FP Genetics is so confident one of its new Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheats is more profitable than older varieties grown from bin-run seed, it’s guaranteeing it.
“We’ve developed a program that allows a grower to upgrade their wheat genetics at no risk to them,” FP Genetics CEO Rod Merryweather said in a news release Oct. 22. “The grower simply has to register with one of our shareholder seedsmen, seed any number of acres of our variety side by side with their current variety and use the same agronomic package. If our variety doesn’t net out more on the bottom line, we’ll pay the grower the difference.”
Harvest, one of FP Genetics’ older CWRS varieties, is the most popular milling wheat seeded in Western Canada, making up 12 per cent of the area covered by crop insurance, or 1.5 million acres, according to data collected by the Canadian Grain Commission.
But Harvest is 10 years old and higher-yielding varieties are available, Merryweather told reporters with Farm Business Communications Oct. 15.
As part of its Certified Seed Profit Guarantee, FP Genetics has set up a calculator to compare certified and farm-saved seed costs.
Bin-run seed is not free, Merryweather said, noting that it has a market value as grain, plus there are costs to transport it to be cleaned and treated. Meanwhile, new varieties have potentially higher yields, he said. For example, CDC Plentiful, one of FP Genetics’ new CWRS wheats, yields 10 per cent more than Harvest, is four to five days earlier maturing and is more disease resistant, Merryweather said. It’s also rated modestly resistant (MR) to fusarium head blight.
Merryweather estimates some of FP Genetics’ new wheats will net farmers around $20 an acre more than an old variety. “At $20 an acre, if we could do this on every acre that’s another $500 million of profit in farmers’ hands,” he said, noting that is based on about 25 million acres of wheat grown annually.
Given that, on average, wheat yields increase by 1.6 per cent a year, farmers should be buying new varieties at least every four years, he said.
Here are the rules:
1. FP Genetics and the farmer agree on a field, which can be up to 640 acres and must be reasonably uniform. FP Genetics and the farmer then decide if the results will be tabulated by actual weight or the farmer’s combine grain yield monitor. Then the farmer and an FP Genetics territory manager sign an official guarantee document.
2. The farmer buys and seeds half the field with FP Genetics’ recommended variety (CDC Utmost, AC Muchmore or CDC Plentiful) and the other half with the farmer’s bin-run seed. Seeding on both sides must be done within 24 hours by the same equipment and at the same seeding rate of approximately 35 plants per square foot (usually about two bushels per acre).
3. Fertility and pest management must be the same on both sides of the field.
4. The harvested crop will be measured with an FP Genetics territory manager in attendance. If the recommendation of the FP Genetics retailer does not deliver higher yield and more profit, FP Genetics will pay the difference in profit realized.
FP Genetics is also excited about some of its other new varieties of fall rye and flax.
A limited supply of Brasetto, a new hybrid fall rye developed by German seed company KWS, “sold out in a matter of minutes,” this fall, Merryweather said. It yields 20 to 25 per cent more than conventional rye and has higher falling numbers, translating into better milling quality, he said.
The higher seed price is more than offset by higher yield and quality, Merryweather said.
“It passes that three- or four-to-one return on investment,” he said. “And that’s really what you need to have farmers really interested in it. I believe that’s why we’re getting so much interest in the product.”
Brasetto is standing up well to fusarium, he added, probably because as a hybrid, maturity is more even.
AAC Bravo is a new flax developed at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Morden Research Station.
“The best thing about it is it has good maturity and it also has a large seed size, which is attractive for the specialty markets for toppings on bread and for the food markets,” Merryweather said.
“It’s also attractive because a bigger kernel means higher oil content and that makes it attractive for the industrial market — the traditional markets in Europe.”