Bioethanol producer Ensus has confirmed it has started to import EU maize within the last week to compensate for the poor quality of the UK wheat crop.
"We're committed to using UK wheat but this is an exceptional year," said Stewart Easdon, the company's wheat and animal feed manager. Using maize was a means of getting production up to the level expected in a '"normal" year, he said.
"We need to balance off the wheat with a higher starch product."
The lower starch yield and bushel weight of UK wheat this year had presented challenges in terms of handling the increased volume needed and in quality and ethanol yield terms, he said.
"We are trialling it to see how it goes - we don't envisage going to 100% maize."
Ensus relaxed the specific weight criteria on its wheat intake several weeks ago, buying on a 72kg/hl specification but accepting wheat down to 60kg/hl with fallbacks.
The plant is taking in about 80,000t a month of raw material but Mr Easdon would not be drawn on the proportion of maize used to that of wheat. "We are trialling it to see how it goes - we don't envisage going to 100% maize," he said.
The maize was costing roughly the same at intake as home-grown wheat but has a higher starch content. The resulting animal feed co-product of distillers' dried grains and solubles from the wheat/maize mix would be slightly higher in oil but slightly lower in protein than that from an all-wheat feedstock, said Mr Easdon.
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Ensus relaxes specific weight criteria
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