MANY OF TODAY’S seed cleaning and processing plants were built in the 70s and 80s when yields were not near what they are today. For instance, in the early 80s spring wheat yields in Alberta were between 25 and 35 bushels per acre. In Manitoba, yields were between about 22 and 30 bushels per acre.

Thanks to the judicious and skilled work of plant breeders bringing improved genetics to the market each year and growers adoption of the latest technology and farm practices, yields have steadily climbed.

We’re seeing spring wheat yields in Alberta in the range of 45 to 52 bushels per acre and in Manitoba 37 to 45 bushels. In canola, we’ve seen yields increase from about 20 bushels per acre to nearly 36 bushels. That trendline is similar across all major crops — wheat, lentils, barley, oats, corn and soybeans.

Today, those same acres are simply putting out more crop, and that’s a good thing when it comes to farm profitability and food cost and availability.

While plant breeders, seed companies and farmers have been making investments throughout the past three to four decades, seed processing facilities haven’t kept pace.

As I travel throughout the country, it’s obvious that cleaning capacity is on the brink of becoming a real bottleneck. Most facilities have made small or partial upgrades here and there, managing to get by from season to season. But this can’t last much longer.

With today’s genetics, we can only expect the upward yield trend to continue, which means many need to upscale their capacity and technology to meet the standards of today’s farms and provide quick throughput.

To best prepare for the years ahead and make sure you are in a position to serve your customers, there are a couple indicators you should consider:

  • Geographical area. Are you looking to expand, maintain or shrink the area or territory you service?
  • Farm size. In most areas, farm size continues to increase, meaning you are dealing with fewer customers with larger acres. This isn’t always the case but needs to be considered.
  • Customer expectations. What do customers want? When do they want it? How can you exceed expectations?

I recognize these seem like no-brainers, but after analysing these points, you’ll be able to better plan the changes needed on your end to build for the future.

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