It Is All About the Grade - PulsePoint
August 17, 2018
Key considerations growers should know before selling their pulses
By Trudy Kelly Forsythe
You have worked hard throughout the growing season to produce high-quality crops. They are harvested, in the bin, ready to go to market, and you want to get the best price possible. But, how do you ensure that happens?
Daryl Beswitherick, Program Manager of National Inspection Standards, for the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC), says there are a couple of key considerations growers should keep in mind when they are selling their grain. First is who they areselling to. Second is what quality they have before they deliver to the buyer.
Know Your Buyer
Growers should know if they are selling to a licensed grain company or not, keeping in mind that a licensed grain company offers the best protection. “The CGC holds security so if a grain company defaults, growers still can make a claim to be compensated for their grain,” says Beswitherick.
Know Your Grade
Growers should also know the grade of their crops before they take samples to the buyer. “Producers should know what quality they have so, when they go to sell their grain, they know if they are receiving the proper grade for their grain from the buyer,” says Beswitherick. “It is really important they know what they have in order to know if they are getting a good deal or not.”
Getting Your Grade
There are a few different options available to growers looking for a grade prior to taking their pulses to their buyers. Many third-party grading companies provide grading services for a fee. Producers can also send samples to one of the CGC offices in Saskatoon or Weyburn to be graded for a fee.
There is a free option as well. Growers can get their grain graded and, for pulses, learn the protein content, for free by participating in the CGC’s Harvest Sample Program, a voluntary program for Canadian grain producers.
“Growers sign up for the program through the CGC website and we send them postage-paid envelopes to put the grain in,” says Beswitherick, explaining for pulses they give an unofficial grade as well as the protein content. Note that the Harvest Sample Program grade is unofficial because the sample size does not meet the minimum weight requirement of 1,000 grams, and because a CGC grain inspector does not collect the sample.
Beswitherick says the program is a great way for growers to get free information about the quality of their grain, but it also helps the CGC in a number of ways. For one, it allows the CGC to provide quality information concerning Canadian grain to marketing companies. The samples also help the CGC evaluate the different grain grading factors to ensure the tolerances are appropriate and determine if changes need to be made, be it revising grading factors to reflect processing needs, or protect the quality reputation of Canadian grain. The samples also provide the information needed to determine the standard samples used to grade grain for that year. Finally, the samples contribute to CGC scientific research projects, including researching grading factors and other quality issues that may affect the end-use quality of Canadian grain.
“It is better to get as much participation as we can from producers,” says Beswitherick, explaining currently pulse crops make up a small percentage of the grain samples they receive each year. Of the approximately 10,000 samples the Grain Commission receives each year, 5,000 are wheat, 2,000 are canola, and the rest are other grains, including pulses.
With knowledge of the grade in hand from a third-party grading company or the CGC, growers are armed with information when they take their product to market. If they can, having their grain graded by more than one buyer is a good idea. However, it does not always make sense since growers are generally contracted to sell to a single buyer.
Beswitherick says that is why it is important to go to a private, third-party grading company or the CGC prior to delivering their grain. “That way they know what they have in their bin and that they are being graded fairly,” he says.
Taking Your Sample
A representative sample accurately represents a specific quantity of grain, such as the contents of an entire grain bin. Growers can take a representative sample by combining many smaller individual grain scoop samples into a larger, composite sample.
“By methodically taking individual scoop samples from the truck when filling a bin, growers ensure the composite sample accurately represents an entire bin of grain that can then be used for grading before you make marketing decisions or deliver your grain," says Beswitherick. “By building composite samples that are representative, growers get accurate information about the quality of their crops.”
Detailed instructions on how to take a representative sample from a single truck or from multiple trucks are available at www.grainscanada.gc.ca under the Publications and Forms section of the site. Additional resources are available on the CGC’s website.