07/24/13 — Despite low test weight, local millers still taking Wayne County wheat

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Despite low test weight, local millers still taking Wayne County wheat

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on July 24, 2013 1:46 PM


Low test weight wheat produced this season as a result of heavy rains can still be sold to elevators, local experts say.

"I don't know of anybody or any millers that's not working with the farmers to help them sell their crop," said Dan Weathington, executive director of the North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association. "And last time I checked, we had about 200,000 plus acres still left in the fields, but the sun has been shining, so it's probably down from that and closer to 100,000 acres now."

Tyler Whaley, Wayne County crop extension agent, said the quality of this season's wheat is not very good, and in some cases, the grain is lying on the ground, making it difficult or impossible to harvest.

"Usually the average weight of wheat is 55 to 60 pounds per bushel," Whaley said. "I've heard test weights coming in at the low 40s, and some even in the mid 30s."

John Pike, director of operations at Goldsboro Milling, said the company is receiving wheat with weights in the low 40s instead of the usual 60s.

"I'll be honest with you, this quality of wheat isn't something we'd be going out and seeking," Pike said. "But we are taking it and we have a good relationship with the farmers and we're trying to be very fair to the farmers bringing their wheat in."

Goldsboro Milling is accepting the wheat at a reduced price to account for its lost value, Pike said. Moisture levels above 13.5 percent will get a price reduction, while anything under that is safe.

"Sprouting isn't a real problem for us in terms of quality of wheat," Pike said. "But it can affect the test weight and moisture levels for farmers."

The biggest problem with the wheat crop this season, Pike said, is that it narrows options for where farmers can sell their crop.

"(Low test weight) has kicked wheat out as an option for millers," Pike said. "They can't afford to use wheat that is this low of quality in the baking process."

The low test weight of wheat this season is attributed to heavy rains and a lack of warm conditions.

Pike said one positive outcome of all the rain is that "it's making for an outstanding corn crop," despite wheat taking a hit on the price per bushel.

"We've never seen it this wet in the months of June and July," Whaley said. "And neither have older farmers that have been doing this their entire lives. It really is a time to remember in terms of rainfall."

The consequence, Whaley said, is a negative economic impact for farmers and a slimmer payday.

"It all really boils down to the economic impact on the farmers," he said.