Winter Cereals Manitoba Seeks Members’ Input On Research

“Winter wheat producers realize they’ve got to move ahead and that varieties are few and far between.”

– JAKE DAVIDSON

Winter Cereals Manitoba (WCM) has $180,000 in the bank and wants its members’ advice on how best to spend it.

WCM president and Birtle-area farmer Garth Butcher got some feedback during the association’s second annual meeting here April 15.

Holland-area farmer Reg Marginet said Manitoba farmers need new select winter wheat varieties.

“I think Falcon will fall by the wayside with the (introduction of the) general-purpose wheats,” he said. “To replace McClintock (a select winter wheat) we need a shorterstrawed, select variety.”

Although CDC Falcon accounts for almost 80 per cent of the winter wheat planted in Manitoba last fall, Marginet said he doesn’t see a long future for it because it doesn’t qualify for the Canadian Wheat Board’s (CWB) higher-priced “select” class of winter wheat.

Falcon has been popular, especially in eastern Manitoba, because of its short straw and high yield potential. But it falls short as a milling wheat.

Marginet also suggested WCM consider working with private seed companies on developing winter barley and oats.

There was discussion about the possibility of WCM funding to keep some of the existing select winter wheat varieties in the Manitoba Crop Variety Evaluation Trials (MCVET). That way there will be data to compare when a new select winter wheat gets registered.

WCM’s board of directors has agreed the association needs to build a reserve so it has funds to operate and fulfil research commitments when winter wheat acreage or production declines, resulting in less checkoff revenue, said WCM’s executive manager Jake Davidson.

To get the most out of farmers’ checkoff money, WCM will work with Winter Cereals Canada and the Saskatchewan Winter Cereals Development Commission.

“We want to avoid duplication,” Davidson said.

In fact, the goal was to have a single Prairiewide winter cereals association and checkoff for research, but provincial government rules don’t allow it.

“Winter wheat producers realize they’ve got to move ahead and that varieties are few and far between,” Davidson said. “Winter wheat people are very much in support of funding research and having a say.”

Of the more than 1,600 Manitoba farmers who paid the checkoff between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, 2008, only a dozen or so requested a refund totalling $2,400, Davidson said. The farmers who asked for their money back had paid levies of between $10 and $300 each.

Davidson, who is based in Minnedosa, is also executive manager of Winter Cereals Canada and executive director of the Saskatchewan Winter Cereals Development Commission.

A 50-cent-a-tonne levy on the first sale of winter wheat sold in Manitoba took effect last Aug. 1. In February 2008, 60.6 per cent of affected farmers who returned their ballots voted in favour of the refundable checkoff. (In a 2006 vote only 47.6 per cent of the farmers voted for the checkoff.)

“Nothing happens anymore unless producers put their money where their mouth is and put up the seed money,” Davidson said.

And now that the association has some funds, albeit limited, it is getting research proposals, he said.

Select winter wheat growers are accustomed to moving much of their crop early in the year, but that’s changing as customers demand supplies throughout the year, Bruce Burnett, the CWB’s director of weather and crop surveillance and market analysis told the meeting.

Increased competition from Russia and India also some of the non-select winter wheat marketed through the CWB won’t move as quickly as in past years, he said. [email protected]

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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