Sampling finds high quality crop

Only 38.9 percent of Canada Western Red Spring wheat has graded No. 1, but 77 percent is either No. 1 or No. 2, which is considered adequate

Considering all the problems, challenges and management issues that bedevilled farmers from the beginning to the end of the 2019-20 growing season, Canadian salespeople will be marketing an OK crop to the world this winter.

There will be enough No. 1 and No. 2 spring wheat as well as good durum for buyers of high quality grain.

As well, the rest of the prairie production that was presented in samples to the Canadian Grain Commission reveal a crop portfolio for which there should be buyers.

“They looked OK,” said Ashok Sarkar of the Canadian International Grains Institute, talking about the milling characteristics of the thousands of samples of crop farmers mailed in up until mid-October.

It’s not a great prairie crop, with only 38.9 percent of Canada Western Red Spring wheat being graded No. 1, but No. 1 and No. 2 make up 77 percent of the crop, which should be sufficient for high-end buyers.

“Quality is going to be available,” Cereals Canada president Cam Dahl said Nov. 8 while introducing the type of Canadian crop that members of the 2019 New Crop Missions will present to buyers around the world.

“It might not be as easy to get at as it has been in past years … but for countries that are looking for that high quality, it is going to be there.”

More than 50 percent of Canada Western Amber Durum was grading No. 1 and No. 2 with a further 28.4 percent grading No. 3 CWAD.

A lot of crop was still in the field in mid-October, when the analysis began, so a firm estimate of the amount of each crop and grade will be a little loose until the later samples are received and included in the composite view, Dahl said. That should be possible in January.

Farmers faced a plethora of quality-damaging challenges throughout the season, from drought on the western Plains during the spring to scattered saturating rains during the summer to a harvest season dominated by rain, cold and snow.

For example, more than 20 percent of durum samples showed evidence of mildew and 20 percent saw sub-optimal test weights. Almost 25 percent of CWRS showed mildew and more than 10 percent showed the impact of fusarium and severe sprouting.

However, No. 1 CWRS protein levels were good, with western prairie samples matching last year’s 14.2 percent and eastern samples jumping from last year’s 13.7 to 14.4 this year.

Among lower grades of crop, CIGI analysis shows many milling, baking and noodle-making attributes are actually better than the grade would suggest, and overall processing characteristics of the entire crop show that there are lots of good supplies for many uses.

With much of the Canadian crop sitting in farmers’ bins after going in wet, farmers and the grain industry could be dealing with a winter of challenging stored grain management and unpredictable surprises.

But Dahl said he thought farmers’ heavy investment in recent years in aerated bins, bin monitoring and grain drying equipment should be able to save the value of most of the crops in the bin today.

Soon delegations of industry and farmer members from Canada will fan out across the world to talk to customers about the 2019-20 crop as a key part of Canada’s grain marketing efforts.

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