Publication Date July 20, 2015 | Associated Press

Drought shrivels quality of Northwest’s winter wheat

United States

Intense drought conditions have shrunk the kernels and disrupted the proteins of winter wheat crops in Montana, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, the region that produces a fifth of the U.S. harvest.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) classified a large percentage of the region’s winter wheat as below-average quality on Monday.

Northwest farmers are nervous that the uncharacteristically low quality of their product could slash already declining prices.

Blake Rowe, CEO of the Oregon Wheat Commission and Oregon Wheat Growers League, said the heat wave in May and June caused Oregon’s prominent soft white winter wheat to develop more protein than is desirable for baking products.

“We’ve had dry years in the past, but if anything is different this year, it’s been warmer and warmer for longer,” Rowe said. “Growers feel like this is a little out of the norm for a hot, dry year"