Why Are California Growers Choosing Wheat?

It may not be the first crop that comes to mind when you think of California’s agriculture, but it is an important part of California economics. It is a valuable crop planted as a rotational crop to help manage disease and improve soil conditions.

Our Weather
The sunshine paired with a warm and dry environment produces grain with low moisture content, consistent kernel size distribution, high test weight and big plump kernels. Many common crop diseases in other areas of the U.S. or countries with wetter climates is lower or absent in California's main wheat-growing regions .
Rotational Crop
Wheat is grown to improve soil structure and soil physical properties. Also, to suppress weeds, diseases and other pests of crops that are to follow wheat in the crop rotation system being used.
Grain to Bread
Most of California's wheat production is localized in specific regions with key grain handlers assisting with the process of harvesting, cleaning, and storing wheat. This way we are able to identify the region and wheat varieties required to satisfy the supplier's needs, in turn, meeting the growing demand for traceability.
Food Safety
Agricultural regulations in California are among the strictest in the world and promise to deliver safe food products grown under environmentally friendly practices.
Agricultural History
Wheat was the major crop planted in the 19th century. By the 1950's, the state's wheat output exceeded local consumption. While in recent years wheat production has declined, wheat continues to be an important rotational crop for many growers in California.
Wheat + Irrigation
About 85% of our wheat can be produced under irrigation. Among the major benefits of wheat grown under irrigation are high (and more consistent) grain yield, test weight and kernel size/plumpness (mainly due to avoiding drought stress).

Learn About California Wheat Classes

Hard red winter wheat is an important, versatile bread wheat with excellent milling and baking characteristics. It has medium to high protein (10.0 to 14.0 percent), hard endosperm, red bran, and strong and mellow gluten content. It is used in Artisan and pan breads, Asian noodles, hard rolls, flat breads, and general purpose flour.
Hard white wheat has a hard endosperm, white bran, and a medium to high protein content (10.0 to 14.0 percent). It is used in instant/ramen noodles, whole wheat or high extraction flour applications, Artisan and pan breads, and flat breads.
Soft white wheat has low protein (8.5 to 10.5 percent) and low moisture, and provides excellent milling results. It is used in flat breads, cakes, biscuits, pastries,  crackers, Udon-style noodles, and snack foods.
Durum wheat is the hardest of all wheat classes with a high protein content (12.0 to 15.0 percent), yellow endosperm, and white bran. It is used in pasta, couscous, and some Mediterranean breads.

Hard Red & Hard White Wheat

The California Wheat Commission Quality Lab wheat variety classification is:
  1. Extra Strong -WB9350 (high stability, highly elastic dough). Excellent as a blending wheat.
  2. Very Strong – WB9229, SY-Sienna (elastic). Blending wheat for baked products.
  3. Strong – WBJoaquin Oro, Yecora Rojo, UC-Central Red, SY-Blanca Grande 515 (well balanced dough strength). These varieties can be used 100% or for blending. Perfect for Pan-Breads and Tortillas. 
  4. Medium – UC-Patwin 515 and HP, and SY-Summit 515 (more extensible dough). Perfect for products such as tortillas. Patwin 515 is great for artisan breads. 

California Wheat gives you high water absorption, high viscosity, and based on the classification above, most high stability and gluten strength. We also focused on varieties that contain low PPO. The key is to know your varieties and the blending percentage for the final baked product. If you have any more questions about our wheat, please call or visit us. 

Remember that most of California Wheat is sold as Winter Wheat; however, genetically it is Spring Wheat. To learn more about last year’s Crop Quality Report, click below:

Desert Durum®

Desert Durum ® is a registered trademark and a registered certification mark. This mark is owned by the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council, and the California Wheat Commission.
When used in commerce, Desert Durum® is intended to certify that grain that is at least 90% produced under irrigation in the desert valleys and lowland of Arizona or California. The annual Desert Durum® crop usually becomes available for shipping or purchase in the month of June.
Desert Durum® is generally available to domestic and export markets as “identity preserved” grain by specific variety. This allows customers to acquire grain that possesses the quality traits that meet their specific needs. The identity preserved, traceable system allows customers to contract varieties and volumes with grain merchandisers who sell certified seed to experienced growers who maintain varietal identity throughout the planting, growing, harvesting, and delivery processes. Grain merchandisers then store the grain by variety and may ship on the customers’ preferred schedules.
For more information about our mark and permission to use it, click below:

 

Desert Durum Wheat Provides High-Quality Extraction and Pasta Products

E. S. Posner (1), B. Fernandez (2), and D.-S. Huang (2). (1) International Flour Milling Consultant, Savyon, Israel. (2) California Wheat Commission, Woodland, CA. Cereal Foods World 51(5):268-272.
Presently, mainly overseas millers and pasta producers are aware of the advantages of the U.S. Desert Durum and are processing it with very good results. Not many U.S. durum millers are using Desert Durum wheat. With relatively few changes in the durum mill, the operative miller can adjust the milling process to use Desert Durum that stands out in its semolina extraction, quality, and economic value potential. Wheat cleaning, tempering time, and roll corrugation are the mail parameters that should be reevaluated and adjusted to supply specific demands for semolina or any other product configurations from Desert Durum. Changes should be made based on elaborate mill analysis that includes the construction of the distribution table and the granulation curves for the leading stages in the mill.

