Farmers wanting to feed Roquette’s soon-to-be- commissioned pea protein plant in Portage la Prairie will face a few stiff quality stipulations.
John Buch, risk and grain department manager with Roquette, gave an overview of the company’s requirements during Ag Days 2019, including grade, traceability and MRL conflicts that will preclude growers from using certain chemistries in the field.
Why it matters: Roquette sparked excitement for pea growers in 2017 when it announced its plant in Portage la Prairie, a facility currently under construction and that will one day process up to 125,000 tonnes of peas a year. Now, producers are getting a better look at the company’s quality requirements.
The company is only interested in yellow peas that rate at least No. 2 Canada, Buch said. On top of that, producers may want to watch their crop rotations or intercrop mixes if they hope to sell peas to Roquette. The company has laid strict rules around contamination, and peas in close contact with allergens like wheat or soybean or genetically modified crops may find their peas ineligible for the new buyer.
Producers using a desiccant will also have to keep a close watch on their chemistries. In particular, producers will have to pass on Reglone, Buch said, since the U.S. has not established a maximum residue limit for diquat, closing the U.S. market for Reglone-treated peas.
Provincial pulse specialist Dennis Lange says farmers may be able to work around that limitation with mixed-glyphosate chemistries and glyphosate itself.
“I’ve been touring around, talking to different growers,” he said. “Not all growers use Reglone. The ones who tend to use Reglone are the growers who are producing seed because they can’t use glyphosate.”
Growers may skirt the issue entirely during a year like last summer’s hot, dry season, he added, since crops needed little extra dry-down.
The new buyer will also come with new paperwork, Buch said. The company has integrated traceability and social responsibility into their marketing, and producers selling peas to Roquette will have to abide by any traceability measures that company insists on, as well as have a completed environmental farm plan.
The province has added a yellow pea chapter to its environmental farm plan.
“Doing the environmental farm plan, I think it’s good for the province in general, good for growers in general,” Lange said. “The pea chapter that’s been included in the environmental farm plan is a very straightforward document that growers can do in a short period of time.”
The province will have to build its pea acres from its 80,000 acres last season to meet the plant’s needs, he added.
Buch says the company will be buying directly from farmers, and that the company would “likely” be looking at production contracts, as well as other methods to source material.
“Really, what we’re after is a sustainable approach to the pea procurement, and that’s just because of the growing consumer demand and the growing consumer concerns for sustainability, and then also to meet the needs of the environment and the ongoing need for food for the world and the growing population,” he said.
“Primarily, we want to meet the customer demand and what they’re after and do this responsibly and sustainably,” he added. “In order to do that, you’ve got to have the traceability to show that we are doing what we say we’re doing.”
Buch believes there will be enough eligible deals when the plant opens in fall of 2020. The company expects to start major contracting in fall 2019 for the 2020 crop.
Some producers, however, have worried that Roquette’s requirements are too high. Taking to Twitter, producers worried that contamination with the previous crop in a rotation might become a significant hurdle.
“I’m thinking a healthy premium will need to be involved to source enough peas,” Ron Krahn of Rivers, Man., tweeted, while another producer from Esterhazy, Sask., suggested that the company would have to offer a 20 per cent premium to attract his interest. Others expressed concern over the lack of Reglone allowance.
Lange says he is fielding more questions from producers interested in growing peas. New markets such as Roquette have bolstered that interest, he said, although dry weather and high yields in the last two years may have also added to the crop’s fortunes. The crop adds an early-planted, early-harvested option that some farmers may find attractive, he added, while others may be looking for a pulse substitute for soybeans in their rotation.