If you can get a contract, hard white wheat easily fits into any wheat rotation

“I do find it a bit harder threshing than a red wheat. You have to set the combine to be a bit more aggressive, but otherwise it makes a nice stand and yields well.”

Don’t be afraid of hard white wheat. You need an identity preserved (IP) contract to grow it, but beyond that, it is virtually the same as growing hard red wheat, growers say. It yields about the same or maybe a tad higher than hard red, and there are limited price premiums available.

That opening paragraph may be an invitation to hurry up and wait, because truth is there won’t be many new contracts available for 2010. Current markets demand is for less than 200,000 acres in Western Canada and farmers who grew the crop in 2009 will likely have first dibs on contracts for the coming year. But it doesn’t hurt to ask at the Canadian Wheat Board, at your nearest Paterson Grain or Richardson Pioneer outlet, or select SeCan growers to see if contracts might be available.

Growers who have some experience with the two main varieties — AC Snowbird and 2009’s new release AC Snowstar — see no difference from growing hard red spring. Depending on where you farm, AC Snowstar may have a few agronomic improvements over Snowbird, but both are still good wheat varieties.

Here is what this month’s panel has to say about hard white wheat.

EDWIN HARMS MATHER, MAN.

Edwin Harms says AC Snowbird replaced hard red wheat in his rotation for the past four years. It is a good yielder and has earned a price premium.

Harms, who crops about 1,400 acres of wheat, canola, flax and barley on their mixed farm in south central Manitoba, says hard white wheat yields may even be slightly higher than hard red spring wheat.

He is not sure of his plans for 2010, however. AC Snowbird has been good, but if there are no price premiums this year, he may look at some newer, high yielding hard red spring varieties instead.

Harms also runs a 100-head cow-calf beef herd, as well as an of cereal leaf diseases, which is again a standard practice.

“AC Snowbird appears to be very similar to AC Barrie in terms of maturity,” says Harms. “Depending on the weather, we usually straight cut the crop.” And most years they have been able to deliver some or all of the hard white wheat straight to the elevator. Some may have to be stored for a delivery call later.

“One difference I did see is that the AC Snowbird did thrash a little harder than other wheats, and I suppose that means it can also handle the weather a little better too,” says Harms. “The kernels seem to stay in the head a bit more, so you have to adjust your combine accordingly.”

Harms says with newer, higher yielding hard red spring wheats on the market, he will have to

— KEVIN YAUCK, GOVAN, SASK.

elk antler operation at Mather, just north of the North Dakota border.

“We started with hard white wheat because contracts were available and you could haul everything at once,” says Harms. “We didn’t see any difference in growing the hard white compared to the hard red and yields were actually a bit higher over the varieties we had been growing.” Harms says AC Snowbird produced about 50 bushels per acre in 2009.

Last year he direct seeded about 400 acres of AC Snowbird in early May into canola stubble, with about 80 pounds of nitrogen and 30 to 40 pounds of phosphorus. Using certified seed supplied under the IP contracting program through Paterson Grain, the seed was already treated with a fungicide.

Other than in-crop weed control, he also applied Tilt for control see what price premiums are for hard white before deciding what to grow in 2010.

RON MARKERT VULCAN, ALTA

As a southern Alberta seed grower, Ron Markert has grown both AC Snowbird and AC Snowstar. He’s produced AC Snowstar, a variety registered to SeCan the past two years, although in 2008 virtually all his production was hailed out.

“The 2009 crop was really quite a surprise,” says Markert, who produces wheat, barley, canola, special crops and grass seed on his farm about 100 km south of Calgary. “I had two fields and when I walked through them I made an estimate on yield, but in actual fact they were about 10 bushels more per acre than I guessed. There is more there than you think.”

Markert says one field yielded 55 to 60 bushels per acre, while the other went 45 to 50 bushels.

“The hard red and hard white are quite comparable,” he says. “I treat the hard white just the same as any other wheat. The crop is seeded in early May, it receives the same fertility as other wheat, stands well and makes an excellent crop for straight cutting.”

KEVIN YAUCK GOVAN, SASK.

Kevin Yauck has found AC Snowstar to be decent yielding and have a high bushel weight as well. The newer hard white variety has a smaller seed than hard red spring wheat, but he treats both classes of wheat the same.

“I treat it very much the same as I do hard red wheat,” says Yauck, who grows wheat, barley, canola, flax, lentils and peas on his farm about an hour north of Regina.

He has grown hard white wheat varieties for about the past eight years, starting with AC Snowbird and now has grown AC Snowstar for the past two years.

The hard white wheat is direct seeded about the third week of May with a 66-foot Seed Master drill with a sideband of anhydrous ammonia. In 2009, he seeded it into pea stubble at a rate of 90 to 95 pounds per acre. Fertilizer included 85 pounds of nitrogen and 25 pounds of a phosphorus/sulphur blend. All seed receives an application of Raxil fungicide treatment as a standard production practice.

With about 185 acres of hard white wheat, Yauck says other than in-crop herbicides, the only other treatment was an insecticide to treat for wheat midge. Wheat midge has been a problem in his area for the past two years.

Despite a fairly cool growing season, he was able to combine the wheat in September before the weather turned and brought about a month long delay in harvest during October.

“It has average wheat maturity, not being early or late,” says Yauck. “But I do feel the AC Snowstar has a stronger straw than AC Snowbird. AC Snowbird is a bit taller and can go down.”

Yauck was able to straight cut AC Snowstar with an average yield of 55 to 60 bushels per acre.

“One difference is that I do find it a bit harder threshing than a red wheat,” he says. “You have to set the combine to be a bit more aggressive, but otherwise it makes a nice stand and yields well.

“I see very little difference between the hard whites and the hard red spring wheats. And both AC Snowstar and AC Snowbird a very comparable. I don’t think anyone growing them has to be concerned about a wreck.”

Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]

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Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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