Big changes to Western Canada’s wheat class system took effect Aug. 1, the start of the 2016-17 crop year, and more are coming over the next three years.
They’re designed to enhance Canada’s reputation for high-quality, high-gluten-strength milling wheat, while giving farmers the opportunity to grow higher-yielding wheats that have slightly lower strength, Daryl Beswitherick, the Canadian Grain Commission’s (CGC) program manager for quality assurance standards, said in an interview July 29.
For starters, the CGC has added a new wheat class — Canada Northern Hard Red (CNHR). American Dark Northern Spring varieties Faller, Prosper and Elgin ND, currently in the Canada Western Interim Wheat class, will move to the new CNHR class and the interim class will end. These three varieties have slightly lower protein than wheats in Canada’s premiere, Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) class, but are higher yielding.
Changes are coming to the CWRS and Canada Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) class but not until Aug. 1, 2018 when 25 CWRS and four CPSR wheats will move to the CNHR class. Among the CWRS wheats there are some popular varieties including Harvest and Kane. (See the list below.) The CGC had initially planned to move them in 2017, but delayed it a year to give the industry more time to adjust.
Aug. 1 the Canada Western General Purpose (CWGP) and Canada Feed Wheat classes were eliminated and the varieties in them transferred to the new Canada Western Special Purpose class. Like the CWGP class, the special purpose class does not require end-use quality assessment as a prerequisite to registration.
The CWGP class was created in 2008 for wheats suited for ethanol production and livestock feed. But it’s also become home for some higher-yielding varieties that don’t meet the milling and end-use requirements of other wheat classes.
Marketability also played a role in the switch, Beswitherick said in an earlier interview. “General purpose” doesn’t sound as appealing as “special purpose.”
Elwin Hermanson, the CGC’s former chief commissioner, announced the wheat class review at the Manitoba Seed Growers’ Association’s annual meeting in December 2014. He explained the goal was to protect and enhance the CWRS and CPSR classes following several years of complaints from some customers about weaker-than-normal wheat gluten strength.
An investigation concluded that some new CWRS wheats with gluten strength close to the minimum allowed were among the most popular with farmers. In addition poor weather had resulted in even lower gluten strength.
Industry consultations last year resulted in support for the class changes, aimed at providing farmers with more flexibility in the wheats they grow without compromising Canada’s wheat quality, Beswitherick said. The industry also agreed to tighter standards for CWRS wheat.
“If you travel around the world and mention CWRS, people in the wheat industry they know exactly what it is,” he said. “That brand is so strong we didn’t want to impact that. We wanted to enhance it by getting more consistent. But we also want to allow the producers the flexibility to grow different types of wheat for different markets. Different opportunities could come forward. That is the idea behind the Canada Northern Hard Red.”
While wheats identified as not meeting CWRS and CPS quality don’t start moving to the CNHR for another year, Beswitherick stressed it’s important for farmers to know what varieties they are growing and what class they belong to so they properly declare when delivering to the elevator. Canada’s wheat quality control system depends on it because in 2008, kernel visual distinguishability ended. It required new wheats to visually match the kernel type of others in the same class allowing for visual class segregation.
As of Aug. 1, 2016 the following CWGP varieties move to CWSP class: AAC Proclaim, AAC Innova, AAC NRG097, Accipiter, Broadview, CDC Clair, CDC Falcon, CDC Harrier, CDC Kestrel, CDC NRG003, CDC Primepurple, CDC Ptarmigan, CDC Raptor, Minnedosa, NRG010, Pasteur, Peregrine, Pintail, SY087, Sunrise, Swainson and WFT 603.
As of Aug. 1, 2018 the following CWRS varieties move to the CNHR class: AC Abbey, AC Cora, AC Eatonia, AC Majestic, AC Michael, AC Minto, Alvena, Alikat, CDC Makwa, CDC Osler, Columbus, Conway, Harvest, Kane, Katepwa, Leader, Lillian, McKenzie, Neepawa, Park, Pasqua, Pembina, Thatcher, Unity and 5603HR.
As of Aug. 1, 2018 the following CPSR varieties move to the CNHR class: AC Foremost, AC Taber, Conquer and Oslo.
As of Aug. 1, 2019 the following CPSR variety moves to the CNHR class: AC Crystal.