THE HARVEST SURVEY IS ALMOST COMPLETE AND THE RESULTS OF THIS YEAR’S WHEAT CROP ARE NOW AVAILABLE
AS THE 2010 wheat harvest wraps up so does the data collection and final reporting on the Ontario Quality Scoop program. This year’s Quality Scoop consisted of 205 individual wheat samples collected from 14 different elevators and terminals throughout Ontario’s primary winter wheat growing regions. The number of samples collected from within each winter wheat class was roughly proportional to the planted acres from within each class. Approximately 75 percent of the samples collected were soft red winter wheat, while soft white and hard red wheat comprised approximately 12 and 13 percent of the total samples, respectively.
Once received, each individual sample was sent to inspection, which also involved assigning a grade and a basic analysis for protein content and moisture content. After inspection, each sample was assigned a Sample ID number and all pertinent information was recorded in a spread sheet (see Figure 1 below).
FIGURE 1. EXAMPLE OF SAMPLE DOCUMENTATION AFTER INSPECTION.
The information received after inspection provided the first amount of valuable information and crop quality patterns began to emerge. The frequency of degrading factors such as mildew, sprouting and Fusarium was first examined. Fortunately, the 2010 crop year saw approximately 79 percent of samples grading No. 2 or better within all of the winter wheat classes. The data in Figure 2 (below) demonstrates the overall grading improvement in 2010 as compared to 2009.
FIGURE 2. QUALITY SCOOP GRADES BY WHEAT CLASS.
While mildew was still a minor issue, a higher percentage of No. 2 or better in 2010 was largely due to the decreased incidence of Fusarium damage and sprouting.
Other important information gained after inspection included the protein content of the wheat. Due to a downward trend in protein content over the last couple of years, there has been a lot of interest in overall protein content levels for this year. In 2009 the average protein content of a No. 3 or better sample of Ontario soft red winter wheat was 8.7 percent (on a 13.5 percent moisture basis) which is identical to the average protein content of this year’s crop. To put the decreasing protein content trend into perspective, from the years 2000 to 2008 the average protein content for soft red winter wheat was nearly a full percent higher (9.6 percent) than in the 2009 and 2010 crop years (Figure 3 below).
Contrary to soft red winter wheat, the protein content of hard red winter wheat averaged 11.3 percent which is an increase of approximately 0.5 percent from 2009.
Unfortunately, grade and wheat protein content tells only part of the wheat quality story. In order to get the full quality picture the wheat must be milled and analyzed but lab work on the 205 samples received would take several months and be very costly. Therefore flour mill analysis was performed on composite samples in order to expedite the process. Due to the abundance of soft red winter wheat collected, composite samples were made, based on grade and growing region. In the case of soft white winter and hard red winter wheat, there weren’t enough samples to make composites for each region. Therefore, only an overall Ontario-wide composite based on grade could be created.
FIGURE 3. AVERAGE ONTARIO SOFT RED WINTER WHEAT PROTEIN CONTENT 2000-2010.
Once all of the samples were received and the composites created, the milling and analytical process began. Typically, a 500 gram sample of each composite was collected and sent to the lab for analysis of nine different parameters (Figure 4a). Approximately four kilograms of each composite sample was then milled using a small-scale laboratory mill from which a milling yield percentage was calculated. The flour produced was then sent to the analytical lab where it underwent a variety of different tests which all helped identify the quality traits of each composite (Figure 4b below).
FIGURE 4. TESTING PERFORMED ON WHEAT AND FLOUR COMPOSITE SAMPLES.
At the time of this publication the data from the Ontario Quality Scoop had not been fully interpreted. However, a full detailed report outlining the results of the Ontario Quality Scoop will be available on the websites of both the Grain Farmers of Ontario (www.gfo.ca) and Canadian International Grains Institute (www.cigi.ca). •