Parrish & Heimbecker will contract around 10,000 acres of Faller, an unregistered American wheat, under an identity-preserved program with farmers in Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan this spring, says John Devos, the company’s manager of seed and chemical.
P & H is the second grain company to offer such a program and there could be more, John Smith, president and CEO of Seed Depot, said in an interview April 4. Seed Depot has the exclusive Canadian distribution rights for Faller, which was developed at North Dakota State University.
“Mills like it,” Devos said of Faller, a dark northern spring wheat. “It has good stability. We have a home for it in our mills.”
Parrish & Heimbecker will pay farmers the going hard red wheat price for Faller delivered under the contract, he said. Normally unregistered wheats sell at a discount.
Faller, which yields about 20 per cent more than Glenn, will be grown in co-op tests this spring providing the data required to assess whether it should be recommended for registration in the Canada Prairie Spring (red) class. Smith said it’s unlikely the variety would be recommended for registration in Canada’s premier milling wheat class, Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS), because its protein content is too low.
Canadian seed regulations allow Faller to be contracted under IP contracts for test marketing.
Farmers must deliver all their Faller production to the contractor and not keep any seed for future propagation. They must also purchase the seed through the contractor.
It’s illegal to import an unregistered wheat for the purposes of growing it in Western Canada. It’s also illegal for American farmers to sell Faller, for seed, for export to Canada because Seed Depot holds the rights to the variety.
Richardson Pioneer confirmed its Faller IP program in February. Its Faller wheat will go to British baker Warburtons.
Parrish & Heimbecker, in addition to being an elevator company, operates seven flour mills across the country, making it Canada’s largest Canadian-owned flour miller.
Devos said growing Faller, as well as a more traditional CWRS variety, is good hedge against price volatility related to protein content. Some years, such as this one, buyers aren’t paying protein premiums so a higher-yielding variety, with a little less protein, can return farmers more money.
“It’s a phenomenal yielder. It has a good disease package. R (rating) for leaf rust, R-MR to stem rust. Mid-range for fusarium,” he said.
But when high-protein wheat supplies are tight, higher-protein wheat can earn farmers more, Smith said.
“As one farmer to another farmer I want producers to realize Faller has lower protein,” Smith said. “It’s also a couple of days later maturing than some of our CWRS wheats so you better get it in early.”
Smith said he’s gratified his efforts to get Faller into the registration trials and get grain buyers on board with test marketing are paying off.
The Faller programs demonstrate the current wheat registration system is more flexible than some of its critics claim, he added.