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Wheat Classes (U.S. Wheat, French Wheat, German Wheat and Canadian Wheat)

By Novozymes

There are thousands of wheat varieties around the world. Of commercial significance are two species : soft or common (Triticum aestivum), and durum (Triticum durum). The major exporting countries have developed various classification systems to ensure uniformity in milling, processing and baking properties. According USDA the overall wheat production is estimated at 655 million tons for the 2012-2013 crop. Out of that 138 million tons are traded. The picture below demonstrates the share of each major exporting country.

Share of annual wheat export for 2012-2013

Population growth in various parts of the developing world combined with strong economic growth have increased demand for food and feed wheat. This demand is driven mainly by countries with low incomes and expanding populations in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Yemen, and Oman) and North Africa (Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco), Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam) and Latin America (Brazil and Mexico).

U.S. Wheat Classes

U.S. has six wheat classes, each determined by the hardness of the kernel, color and planting time. Each class is also divided into grades based on the test weight per bushel and the percent of defects and count of other material.

The six classes of U.S. wheat as well as their main characteristics are listed below :

  • Hard Red Winter (HRW) is an important, versatile bread wheat with excellent milling and baking characterictics. It has medium to high protein (10-13%), medium to hard endosperm, red bran, medium gluten content, and mellow gluten. It is used in pan breads, Asian noodles, hard rolls, flat breads, and general purpose flour
  • Hard Red Spring (HRS) has high protein (12-15%), hard endosperm, red bran, strong gluten, and high water absorption. It is used in pan breads, hearth breads, rolls, croissants, bagels, hamburger buns, pizza crust, and flour blending
  • Hard White (HW) is the newest class of U.S. wheat ideal for Asian noodles, whole wheat bread and high extraction flour applications, pan bread and flat bread.
  • Soft Red Winter (SRW) is a high-yielding wheat with low protein (8.5-10.5%), soft endosperm, red bran, and weak gluten. It is used in pastries, cakes, cookies, crackers, pretzels, flat breads, and for blending flours
  • Soft White (SW) has low protein (8.5-10.5%) and low moisture, and provides very good milling results. It is used in biscuits, cakes, pastries, flat breads, noodles, and snack foods
  • Durum (DU) wheat is the hardest of the wheat classes with a high protein content (12-15%), yellow endosperm, and white bran. It is used in pasta, couscous, and some bread.

French Wheat Classes

In 2012, wheat production in France was 36 million metric tons (Harvest 2012, France Agrimer p.2) There are a large number of wheat varieties grown in France, the main ones being Apache, Altigo, Arezzo, Bermude and Expert. All these varieties are organized in flour classes whose characteristic are shown in table.
Protein %(db)
         Alveograph         W (10-4 J)
       Harberg         Falling Number
≥ 250
≥ 220
≥ 220
As specified in contract
≥ 180
Not Specified
Not Specified

German Wheat Classes

Table shows the characteristic of the various German classes as well as the relative proportion of each class for the 2012 – 2013 crop.
Quality Group
Relative Proportion    (%)
Protein Content                % (db)
Sedimentation Value  mL
Elite ( E )
Blending Wheat ( A )
Bread Wheat (B)
Other Wheat ( C )

Canadian Wheat Classes

The major part of wheat grown and exported in Canada comes from the western part of the country. Following are the Western Canada classes (Picture)

Sample kernels from each of the 8 milling classes of western Canadian Wheat :

Sample kernels from each of the 8 milling classes of western Canadian Wheat 
(Picture is courtesy of Canadian Grain Commission, Government of Canada)

Each class might be further divided into grades based on test weight, the percent of defects and count of other material. The main exporting classes are the Canadian Western Red Spring and the Canadian Amber Durum. According to the Canadian Grain Commission, the characteristics of each class are :
  • Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat is hard wheat with superior milling and baking quality. It is offered at various guaranteed protein levels (13%, 13.5% and 14%)
  • Canada western Hard White Spring (CWHWS) wheat is hard white spring wheat consisting of superior milling quality producing flour with excellent color. It is suitable for bread and noodle production
  • Canada Western Amber Durum (CWAD) is a durum wheat producing a high yield of semolina with excellent pasta-making quality
  • Canada Western Extra Strong (CWES) is a hard red spring wheat with extra-strong gluten suitable for blending purposes and for special breads. There are two milling grades in the CWES class
  • Canada Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) is a medium-strength wheat suitable for the production of certain types of heart breads, flat breads, steamed breads, noodles and related products. There are two milling grades in the CPSR class
  • Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) is a hard wheat with very good milling quality suitable for the production of a wide variety of products including French breads, flat breads, steamed breads, noodles and related products. There are two milling grades in the CWRW class
  • Canada Prairie Spring White (CPSW) is a medium-strength wheat suitable for the production of various types of flat breads, noodles, chapattis and related products. There are two milling grades in the CPSW class
  • Canada Western Soft White Spring (CWSWS) is a soft wheat of low protein content suitable for the production of cookies, cakes and pastry as well as various types of flat breads, noodles, steamed breads and chapattis. There are three milling grades in the CWSWS class
  • Canada Western General Purpose (CWGP) is a lower protein wheat suitable for animal feed and industrial processing; it is not intended for milling

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