Picking the Right Class of Wheat

In some cases, it pays to be different. This can be true for the type of wheat that you choose to produce.

In Ontario, there are three main classes of winter wheat that are grown. Soft red, soft white, and hard red wheat. Each type of grain has a different quality profile and different end use. When the end-users find a grain class or specific variety that possesses the characteristics that
they desire, they often pay a premium for it. There are many examples of this in wheat.

Soft Red Winter Wheat

Currently, roughly half of the soft red wheat that is produced in Ontario is milled in Ontario. The remainder is gathered for export. Southwestern Ontario and the north-eastern United States produce a very large amount of Soft Red Winter Wheat. The flour from soft red wheat is usually used for baking of cookies, crackers, and cakes.

The varieties in the soft red class tend to be strongest for grain yield, and the most durable to resist late season stability issues, disease pressure or sprouting. This makes them a safe choice for those growers who have many acres to combine, or rely on custom harvesting services. Risk of the grain quality deteriorating is lower if the weather causes harvest delays.

Identity preserved options do exist for certain varieties, but generally speaking, the premiums are low, because there is already such a large amount of soft red wheat grown in our region. Recently, the premium has generally only been $0.15 to $0.30 per bushel, for certain varieties.

Hard Red Winter Wheat

The majority of the Hard Red Winter Wheat grown in Ontario is used for milling to make flour for baking products like bread rolls, and batter coatings. The wheat that is milled primarily for flour to make bread products is Canada Western Red Spring wheat, and that class of wheat is produced in large amounts though Western Canada, the wheat is all shipped in to Ontario from the Prairies. A portion of the hard red wheat grown in Ontario is blended and milled in small proportions with western wheat.

The genetic profiles of hard red winter wheats have advanced nicely in recent years, the varieties now possess strong agronomic traits, and are making higher yields. There is no longer a large production deficit that was perceived to exist in years past.

There are currently only two offers for Identity Preserved contracts to produce HRWW. The first example is a program that will pay additional $1.00 per bushel above the price of SRW.

Soft White Wheat

The soft white wheat grown in Ontario is used in similar flour products as the soft red wheat. 40 years ago, soft white wheat was the class of wheat grown on most acres in Ontario. C&M Seeds was very instrumental in changing that with introduction of red wheat varieties.

The Soft White Wheat that is grown in Ontario, does generally have a strong yield potential, but carry risk in disease and sprouting as the crop
matures. The grain is very sensitive to weather condition at harvest time, and has the biggest risk of sprouting in the grain, in comparison to the other classes. Harvest needs to be done in a very timely manor, in order to end up with a good quality grain product.

The Identity Preserved pricing premiums for this class can tend to vary widely from year to year. The premiums have ranged from $0.30 per bushel, to as high as $1.25 per bushel.

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