World markets growing for Western Canada’s CPS wheat class

Recent regulatory changes will make it easier for American wheats to be registered in the Canada Prairie Spring class

The only problem processors are having with Canada Prairie Spring red wheat these days is not being able to buy enough of it, industry officials told the recent Prairie Grain Development Committee’s annual meeting.

“I think if we can maintain our focus on quality, we have the potential to beat out pretty much every other wheat class out of any exporting nation,” Nancy Edwards, the Canadian Grain Commission program manager for bread wheat research said at the Prairie Grain Development Committee’s recent annual meeting.

“They would have a hard time touching us. And we have the advantage that we have a very strong brand for quality and I’d like to see us maintain that.”

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Edwards readily admits to being a big fan of the Canada Prairie Spring (Red) wheat class because of how it performs and its market potential. There’s a big world market for good-quality bread-making wheat with slightly lower protein than found in Canada’s Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) class, she said.

Dough made from CPS wheat has a faster mixing time, said Erik Ordonez, a marketer with Richardson International. It also yields more flour than competing wheats, he said. Its main shortcoming is an inconsistent supply, he added.

CPS can compete with American hard red winter wheat, offering similar protein content, equal water absorption, and good or better on dough strength with exceptional baking performance. And because of Western Canada’s registration system, the CPS class performs consistently.

“When you calculate the volume per unit protein those CPSs (such as 5700) are better than the CWRS,” Edwards said. “They are really excellent blending wheats and we have a really good-quality class here. And I think there is room to grow it.”

Western Canadian farmers are interested in CPS wheats because of potentially higher yields than CWRS wheats — although the yield gap as declined over the last 15 years, said Julian Thomas, a scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada based in Winnipeg. In Manitoba, it’s just six per cent more — not enough to offset the higher return earned from CRWS wheats, he said.

But the CPS class could soon get a yield boost. The quality evaluation team of the Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye and Triticale recently voted to broaden the quality parameters for the class, making it easier to register higher-yielding, Dark Northern Spring (DNS) milling wheats from the U.S., many of which are lower in protein than CWRS wheats.

DNS wheats tend to be harder so the CPS class will have to be adjusted to allow higher ash content and higher starch damage, Edwards said.

They also tend to produce stronger doughs, and the recommending committee will have to be careful when approving new American varieties because the milling and baking properties of the CPS class are a selling feature, Edwards said.

The idea for broadening the CPS class came out of an industry meeting held last April. The consensus was to maintain the integrity of Western Canada’s two premier classes, CWRS and Canada Western Amber durum.

“There is good potential for increased farmer uptake of such a widened class,” quality evaluation team chair, Graham Worden of Paterson GlobalFoods, wrote in an email. “This approach would also provide a homegrown solution against the pressure to allow seed developed elsewhere easy access to acres in Canada.”

Domestic millers have not typically purchased CPS wheat, said Sheilagh Arney, director of technology at ADM Milling and a member of the quality evaluation team. Making the class a little stronger by adding DNS varieties could result in more sales at home, she said.

Different millers are looking for different quality attributes, but common to all is flour extraction and consistency, Arney said.

“We want to make money,” she said, referring to the importance of how much flour can be produced from a tonne of wheat.

“Consistency is what we’re looking for. Customers will say it’s fine if the strength is high or low so long as it’s consistent because we can then manage because we know it’s always going to be the same. The issue is when those parameters jump around from variety to variety.”

Domestic millers seldom identity preserve wheat varieties “because of the expense,” Arney said.

About the author

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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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