Growers, elevators urged to submit grain samples

The Canadian Grain Commission is encouraging farmers to submit grain samples from this year’s harvest to its Harvest Sample Program.

Producers can request a sample package by contacting the commission or visiting the CGC’s website at

Growers who submit samples before Nov. 1 receive a free unofficial grade as well as a free quality analysis that assesses:

  • protein content in cereals, pulse crops, canola, mustard, flax and soybeans
  • oil content in canola, flax, mustard and soybeans
  • iodine values in flax
  • chlorophyll content in canola

“Our harvest sample program is a voluntary program that gives producers important information about their grain,” said chief commissioner Elwin Hermanson.

“(Producers will) have a good idea of what they have in their bins before they go to deliver to a primary elevator,” added Twylla McKendry, the commission’s program manager of analytical services.

McKendry said the commission usually distributes 7,000 sample kits to grain, pulse and oilseed growers. Each kit contains sample envelopes that are filled with grain and returned to the CGC’s grain research lab for inspection.

Of those, 4,000 contain red spring wheat, 2,000 contain canola and 1,000 contain durum.

Returns from this year’s program are starting to trickle into the commission’s laboratory in Winnipeg , she said. As of last week, the commission had received 100 wheat samples from Western Canada.

McKendry said it is still too early to make any observations about the overall quality of this year’s prairie wheat crop.

The number of samples returned is expected to increase significantly between now and the middle of September, she added.

The grain is analyzed for quality and protein and aggregated into composite samples, which are ground and used in baking tests and other end-use quality assessments.

“We do a full quality analysis on composites and that (information) … is published on our website so that buyers of Canadian wheat can see (if) the quality of Canadian wheat is consistent from year to year.”

This year, the commission is expanding the program by requesting samples from primary elevators across the West.

“We’ve done that in the past,” Mc-Kendry said.

“With all the mergers and realignments, we thought it would be good to go back to the elevators, so we sent almost 3,500 envelopes to primary elevators and terminals as well.”

Commissioner Murdoch MacKay said involving major grain handlers in the sample collection process will result in a more thorough analysis of the western Canadian crop.

“We’ve met with the Western Grain Elevators Association, the Inland Terminals Association of Canada and the CWB … so we have all the major grain handling companies … assisting us in getting samples for the program,” MacKay said.

“Our program, we believe, will be a lot bigger than it has been in the past.”

A more complete picture of cereal crop quality is beginning to emerge as harvest progress continues.

In Saskatchewan, provincial crop management specialist Grant McLean said early-harvested cereal crops appear to be in good shape despite initial disease concerns.

Early reports suggest that the province’s winter wheat crops came off in good condition with average to above average yields.

More will be known about the quality of spring wheat spring and barley as harvest progresses.

“So far, the cereals look very good,” McLean said.

Producers across the province were wondering if fusarium, stripe rust and leaf disease would have a significant impact on 2012 cereal production but that doesn’t appear to be the case, McLean said.

In Manitoba, field crop pathologist Holly Derksen said cereal diseases do not appear to have significantly affected cereal crops.

It’s still early to make any definitive statements about overall cereal crop quality, but at this point, fusarium does not appear to be a major concern, she added.

“Overall, there haven’t been that many reports of fusarium in our cereal crops this year, so I would say we’re probably having a pretty low level year.”

Derksen said the weather was a bigger concern for many Manitoba growers.

Heat and lack of moisture affected cereal test weights and kernel sizes in many areas.

In some regions, a significant portion of the spring wheat crop could be downgraded to a No. 2.

Bruce Carriere, owner of Discovery Seed Labs in Saskatoon, said early test results on pedigreed seed samples from Saskatchewan suggest fusarium infection rates could be significant in some areas.

Early samples of winter wheat seed are showing variable infections rates with the highest disease pressure in the province’s northeast.

“If you go down along the U.S. border, the samples there look really nice,” Carriere said.

“The further north you go, the worse they get and the further northeast you go, the worse they get.”

Saskatchewan participates in an annual fusarium survey, but results from that program won’t likely be available for two or three months.

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