Know exactly what’s in your bins before selling your grain.
“One of the things that we can’t emphasize strongly enough is that farmers really should be getting good independent third-party samples of their grain,” said Jonathon Driedger, senior market analyst with FarmLink.
“Then you know exactly what you have. You have a sample sheet that you can shop around to other buyers. And that allows you to shop it around on a more widespread basis.”
Understanding your actual grade and having that third-party opinion could help you take advantage of opportunities to sell your grain as they pop up, said Driedger.
“Movement opportunities can often pry themselves open, but often they’re fleeting and get filled quickly,” he said. “So if you don’t have that sample graded and in front of you in that moment, often the opportunity passes if you’re not in a position to act quickly.”
And the harvest sample program can provide that grade at no cost, added Bill Adduono, operations supervisor for the Canadian Grain Commission.
“That program is free — you can go on to our website and sign up electronically and there’s a number you can also call,” he said. “They mail out the kit, and sending the samples back in the envelopes is postage paid.”
(For more info on this program and how to get a representative sample, go to grainscanada.gc.ca and click the ‘Protection for grain producers’ pull-down menu.)
Adduono also said knowing the grade can make a big difference when selling.
“When they approach an elevator, they have that knowledge, and if they’re making bulk deals, they can pencil it out and know that they’re getting that value when they deliver all their grain.”
Producers can also use the harvest sample program to get a second opinion if they think their grade is lower than normal — a likely occurrence in a year like this one where grain quality so far this harvest seems to be down.
“The few samples that have come in here have been degraded for mildew or have mildew present, and that’s reflective of how much rain we’ve had,” Adduono said in a late-August interview.
“The program has only tested 18 samples of red spring wheat, and 12 of the 18 graded No. 2. In other years, I would think 12 out of the 18 samples would grade No. 1.”
With that dip in quality, marketing could be “a lot more work” this year, but producers can make it a bit easier by having their grade handy, said Driedger.
“It’s going to be a challenging year for a lot of growers with the quality that they have, and there’s not much you can do about it,” he said. “At the end of the day, you need to shop around extensively, have good samples, and be realistic about the quality that you have.”