Kimberly Cantrell, Texas Wheat Intern

Low protein levels have been reported throughout the state as harvest has progressed this season. This is a concern for farmers looking to get the best price for their wheat as commodity prices have been at historic lows this year.

Plains Grain, Inc. reported an average of 10.2 percent during their weekly harvest tests on May 26. This number is down from the 2016 final average of 11 percent.  According to U.S. Wheat Associates, the 2016 average was down from 12.3 percent in 2015, which was a drop from 13.3 percent in 2014 and 13.4 percent in 2013.

Despite initial reports, experts agree that it is too early to make conclusive assumptions about the hard red winter (HRW) wheat crop as a whole. The current average is based on the first 14 harvest samples and may not be a true indicator of the final protein average. However, some believe that if the HRW protein continues to come in below 11 percent, spring wheat will take the spotlight. Flour mills add the high protein wheat into their blends when a high quality HRW wheat is unavailable.

Protein content is a characteristic used to determine quality of wheat. Higher protein content indicates higher quality, typically earning a higher price. Last week, HRW wheat with a protein content of 12 percent topped $1.08 a bushel over wheat with 11 percent. This is the widest spread between these grades since 2008.

Harvest has been delayed in some areas of the state due to moisture, while some regions have already completed harvest. Therefore, a true estimate of the final protein average is yet to be determined. It is too early to tell how the 2017 harvest will rank in protein content compared to previous years. Producers should remain optimistic about protein levels until conclusive data is recorded.