Managers of Panama flour mills are meeting at Northern Crops Institute (NCI) to learn more about this year's spring wheat and durum crops and to become more familiar with the U.S. wheat system from farm to mill. While at NCI, the team will get an update on the 2014 crop situation, prices and logistics and will meet with researchers at North Dakota State University (NDSU) to gain a better understanding of the spring wheat and durum quality and breeding programs. The group will also tour NCI and a local elevator facility. These activities will help the mill managers better understand the U.S. wheat system and strengthen their confidence in U.S. wheat. The team is escorted by Chad Weigand, assistant regional director for the U.S. Wheat Associates Mexican, Central American, and Caribbean Region, and hosted by Erica Olson, N.D. Wheat Commission. Panama has only four milling companies, all of which purchase wheat and arrange freight together in an effort to reduce costs and improve coordination of deliveries. Panama imports the vast majority, almost 90 percent, of its wheat needs from the U.S. with total annual purchases reaching 4.5 million bushels. Panama imports hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter and durum.