Wheat quality in the spotlight at the AHDB Milling Wheat Conference

The importance of the supply chain working together, particularly during this challenging growing season, was highlighted at this year’s AHDB Milling Wheat Conference, which took place on Thursday, February 27 in Cambridgeshire.

The event emphasised the role of growing quality wheat, taking in the latest market information, best practice in growing and views from individuals and organisations throughout the milling wheat supply chain from breeders to growers, hauliers to millers.

Dr. Sarah Clarke, ADAS research scientist, said: “Variety choice and nutrition are both key to achieving bread-making quality.

“Growers can benchmark and learn more about their quality from entering the YEN Wheat Quality Competition and could think about carrying out tramline trials for nutrition programmes to see what could be achieved on their farm.”

Joe Brennan, policy and research officer for the National Association of British and Irish Flour Millers (nabim), presented on the new regulations for ergot.

He said: “Changes to ergot regulations will impact how millers treat this contaminant and growers need to be aware of what they can do to minimise the risk of rejection.

These regulations are a sign of the times, and the whole chain needs to keep working together to advocate for rules that ensure the food safety of cereals and their products, while remaining practical for each sector.

At the conference, the ADAS Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) Wheat Quality Award winner for harvest 2019 was announced as James Perry of Aldburys Farm Contracting, Essex, whose entry was sponsored by AHDB.

The awards, sponsored by nabim, recognise excellence and innovation in achieving high yield and quality in Group 1 milling wheats.

The YEN Wheat Quality Award winners are:

  1. James Perry, Aldburys Farm Contracting, Essex. Sponsor: AHDB;
  2. Ian Rudge, Bedfordia Farms, Bedfordshire. Sponsor: Hutchinsons;
  3. Trevor Pierce, R Sternberg Farms, Kent. Sponsor: Bayer.

Perry’s winning entry yielded 12.6t/ha with a protein yield of 1.5t/ha. During the assessment process, it was noted that not only did this entry yield well, but high quality was seen in the grain through to the final loaf.

James Perry said: “We are a small farm, but have a large contracting portfolio. This means we can invest in up-to-date and large kit. We use a self-propelled 24m sprayer even though we only cover 300ac a year on our own farm.

“When the time comes to put on fungicides or other applications, we can go at exactly the right time.

This year, we looked closely at the YEN report for any shortfalls on nutrients. We decided to use a different variety and this field had some farmyard manure applied to it. It was all about attention to detail and doing the right things on time.

AHDB knowledge exchange manager Teresa Meadows said: “AHDB is pleased to sponsor entries into the YEN each year.

“It is a great way to learn more about your crop, how to achieve more of your potential and, in this instance, learn more about how your management through the season can influence the final milling quality of the loaf.

“James’ attention to detail gives consistently high-quality milling wheat for their local markets. It has been great to be able to share the learnings from their approach more widely to the benefit of the industry.”