 

Growing Regions

There are hundreds of varieties of wheat produced in the United States, all of which fall into one of six recognized classes: Hard Red Winter, Hard Red Spring, Hard White, Soft White, Durum, and Soft Red Winter. California grows all of the U.S. wheat classes except Soft Red Winter.

Wheat has two distinct growing seasons. Winter wheat is sown in the fall or winter and harvested in the spring or summer; spring wheat is planted in the spring and harvested in late summer or early fall.  Most varieties grown in California are genetically spring wheat varieties, i.e. do not require vernalization. However, since the majority of California wheat-growing regions have very mild winter temperatures, spring wheat can be sown in the fall or early winter. Market classifications typically refer to the season of production, not growth habit, which is why California’s red wheat production is referred to as Hard Red Winter wheat.

Wheat classes are determined not only by the time of year they are planted and harvested, but also by their hardness, color and the shape of their kernels. Each class of wheat has similar family characteristics, especially as related to milling and baking or other food use.

Wheat Research Projects Awarded

Previous research funding offered by the California Wheat Commission can be found on this page.  Reports on these research activities can be found through the indicated hyperlinks.

2013/2014 Research Reports

In the fall of 2013, the California Wheat Commission awarded ten mini-grants ranging from $5,000 to $13,000 each in response to a call for proposals to the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) system. Below is a listing of the winning proposals submitted by Farm Advisors and Specialists from across the state.

Nitrogen Fertilization Practices to Maximize Yield and Protein

The California Wheat Commission also awarded three $5,000 internships in the 2013/14 grant year: Sonia Rios worked with Farm Advisor Steve Wright in Visalia; Jason Tsichlis and Ryan Byrnes were interns for Mark Lundy, Farm Advisor for Colusa, Sutter, and Yuba Counties; and Eric Lin interned with Extension Specialist Daniel Putnam.

2012/2013 Research Reports

A $50,000/year U.C. Riverside project to develop optimal wheat plant root sixe for water and nutrient-use efficiency was approved in FY 2010/11.  Due to delays in contract signing, the researcher continued the project into the 2011/12 year with the original funding.  The first year’s report, for this two-year project, can be found here.
The second year of this project was completed in FY 12/13.

In October of 2012, the California Wheat Commission awarded ten mini-grants ranging from $4,000 to $14,500 each in response to a call for proposals to the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) system. Below is a listing of the winning proposals submitted by Farm Advisors across the state, and links to their reports at year-end.

The California Wheat Commission also provided one $5,000 internship in FY2012/13 for a student working with a Farm Advisor.

  • Sonia Rios, Tulare/Kings County Extension Center, Visalia

2011/2012 Research Reports

A $50,000 U.C. Riverside project to develop optimal wheat plant root size for water and nutrient-use efficiency was approved in FY2010/11. Due to delays in contract signing, the researcher continued the project into the 2011/12 year with the original funding. The first year’s report, for a two-year project, can be found here.

In October of 2011, the California Wheat Commission awarded ten mini-grants ranging from $6,000 to $16,000 each in response to a call for proposals to the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) system. Below is a listing of the winning proposals submitted by Farm Advisors across the state, and links to their reports at year-end.

The California Wheat Commission also provided two $5,000 internships in FY2011/12 for students working with Farm Advisors.

  • Sonia Rios, Tulare/Kings County Extension Center, Visalia
  • Matt Barber, Intermountain Research and Extension Center, Tulelake

2010/2011 Research Reports

In FY2010/11, the CWC Research Committee approved a $50,000 U.C. Riverside project to develop optimal wheat plant root size for water and nutrient-use efficiency. Due to delays in contract signing, the researcher will continue the research for a second year under the original funding.  The researcher’s report to the Commission on the progress of this study can be found here.

And in October of 2010, the California Wheat Commission awarded six mini-grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 each in response to a call for proposals to the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) system. Below is a listing of the winning proposals submitted by Farm Advisors across the state, and links to their reports at year-end.

The California Wheat Commission also provided two $5,000 internships in FY2010/11 for students working with Farm Advisors.

At the December 2010 board meeting, the Commission agreed to pay half of the cost of a planter, up to $10,000, for field research conducted by Kent Brittan, Farm Advisor for Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties. His program evaluates new grain cultivars in four distinct growing areas within the three-county region, providing valuable information to local growers and the statewide wheat research program. The 60-year old planter that Brittan had been using in his trials is worn out, so he approached the Commission for help in acquiring a new one. The new planter arrived in August of 2011 and was formally “launched” at the December 8, 2011 Commission meeting held in Woodland, California.