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Wheat buyers checking quality during Mid-Atlantic tour

Imagine touring a factory and inspecting the quality of the materials that will be used to build your next car. That’s similar to what millers, granary operators and traders will be doing May 31 in Virginia as part of the mid-Atlantic wheat tour.

newspaper“We’re trying to get a snapshot. We’re surveying the crop just prior to harvest, gathering yield and quality information that the millers will use in planning their upcoming purchases,” said Robert Harper, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation grain manager. Farm Bureau has offered a grain marketing service for its members since 1972.

“The majority of the state’s winter wheat crop is ahead of schedule at this point in the growing season, thanks to adequate rains just before harvest,” Harper noted. “Our producers have been able to apply the crop nutrients and protectants as needed in a timely manner, and producers are hoping for good yields.”

As of May 8, 58 percent of Virginia’s wheat crop was rated in good to excellent condition, according to a weekly survey conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Harvesting is expected to begin several weeks early, Harper said.

This is the second year Virginia fields have been included in the tour. Virginia participants will examine fields on the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck to check for signs of disease, take sample test weights and estimate yields. Traders and mill representatives, particularly those from Pennsylvania, will use that information to make their purchasing and milling plans for the year.

“In Virginia we raise soft red winter wheat, which is used in flour for different types of bread, pastries, cakes or crackers. The quality of the wheat determines what type of product the flour will be used for,” Harper explained.

Virginia farmers plant about 240,000 acres on 1,600 farms annually. Wheat is an important crop for farmers who rotate it with corn and soybeans. It offers excellent environmental benefits by keeping farm fields in production over winter months.

The state’s farmers expect to harvest 8.64 million bushels of winter wheat this year with a yield of 64 bushels per acre, up 11 bushels form 2016, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.