New Grains Lab Helps Market Ontario Wheat Crop

The extensograph at the new grains analytical testing laboratory in Guelph measures the stretching properties of dough.

A new grains analytical testing laboratory will provide value for farmers, plant breeders and the end users of Ontario cereal crops, says Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO).

The lab, a joint venture between GFO and SGS Canada, was officially opened during a ceremony this week at its Guelph location. Grain Farmers CEO Barry Senft says the lab will help provide more information on wheat quality and characteristics and better position the organization to effectively market the crop.

Barry Senft, GFO

Grain Farmers CEO Barry Senft says the new grains analytical testing laboratory will also play an important role in supporting the work of wheat breeders and researchers.

In this video interview, Senft also notes the new lab will have the capability to conduct GFO’s annual harvest survey, a task that has been previously carried out by a company based in western Canada. The survey plays a key role in helping end users determine how they can utilize Ontario’s annual wheat crop.

“Processors do not like surprises,” says Senft. “We know that through growing conditions and harvest conditions, the quality of wheat can change and we need to let processors know what they can expect when it’s coming through their flour mill.”

The joint venture creates the first private commercial grains analytical testing facility for cereal crops in Canada. Senft says the lab will better position Canadian farmers in both domestic and export markets, and will grow to include corn, soybeans, barley and oats in the future.

The lab will also play an important role in supporting the work of wheat breeders and researchers who work to develop new varieties that meet the needs of both farmers and end users, says Senft. He notes that the facility can help ensure “we’re breeding traits that our customers want.”

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. With more than 85,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,800 offices and laboratories around the world. SGS Canada Inc. is part of its global network. “This lab is our way to help this industry be more competitive, better informed and more innovative,” says Don Slobodzian, Vice President Agriculture and Food, SGS Canada.

Paolo Santangelo, SGS

SGS Canada’s Paolo Santangelo says helping end users understand how specific wheats perform in their baking process creates “a lot of value.”

Real Agriculture had an opportunity to tour the lab facility with its Commercial Manager, Paolo Santangelo. In the video, he explains that the key goal of the grains analytical testing laboratory is to “provide science to accompany the art of baking.”

The lab will allow Santangelo and his team to take submitted grain samples, grind the grain, mill wheat and mold, proof and bake dough from the flour produced. Using a full suite of testing equipment, the lab will be able to assess wheat particle size, fermentation, gluten characteristics, enzymatic activity, mixing properties, dough strength and elasticity, and more.

Santangelo notes that end users – from tortilla to bread makers – need to understand how the wheat will perform in their baking process. Being able to provide that information creates “a lot of value.”

 

Bernard Tobin

Bernard Tobin is Real Agriculture's Ontario Field Editor. AgBern was raised on a dairy farm near St. John's, Newfoundland. For the past two decades, he has specialized in agricultural communications. A Ryerson University journalism grad, he kicked off his career with a seven-year stint as Managing Editor and Field Editor for Farm and Country magazine. He has received six Canadian Farm Writers' Federation awards for journalism excellence. He's also worked for two of Canada's leading agricultural communications firms, providing public relations, branding and strategic marketing. Bern also works for Guelph-based Synthesis Agri-Food Network and talks the Real Dirt on Farming.

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