Lots of dark clouds have silver linings. When a stem rust epidemic damaged much of Western Canada’s in the 1960s wheat crops, farmers did what they usually do…they innovated. Today, if there is one grain crop that Canada’s farmers are recognized for globally, it’s durum wheat. Because of its high gluten content, durum is the basis for the finest pastas on earth, including the brands we import as well the great couscous made in the Middle East. If you go to a specialty supermarket you’ll see rows of Italian pasta and bags of couscous all of which I’d like to see labelled proudly as Product of Canada.
Durum wheat is mainly grown in the Prairies (some Ontario farmers are planting it ). Strongfield is one of the most popular durum wheat cultivars grown in western Canada, known for its high yield,high protein content, gluten strength and pigment concentration. Bred by Dr. John Clarke at the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Currently, more than 90 per cent of the durum wheat produced in Canada comes from cultivars developed at the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre.
Photo courtesy of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.