Rejections and claims for poor quality wheat are likely to be rife this year, so farmers should sample all their loads before fulfilling contracts.

Early indications of wheat yields were relatively poor, with low bushel weights and high screenings a common problem, said Andrew Watts, combinable crops chairman at the NFU.

“I’ve heard of bushel weights into the mid-60s. Harvest is seven to 10 days late, so the wheat that’s been cut so far has either died off due to disease, or has been sprayed off for early combining, so it’s not going to be the best quality. I would expect the situation to improve, but bushel weights are going to be a concern.”

Instead of simply hoping wheat loads would be accepted by end users, farmers should sample their stores carefully, and speak to their merchant about where best to place different quality supplies, said Mr Watts.

“Not all homes are making the same deductions – ensure you let your merchant know what you’ve got so they can send it to the most appropriate destination.” Some end users were likely to lower their intake specifications, as research had shown that the feed value of a tonne of wheat was the same regardless of its bushel weight, he added.

John Smith, director of Weald Granary in Kent, said he was segregating all the milling wheat in store. “Normally we’ll take it down to 70kg/hl, but this year I think we will split it into 70-74kg/hl and then 74kg/hl and above. That way, there are blending opportunities and we might still be able to meet the 76kg/hl spec.”

Early wheat quality was extremely variable, with high Hagbergs but low bushel weights of 66-74kg/hl. “The grain does look small and pinched, and there are high levels of screenings.”

However, mycotoxin levels were low so far, in contrast to common expectations, he added. “The highest DON we’ve found is 400 – and the maximum allowed is 1250, so it’s not a concern at this stage.”

For more on harvest issues

See our Harvest Highlights page and photo competition