An unprecedented heat wave and ongoing drought in the U.S. Pacific Northwest is damaging white wheat coveted by Asian buyers and forcing fruit farm workers to harvest in the middle of the night to salvage crops and avoid deadly heat. From a report: The extreme weather is another blow to farmers who have struggled with labor shortages and higher transportation costs during the pandemic and may further fuel global food inflation. Cordell Kress, who farms in southeastern Idaho, expects his winter white wheat to produce about half as many bushels per acre as it does in a normal year when he begins to harvest next week, and he has already destroyed some of his withered canola and safflower oilseed crops.
The Pacific Northwest is the only part of the United States that grows soft white wheat used to make sponge cakes and noodles, and farmers were hoping to capitalize on high grain prices. Other countries including Australia and Canada grow white wheat, but the U.S. variety is especially prized by Asian buyers. “The general mood among farmers in my area is as dire as I’ve ever seen it,” Kress said. “Something about a drought like this just wears on you. You see your blood, sweat and tears just slowly wither away and die.”
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