The process is
nology to a plant in China in expected to take
2011. The normal wood pulp three years. As GET TY IMAGES
manufacturing process uses part of the plan, A Saudi combine.
220 pounds of lumber to wheat storage
make 20 kilograms of paper. capacity will be increased by 550,000 metric tons in four cities
Using the new technique, over a 3-year period. The country’s current storage stands at
the same quantity of stalk 2.5 mmt.
pulp can reportedly be
turned into four times as
UKRAINE’S agricultural minister has called on the World
Bank and other global institutions to create a grain reserve
to smooth out price swings. “We believe these are measures
KOREA is a paragon of that need to be taken to avoid unrest and to avoid fear. What’s
government/private com- necessary is to undertake more steps to avoid this fluctuation,”
pany cooperation and the latest move to set up a U.S.-based said Mykola Prysyazhnyuk.
grain procurement company is one more example of that. Led
Add tiny MOLDOVA to the list of countries that will stop
by the state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corp. and joined
exporting wheat amid fears of a food crisis. The country, which
by a consortium of four local companies with grain and food
is located between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the
know-how, the country will establish a grain trading company
north, exported wheat to Italy, Cyprus, Russia, Romania and
in Chicago. The company will import 100,000 tons of grain in Bangladesh last year, but it apparently went overboard. The
its first batch during the second half of 2011 with the expecta- agriculture minister said the country currently has 135,000 tons
tion of importing four million tons of grain through the new of wheat in reserve, slightly less than it needs until the 2011
company by 2020. A government official said excessive reliance harvest. Agriculture is the main industry of Moldova, which is
on major dealers has made Korea vulnerable to international one of Europe’s poorest countries.
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 75
“I always feel like a member of the
geriatrics association whenever I’m
on Capitol Hill.” Eric Maier, WAWG vice-president
and Ritzville farmer in regards to the mass of young people
working in congressional offices.
“My goal is to turn
our NRCS staff from
regulators into Maytag
“I am concerned repairmen.” NRCS Chief Dave
by the federal White in regards to the high amount
government’s new of administrative duties regional staff
encounter, rather than being in the
requirement on the field helping solve problems.
states to expand the
This will not only
threaten the quality
of care for our most
vulnerable citizens, it
will also open a hole
in Washington State’s
budget, putting us at
risk for higher taxes
and spending cuts in
other vital programs.”
U.S. Representative Cathy
McMorris Rodgers after a meeting
with Governor Christine Gregoire
reaffirming their commitment to
the RE AL
work together in a bipartisan way
rotect the RE AL fish in Act
to address the health care issue. “We want to p t the Endangered Species
wha we have been
s w ith, an d that’s what hin a
has charged u t protect computer fish w it
oing. We cann Brett Blankenship, WAWG national leeling data.
rd ing NOA A Fis
76 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
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WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 77
Brit and Wyatt Egbert harvesting at the Cavadini Ranch and helping brand
McKay Ranch, both in Douglas County
photos by Connie McKay
Kids at work
Cody Luiten plays flag football for
his little league team, and his older
brother, Jeffrey, helps Grandpa with
the leaves this fall on the family farm
near Wilbur, Wash.
photos by Don Bodeau
78 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011
WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011 79
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AG-TEQ 80 Micro-Ag 7
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Butch Booker Auctioneer 6, 35 NU-CHEM 44
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Class 8 Trucks 77 ProGene, LLC 79
Connell Grain Growers, Inc. 45 RH Machine 7
Connell Grange Supply 9 Rain & Hail Insurance 80
Connell Oil Co. 6, 34 Reardan Seed Co., Inc. 79
Cooperative Ag Producers, Inc. 77 Ronald J. Perkins, CPA 9, 52
Country Financial 21 Scales NW 81
Custom Seed Conditioning 79 Smith Air 13
Diesel & Machine 52 Spectrum Crop Development 7
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Farm & Home Supply 7 State Bank Northwest 37
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Helena Chemical–CoRoN 21 T & S Sales 6
Hermance Insurance Agency, LLC 6 The McGregor Co. 11, 77
Inland Oil & Propane 45 The Whitney Land Co. 27
Jess Ford 15 Tri-State Seed 30
Jones Truck & Implement 13, 41 Walter Implement 80
Kincaid Real Estate 6, 35 Washington State Crop Improvement Assoc. 31
Landmark Native Seed 52 WestBred, LLC 13
Lange Supply Co., Inc. 77 Western Reclamation 9
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82 WHEAT LIFE MARCH 2011