Ontario’s Wheat Company: History & Tradition
A Family Owned Business
Established in 1978, C&M Seeds — “Ontario’s Wheat Seed Company” — introduced hard red winter wheat to Ontario and today is the leading supplier of wheat seed in eastern Canada, including both winter and spring varieties of wheat. From its inception, the company has specialized in this high-value wheat segment and continues to bring leading wheat genetics to growers in eastern Canada. C&M Seeds has introduced all new classes of wheat to Ontario other than Soft White Winter Wheat.
How it All Began
C&M SEEDS began operations in 1978 when the Cameron and McLaughlin families (hence C & M) decided to embark upon a venture into the seed industry. The Cameron’s were winding down a beef operation and the McLaughlin’s were in the process of discontinuing a turnip waxing business. Both families had been producing pedigreed seed, so it seemed the natural progression to extend this production to the end-use market.
In 1983, Palmerston Grain opened its doors and has continually invested in its facilities, technology and people. That vision has brought it to the point where it currently boasts 2.1 million bushels in storage capacity, Identity
Preserved capabilities and state-of-the-art technology. Both C&M Seeds and Palmerston Grain are located just outside Palmerston, Ontario on the 5th line of Minto, where the huge grain elevator and seed processing facility sits on the original family farm of Norris and Eila McLaughlin. In 2014, C&M Seeds decided to go back to their roots, and sold Palmerston Grain to focus on genetic development. The company is currently owned and operated by three siblings, John and Jim McLaughlin and their sister, Anne Schneider. Well-recognized in their community, all three families are also involved in large-scale farming operations.
Today, Tomorrow and the Future
Originally, the main customers were local farmers and co-ops in this mid- western Ontario region. Today, the company has approximately 250 respected dealers all across Ontario and this number is growing annually. Retail trade is still restricted to the local farmers of the area. In the early 1980s, C&M became involved in testing hard red winter wheat lines. This was the first major research effort directed towards red wheat in Ontario since the turn of the century. Red wheat research and variety development remains a major thrust of C&M’s priorities.
Today, red wheat varieties are managed similarly to white wheat varieties, with the exception of hard red wheats requiring higher nitrogen applications to enhance protein. This tremendous cultivar improvement has been made possible by the abolishment of the ‘Kernel Visual Distinguishability’ requirement for registration of red wheats in eastern
Canada. This has allowed the registration of more hard red winters, hard red springs and just recently, soft red winter wheats. C&M Seeds played a major role in engineering this change.
C&M Seeds has diversified our efforts to include all major cereal crops and more recently, soybeans have been added to the research priority list. To date, genetics are sourced from both public and private North American and European breeding institutions. C&M now markets exclusive and public varieties of hard and soft red winter wheat, spring wheat, barley, oats and soybeans in Ontario. The company was also one of the very first to export early maturing soybeans to Europe. C&M Seeds is a highly respected member of the Canadian Seed Trade Association as well as the International Seed Federation (ISF) — with company representation on the board of directors of the ISF. The research community of eastern Canada also recognizes C&M as a major contributor to the overall research effort.
The principal family members still maintain close contact with all aspects of the daily business operations. The company is now solely owned and operated by the McLaughlin Family. Maintaining this relatively small and close-knit group of partners and dedicated employees has allowed C&M to quickly respond to new opportunities which present themselves and flourish in a marketplace of narrow margins and sharp competition. Expanding opportunities brought about by GATT, NAFTA and the ever-increasing demand from former Third World economies, particularly in the Pacific Rim, make this entry into the 21st century a truly exciting time. It is safe to say that efficient and innovative companies like C&M Seeds will continue to find expanded success in the Canadian and international seed industry.