Marketers forced to sell two crops this year

Crops that were harvested early are grading No. 1 and 2, but what comes after that could be a different story

It’s the best of crops.

It might be the worst of crops.

It’s a tale of two harvests, and Canada’s crop marketers are getting their heads around what farmers have produced this year.

“What came off first is very, very good,” said Cam Dahl, president of Cereals Canada, which oversees the New Crop Missions that will soon fan out across the globe to talk to customers about the 2018-19 crop.

“What comes off next, I don’t know.”

As of Oct. 4, about 97 percent of red spring wheat samples received by the Canadian Grain Commission were grading No. 1 and No. 2, with 90 percent No.1, while durum was 74 percent No. 1 and 18 percent No. 2.

Protein levels were high, with red spring wheat at 13.8 percent and durum at 14.3 percent.

“Absolutely a fantastic crop,” Daryl Beswitherick, manager of quality assessment at the CGC, said about the samples that were sent before recent bad weather hit the Prairies.

“There’s just so much wheat that is absolutely perfect.”

However, the spring wheat that was combined after being hit by the bad weather looks much worse. Frosted and mildewed seeds have appeared, and perhaps half the western Canadian crop is still in the field. Most of the Peace River country crop is still unharvested.

“We haven’t seen any severe sprouting problem yet, but we haven’t seen much.”

Canola harvested before the bad weather is also looking excellent, with 99 percent No. 1. That might be a surprise to some because the summer’s high heat could have caused plants to have trouble flushing chlorophyll out of the seeds, but that does not appear to have occurred.

Peas and lentils that have been seen so far are “really average,” but soybeans have suffered.

“The soybeans just dried up,” said Beswitherick.

“The plants shut down really early.”

Dahl’s challenge now will be to collate the early-harvested crop with the late harvest as it crawls in before the missions fan out.

“I think we have enough,” Dahl said about high quality red spring wheat.

“There’s definitely going to be a market for the high-quality this year.”

Countries such as Japan demand and pay well for high quality wheat and rely on countries like Canada to supply it. With a short crop being produced in Australia and problems in Europe, “there’s definitely going to be a market for the high quality this year.”

Some other markets are less fussy and pay less well. Reasonable crops could find homes there.

How much of the crop gets knocked down can’t be estimated right now. That might take a considerable amount of time because much of the prairie harvest is still stalled by snow and rain.

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