Sean Ellis/Capital Press File
BOISE — Idaho farmers are positioned to take advantage of an growing trend among wheat buyers seeking wheat with specific traits that is “identity preserved.”
That was the message Dennis Capson, a merchandiser for Scoular Co. which specializes in marketing grain, stressed to Idaho Wheat Commission board members at their Oct. 26 meeting.
Capson said his company often receives calls from millers asking for wheat that is identity preserved by variety and trait. Since elevators lack the ability to do that, he said, farmers who identity preserve their wheat could benefit from it.
“If they will keep that wheat separate, it will give us an opportunity to go out and try to market that (and) hopefully there is some premium involved,” he told IWC board members, who are all growers. “I really think that is the future for (wheat) farmers.”
Capson said identity preserving grain “is another way for a farmer to try to get a little more out of his wheat.”
There may or may not be a premium involved in doing that, he said.
“It’s possible, but if they don’t identity preserve it, then it’s not possible,” Capson said. “It’s just commingled wheat.”
Cathy Wilson, the IWC’s director of research collaboration, said Idaho is unique in that it grows four classes of wheat, while most states grow just one, so Idaho growers are accustomed to separating wheat by class.
“Historically, because of that, Idaho growers have had on-farm storage,” she said.
In Idaho, identity preserving wheat has traditionally meant not commingling red and white wheat, Wilson said.
But the next step, which is being dictated by customers wanting a specific wheat trait to set their products apart, is for those farmers to separate their wheat by variety and trait, she said.
“That’s where it’s going and Idaho is positioned to be able to take advantage of that,” Wilson said. “That’s where the money is going to be for the guys who can do that.”
But in order to do that, she added, “you have to have enough on-farm storage to keep that single variety separate. Many growers have on-farm storage. Whether or not they have enough to start segregating by variety or trait is another question.
“Those growers who have invested in that will be in a better position to do identity preserved wheat,” Wilson said.
Idaho wheat growers have been trained to separate their grain by class, whereas in many other states, “wheat is wheat,” said Zac Miller, director of commodities for the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation.
“I think we have a chance to be the first ones there,” he said of the industry trend toward identity preserving wheat on the farm.