Through its harvest sample program, the Canadian Grain Commission collects wheat samples from across the Prairies, grades them, and compiles the results.
For the 2018 crop year, the CGC found an average protein level of 13.83 per cent for western Canadian No. 1 CWRS. On average, samples from Alberta and B.C. were higher than this, at 14.33 per cent. Saskatchewan’s samples brought down the average, with an average of 13.45 per cent from Sask. Prairie protein levels were higher in 2018 than in 2017, when the average protein level for No. 1 CWRS was 13.04 per cent.
Mitchell Japp, provincial cereal crop specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture, spoke about protein levels at a Saskatchewan Agriculture grain-grading and quality workshop in Weyburn in January. As we grow higher yields, Japp said, “sometimes the protein starts to drop off.” Over time, as we see new seed varieties with higher yield potential, he said, “what we’re not seeing is major increases in protein.”
Wheat protein levels are linked to nitrogen availability. First, the seed will use the available nitrogen to optimize yield, then protein. Japp told participants, “When you’re considering protein, the question I ask is, ‘How much does it pay?’”
With the Canadian Wheat Board out of the picture, information about the economic value of protein is less publicly available than it was in the past. And, the value of higher-protein grain will vary depending on local premiums and discounts, which change from year to year, and during the year. “Demand is somewhat limited for protein greater than 13.5 per cent,” Japp said. Finding the value of protein in your area will take a little legwork (or phone-dialing work, calling local buyers).