Saskatchewan durum growers may have an unexpected visitor this summer.
Since early May, Quentin Renault has been visiting farmers in Saskatchewan’s durum basket as part of a two-year study into Canadian durum. Renault is a development officer with Durum SAS, a French company that markets French durum.
Durum SAS also buys Canadian durum as needed to fill contracts in countries including Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
“My boss said to me: ‘You have to go to Canada because we know Canada is the main producer of durum in the world,'” Renault said.
The two-year study is expected to help Durum SAS understand Canadian agriculture and build relationships with different actors in the durum supply chain, Renault said.
Renault wants to learn everything there is to know about Canadian durum, from field to port. Right now he’s focusing on production. So far he’s found around 70 durum growers willing to help, but hopes to recruit about 200.
Renault said he hopes farmers will share their knowledge about durum production, from seeding to harvesting. He also wants to know why Canadian farmers favour certain farming practices over others.
Renault, who has an ag engineering degree from LaSalle Beauvais, a polytechnic institute north of Paris, said he always wanted to work in agriculture — a passion he said he inherited from his father, who still farms.
“When I was a child, I worked with my parents every holiday. Planting, harvesting, stuff like that,” he said.
That farm background leaves Renault keenly aware of weather. Like their Saskatchewan counterparts, France’s farmers are suffering through a dry spell. Some areas in France haven’t seen rain in two months, he said.
Recently, temperatures have hit 35 C to 40 C throughout the country, he added.
France’s farmers started harvesting barley two weeks ago, and generally both yield and quality are looking good, Renault said.
Other crops haven’t fared as well. “Right now they are beginning the canola, and yield (doesn’t) look so good.”
Fires sparked by combines have been burning crops in parts of France, Reuters recently reported. Local authorities ordered farmers to plough 10-metre wide borders around fields to contain fires in the Beauce plain, one of France’s grain belts.
Durum growers interested in talking to Quentin Renault can contact him at 438-820-1535 or by email.
— Lisa Guenther is a field editor for Grainews and Country Guide at Livelong, Sask. Follow her at @LtoG on Twitter.