WHEAT QUALITY is better than last year and relatively consistent across the country this harvest, according to updated Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) results.

On average, Hagbergs are 53% above last harvest and 15% above the five year mean at 276 seconds. Specific weight is up slightly on last year at 77.1kg/hl, while protein content is similar to 2004 at 12.7%, results showed.

It is estimated that around 48% of Nabim Group 1 wheat samples tested so far will meet the typical full-specification bread wheat criteria, compared to 9% from the final results last season.

While these interim results remain slightly skewed towards earlier-harvested crops in central and southern areas, quality is better across much of the country, commented HGCA economist, Michael Archer.

“Although final results may highlight some differences we are not seeing the regional split that was evident last year.”

The HGCA’s Emma Jackson believes this better quality combined with drought-affected harvest in Spain and Portugal could improve export prospects.

“Some buyers indicated that their immediate needs are quite well covered but there may be more opportunities before and after Christmas.”

But while many crops may have reached the required quality, actual sales will depend on price competitiveness, she said. “At present UK wheat is more expensive than some of its competitors.”

Spanish and Italian millers have shown interest in uks varieties and millers from the Netherlands have shown particular interest in ukp varieties with protein levels over 13% for blending into bread grists, she added.

Updated information on the HGCA Cereal Quality Survey is available at www.hgca.com and final results are expected in November.