Our Grains

Eastern Washington’s warm days and cool nights allows farmers to grow five of the six classes of wheat raised in the United States: soft white, hard red winter, hard red spring, hard white and durum. The only class not grown in the state is soft red, a type of wheat mainly found east of the Mississippi River. The predominant wheat class grown in Washington—about 81 percent of the state’s acreage—is soft white. A subclass of soft white is club wheat which is used in a blend with soft white to form the Western White blend sold primarily to those Pacific Rim customers interested in specialty products. Soft white is a low protein wheat used in cakes, cookies (biscuits) and crackers in the U.S. and in sponge cakes, steam breads, noodles, biscuits and crackers overseas.

Between 85 to 90 percent of Washington’s wheat is exported, owing to the state’s prime location on the West Coast within easy shipping distance to Pacific Rim customers. An increasing amount of the state’s production is going into Latin America. The state’s hard wheat production—both hard red winter and hard red spring—is among the best in the nation, grown both under dryland conditions and under irrigation in the fertile Columbia Basin. Hard white wheat is grown on limited acreage to serve ADMs flour milling operation in Spokane. A smattering of durum wheat is grown under contract.

Farmers in Washington also grow several types of barley: feed, malt, and food types. Barley for feed commands the largest acreage, but beer brewers, especially small craft brewers are discovering Washington’s unique production. The state is also on the leading edge of growing hull-less types of barley for use in various foods. Barley has been designated a heart healthy ingredient.