U. S. wheat farmers get no significant premium for producing higher quality wheat and have to balance quality factors with yield, disease resistance, and other production factors when they choose varieties.

But internationally, quality is valued higher and may become more important to U.S. growers as they compete for export markets.

“The United States is one of the high quality wheat producers in the world and that gives us a competitive advantage,” said Allan Fritz, a Kansas State University wheat breeder speaking at the recent Big Country Wheat Conference in Abilene, Texas.

“Quality is sometimes hard to define,” Fritz said, “and depends on the end use and even the baker. Currently, protein is a major issue.”

He said no one variety includes all the quality features bakers look for and that factors such as weather also affect milling and baking characteristics.

Wheat breeders are using “wheat from around the world in breeding programs. We have a broad genetic base. Currently, we are working on heat and drought tolerance but universally quality is viewed as an important goal for wheat breeding.”