Winter wheat considerations this fall

winter wheat 2-LR_opt.jpegIt’s winter wheat-seeding time and there’s lots to consider, including the shift next Aug. 1 of Manitoba’s most popular variety, CDC Falcon, to a different class and changes in crop insurance coverage for all winter wheats.

Above-average winter wheat yields this year, along with good protein levels and low fusarium damage, should encourage plantings. But an estimated one-third of the 615,000 acres seeded last fall was ripped up this spring. Dry, hot weather last fall hurt germination. A cold, wet, delayed spring didn’t help the winter wheat that survived, said Pam de Rocquigny, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiative’s provincial cereal specialist.

Dry and hot weather in many parts of Manitoba again this year makes for good harvesting conditions, but is poor for seeding. This year many crops are late, including canola, the preferred stubble for winter wheat planting.

To be eligible for full crop insurance coverage winter wheat must be seeded between Aug. 20 and Sept. 15. Insurance coverage is cut 20 per cent when seeding occurs between Sept. 16 and 20, said David Van Deynze, Manitoba Agricultural Services’ manager of claim services.

There’s also a major change in winter wheat insurance coverage starting. The Stage 1 indemnity (from the time of fall seeding until June 20 the following year) based on 50 per cent of a farmer’s coverage is gone.

Farmers will still be eligible for a reseeding benefit of 25 per cent if their winter wheat fails before June 20. But until now farmers could get 75 per cent of their coverage.

In the past a farmer with $200-an-acre coverage on winter wheat could get $150 an acre if it failed before June 20; now that farmer will get just $50 an acre.

“In our minds the difference between spring wheat and winter wheat is you usually lose your winter wheat crop by May 1 so you could replant canola on May 10 and have a wonderful crop of canola,” Van Deynze said. That’s not the case when reseeding a spring crop.

Earlier this year Doug Wilcox, MASC’s manager of agronomy and program development said the old coverage created a “moral hazard.”

“Winter wheat has received a disproportionate amount of payouts over the years,” he said.

The upside is the winter wheat premiums farmers pay will be cut up to 40 per cent.

The change shouldn’t discourage winter wheat plantings, Van Deynze said.

“We believe the 25 per cent will cover costs like seed.”

Falcon class change

Starting Aug. 1, 2014, CDC Falcon will move to the Canada Western General Purpose (CWGP) class from the Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) wheat class.

The change is being made because often Falcon falls short of CWRW quality standards and there are adequate supplies of a new CWRW winter wheat, AC Flourish, to replace CDC Falcon.

AC Flourish, developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), will be distributed by SeCan.

“It has been moving really well, but the yields have been really great so we have a good supply,” said Todd Hyra, SeCan’s business manager for Western Canada.

Falcon is popular with farmers because of its high yield and short straw. AC Flourish yields even better, has shorter straw and higher protein, Hyra said.

There are at least two other Falcon replacements in the pipeline. AC Emerson, also from AAFC, will be commercially launched next fall through Canterra Seeds. It’s the first wheat of any type in Western Canada rated as resistant to fusarium head blight. Although AC Emerson has an “R” rating, it isn’t immune to fusarium. Farmers should still take steps to mitigate the impact of the fungal disease.

Limited supplies of AAC Gateway, another AAFC variety, will be available from Seed Depot under an identity-preserved program next fall. Full commercial release is expected in 2015.

Pricing

Under the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly, shifting Falcon to the general purpose class would’ve almost certainly meant lower prices. But the impact is less clear in an open market.

“The market will determine its value relative to its replacement,” said Keith Bruch, vice-president of operations for PatersonGlobalFoods.

“Flourish is really the up-and-coming red winter. Functionally it is… probably better. We’re trying to encourage farmers to plant Flourish instead of Falcon going forward and then it will be the market that determines values.”

Despite the shift, for now Falcon’s insured dollar value stays the same as winter wheats in the CWRW class, Van Deynze said.

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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