Plantings tripled this spring and with those big yields farmers will be more interested in growing them than ever
Manitoba farmers are poised to push feedwheat acres to new highs for 2014 after this year’s harvest brought in yields as high as 100 bushels per acre.
But industry officials are warning farmers to keep an eye on protein as they consider their cereal planting options. While the higher-yielding but lower protein winter wheats can sometimes earn farmers as much as CWRS varieties, it depends on relative supplies and demand.
“If I was to make a recommendation it would be not to put all your eggs in one basket,” said John Smith, president and CEO of pedigreed seed supplier Seed Depot.
Last year there was lots of high protein wheat, while there was strong demand in the United States for feed wheat following a major drought. As a result there were no protein premiums and the spread between feed and milling wheat prices narrowed.
This year western Canadian farmers are harvesting a bumper wheat crop but protein levels are down and there’s less demand for feed wheat. Protein premiums are expected to return and the gap between milling and feed prices could widen, Smith said.
Smith, who has the Canadian distribution rights to Faller, a Dark Northern Spring developed at North Dakota State University, said it yielded up to 114 bushels an acre this fall.
Those yields give farmers bragging rights in the local coffee shop. But Smith has a warning: “In North Dakota they can grow all the Faller they want and what’s the No. 1 variety in North Dakota? It’s not Faller. Barlow is and it has higher protein.
“Our Cardale (a new CWRS wheat) isn’t all that much lower yielding than Faller and it’s got the protein. The mix of the two would give you the best of both worlds.”
Faller isn’t registered in Canada and therefore receives the lowest grade, Feed, when sold to an elevator. However, two grain companies offered farmers identity-preserved Faller contracts this year with prices close to milling grade.
Faller is also being tested in Canada and depending on the results might get recommended for registration.
Pasteur is a high yielding wheat from SeCan, registered in the Canada Western General Purpose class. One farmer reported a yield of 127 bushels an acre, said Todd Hyra, SeCan’s western business manager.
But this year CWRS wheats have been yielding well too, he said.
“Carberry (SeCan’s new CWRS wheat) is having a great year with lots of 70s and 80s (bushels an acre) reported,” Hyra said.
Some industry observers predicted ending the Canadian Wheat Board’s sales monopoly would see Western farmers shift to lower protein, higher yielding wheats. There will be some shift, but Smith expects continued demand for high quality milling wheat and hopes the change occurs gradually so grain handlers and end-users are prepared.
“Even if 25 or 30 per cent of the acres went into a wheat into the CPS (Canada Prairie Spring) class or DNS like Faller I’d be scared they’d face huge discounts in the markets because the markets really wouldn’t be adjusted and ready for it yet,” he said.
There’s a place for higher yielding wheat but Western Canada should not give up its CWRS quality-brand, said one grain company official who asked not to be named.
Delivering a consistent product one year to the next also enhances quality, he said. Western Canada’s wheat classification system assists in that, he added.
Even though feed wheat (CWGP and unregistered wheat) plantings hit 137,838 acres, up from 48,920 last year they represented just four per cent of the 3.38 million acres of wheat grown in Manitoba, MASC statistics show.
Pasteur and Faller made up almost 80 per cent of the feed wheat acres with 65,167 and 42,178 acres, respectively.
Pasteur plantings jumped five-fold form 2012, while Faller’s tripled.
There were 7,305 acres of Jenna, an unregistered American wheat, seeded in Manitoba this spring, MASC says.
Farmers seeded 2.6 million acres of CWRS wheat, accounting for almost 77 per cent of the province’s wheat plantings.
With 614,654 acres, winter wheat still covers more area than feed wheat.
Carberry was the most popular CWRS wheat this year with 832,000 acres or almost 32 per cent of the market — double the No. 2 variety, Glenn, at 438,000 acres.
Last year Carberry had 12 per cent of the CWRS acres.
In 2012 Harvest was No. 1 with 18 per cent of the market. This year it dropped to third spot with almost 360,000 acres.