USA - Early rains a setback to wheat harvest

24.06.2022 205 views

The monsoon has arrived, and for wheat farmers like Dennis Palmer, it’s a little too early.

“It’s really screwed things up,” he said Wednesday.

In November, Palmer sowed 700 acres of Desert Duram wheat, a little more than usual.

But before his contracted harvesters could finish combining, the Father’s Day storm rolled in.

While the 185 or so acres of standing wheat was just beginning to dry, Tuesday’s drencher set harvest back once more.

“We’ve never seen the monsoon this early,” Palmer said. “I’m 68 years old, and I’ve seen a lot of monsoons.”

He pointed out the irony of the longest day of sunlight of the year becoming the first day of rain.

Besides turning fields to mud and prolonging the sale of a crop, the rain can also affect the grain’s color.

A kernel of wheat usually has a light brown color, Palmer explained.

When it gets rained on, it turns white, or “bleachy,” he said. And that means the folks buying the grain won’t pay as much.

The reason kernel color is so important is because most of Arizona’s wheat ends up in pasta.

And discriminating customers expect constancy.

Kernels of wisdom

Although the 2022 wheat harvest is going a little differently than other years, Arizona farmers have grown wheat for more than a century.

The superior quality of Arizona’s durum wheat is recognized globally. About half of Arizona’s patented Desert Durum crop is exported.

But before it makes it that far, it has to get plucked from the field. And weather can, as Palmer said earlier, really screw things up for wheat farmers.

On Monday, Randy Norton, the local extension office’s interim regional director for Cochise and Graham counties, sat in his pickup as rain poured down, talking on his cell.

“Rain is always a two-edged sword,” he said. “It’s much needed and much wanted by the local growers,” he said, but he admitted that storms can wreak havoc for wheat farmers.

“[The] crop gets wet, and they can’t harvest it,” Norton said.

If harvest gets too prolonged, wheat can “shatter,” or drop its valuable kernels, he added.

Then there’s the wind issue, which can “lodge” fields, laying the stalks over and flattening them. Combines may have to run against the natural direction of the crop to salvage the harvest, causing crop loss.

Excess moisture can also cause pathogen growth on the wheat heads, where the kernels lie.

“Most of the wheat I’ve seen there in the [Gila] Valley is pretty short,” Norton said, to minimize the impact of wind.

The right hue

Eric Wilkey has worked for Arizona Grain in Casa Grande for 33 years. He’s seen a lot of bushels of wheat come and go through the private company, which acts as a wholesaler for local wheat producers. Most of the wheat they process is exported for premium pasta flour, and Wilkey knows what buyers want.

It isn’t bleached-out kernels, either.

“We’re concerned at this point that we don’t have repeated rains on this crop,” he said Wednesday.

He estimated about 20 percent of the area’s wheat crop was still in the field; he thinks the monsoon is a week to 10 days earlier than normal.

A sprinkle of rain here and there won’t affect a harvest, but sustained rains will cause the wheat to lighten, Wilkey said, which produces a pasta that is a pale instead of a golden yellow.

Imagine the way that pasta changes in boiling water, he suggested. It gets lighter the more water it absorbs.

Overall, Wilkey said there hasn’t been a large impact to wheat quality from the rain; however, Palmer said he would have to separate his two harvests into different bins, as one would be a higher grade than the other due to the drenching.

Once wheat is transferred to bulk storehouses like Arizona Grain, it’s inspected by USDA workers who grade the quality, weigh the grain, measure moisture and protein content, and examine the ratio of foreign or included materials. Farmers are paid according to the color, weight, protein content and cleanliness of the wheat.

“Protein [content] is typically an indicator of either quality or quantity or both,” Wilkes said.

Imagine your kid’s macaroni and cheese, he continued. Lower quality pasta is made with lower-quality wheat, which leaves specs called “checks” in the finished product. These look like light-colored dots in the pasta, and they indicate a low gluten strength which makes the pasta come apart in boiling water.

Wilkey acknowledged the ticket to the perfect pasta really starts with the grower: He’s worked with multi-generational farms during his three decades at Arizona Grain.

“The Arizona farmer is really somebody pretty special,” Wilkes said.

“A grower, he’s gotta be a scientist, and a gambler to some degree,” he explained.

“Mother Nature does factor in.”

Source -


India - More than 15 lakh hectares of crop area in Maharashtra hit by latest spell of heavy rain

More than 15.10 lakh hectares of crop area in Maharashtra has been affected due to the heavy rain which has been lashing the state for the last few days. Soyabean, cotton, tur, and paddy are some of the major crops which have been affected with the figure expected to go up as the survey continues.


France - Heat and drought: producers on high alert

Heat episodes are succeeding one another in France and with them comes drought, causing significant repercussions for farmers. Climatic hazards are leading to a drop in yields for many crops and quality is also being affected.


Moldova - August rains affect table grape quality

After a two-month drought in early August, it rained in almost all regions of Moldova. Vine growers note that after a short rainy period, the cracking of berries has begun on many table grape plantations.


UK - Riverford reservoirs running dry, Devon fruit growers alarmed

Guy Singh-Watson from the Riverford Organic Farmers vegetable growing company in Devon has said the ongoing dry spell has caused its reservoirs to completely run dry. He called it "the worst year in 35 years" in terms of water levels.


USA - California stone fruit growers remain watchful following recent rains

Following late last week’s rain, stone fruit growers in California are trying to determine what the impacts of that rain are. “I think it was a quarter of an inch of rain but that’s an unprecedented amount of rain for us at this time of year,” says Jon McClarty of HMC Farms in Kingsburg, California.


Germany - Drought and sunburn worry fruit growers

At this point in time, Brandenburg's fruit growers are struggling with a drought, sunburn and higher costs. Yields are good overall, but there are cutbacks in certain fruit varieties due to the weather.


USA - Western Growers applauds $4 billion in drought-relief funding

In response to the inclusion of $4 billion in drought-relief funding for the Colorado River Basin in the Senate spending bill, Western Growers President & CEO Dave Puglia issued the following statement:


Spain - Broccoli and cauliflower season in Murcia, one of the most difficult in years

The broccoli and cauliflower producing sector of the Region of Murcia has been particularly affected during the latest campaign and its initial forecasts for the next one are negative.