So far it looks like bushel weight is going to be the priority grading factor in Durum this year. Locally I have seen only a couple of samples so far. Samples are the nicest I have ever seen. Near perfect HVK, no fusarium, no smudge, no ergot, extremely minimal midge damage and solid proteins. Weights have ranged from “61 to 64lbs per bushel”. Per CGC standard bushel weight is not based on lbs per bushel it is based on grams per 1/2 litre. #1ad needs to be 387 grams per 1/2 litre, #2ad 377g, and #3ad 362g. This is important to know because there are 2 different conversions. One for “Avery Bushel” (A) and one for “Winchester Bushel” (W). Click here for conversion chart, note that at 387 grams you could be converted as 63.3lbs/bu or 60.1lbs/bu. I believe Avery is “correct”, but what is important is lbs/bu is not the standard, grams per 1/2 litre is. This is important as you might perceive the same sample as either a solid #1ad or a poor #2ad depending which conversion is being used. Another piece to key on is the test should be done on a CLEAN sample. Most elevators are skipping that step because they are in the habit of weight not being a grading factor. See bushel weight grading process here.
Once we get to the stage of getting full farm sampling done and start making deliveries I want you to be informed, and prepared to effectively negotiate and get full value for the bushel weight you have. If bushel weight is indeed the only grade factor downgrading your sample the first thing you need to know is that you can deliver “subject to grade” which means elevator is required to split load samples and submit to CGC and CGC grade is final. If you are downgrading only on weight you have zero risk of challenging in this way. Either you end up with lower grade elevator gave you or you get better, you won’t get worse. The conversation, or threat of this alone might be enough to convince elevator to give you benefit of higher grade.
The other tactic that may be beneficial is to negotiate to be paid for your weight. For example; your Durum weight comes back at 384g per 1/2 litre. Elevator says you get a #2ad. You know the minimum spec is only 377g for a #2ad and you know #1ad is 387g. So you don’t have a #1ad, but you are way better than a minimum #2ad. The elevator is likely to have lighter bushel weights coming in. They can use your 384g to blend 370g #3ad up to a #2ad. Why give them that benefit? I think you should get paid for your weight. In this example you are 7/10ths of the way to a #1ad so I would ask/demand that 70% be bought as #1ad and 30% as #2ad and not accept everything going in as #2ad.
While it is still unclear what elevator buying strategy will be it is good to know how things work. If grade spreads narrow (I think they will) negotiating this may not benefit you by more than $0.10-0.35bu. Even if it is small though, I would rather the money be in your pocket than grain companies. You aren’t screwing anybody by negotiating this. If they are buying responsibly you won’t be taking money out of their pocket. What will probably happen is elevator can’t pass your money on to grower who might have gotten a #2ad for his #3ad (370g) Durum.
PS For those of you using scales and converting to bushel per acre for inventory and data management make sure you know what conversion is being used for calibration and conversions!