Press Releases

Alberta Wheat Commission reminds growers to know their quality to maximize earnings


(Calgary, Alberta) October 12, 2016 –The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) is reminding growers to know all the factors affecting the quality of their wheat to ensure they are getting the maximum price for this year’s crop.

It is that time of year when growers are shopping around their samples, which is critical in a year where quality has been affected by excess moisture. If growers are not satisfied with downgrades due to sprout damage or Fusarium Head Blight (FHB), they should consider getting a second opinion.

“The falling number may meet the specification a buyer is looking for, regardless of the visual sprouting, which can result in a better price,” says Kevin Auch, Alberta Wheat Commission Chair. “Growers should ask their buyer to do a falling number test or have one done by a third party.”

Falling number is known to correlate highly with sprout damage and internationally is an accepted way to measure it. Most international buyers require a falling number of 300 or greater with some buyers requiring over 350 in certain circumstances. Wheat graded with a falling number greater than 300 is expected to have no or very little sprout damage, while wheat under 300 is expected to have sprout damage to varying degrees.

“Since 2003, the average falling number on a Grade 3, Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat has been well over 300 so if you are being downgraded into a 2, 3 or feed because of sprouting, but if your falling number is good, you may have the opportunity to negotiate with buyers,” adds Caalen Covey, AWC Business Development and Markets Manager.

Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) is also assessed through Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) standards on a visual basis. However, the visual inspection may not represent Deoxynivalenol (DON), commonly referred to as vomitoxin levels in your wheat. Therefore, a vomitoxin test may be warranted if your grade is not representative of the actual quality.

“If your sample has been downgraded significantly for fusarium, getting a vomitoxin test may be worth your while, as the actual levels could differ from the visual inspection, or your sample could have non-Don producing fusarium, which would allow you to better negotiate with the buyer,” explains Covey.

There are a number of companies and seed labs that can do the tests, which are fairly inexpensive and growers can also get a binding grade decision from the CGC. Another key recommendation is to take good samples at harvest time from every load and ensure they are well preserved, as this can provide bargaining power and buyers will become more confident in deliveries if the samples accurately represent what you are delivering.

AWC has produced a guide entitled “Know your wheat quality to maximize earnings,” which is posted in our Blog section.
Media Contact:
Amanda Ryan
Communications Manager
P. (403) 219-7902 C. (587) 777-6344