30 May 1997

Biscuit wheats not fit for job

SOME feed wheats do not live up to the biscuit-making claims being made for them.

That is the view of Bill Angus, senior wheat breeder at Nickerson Seeds. Several soft wheats are being promoted as biscuit-makers, but are not suitable, he argues.

"Processors are getting quite annoyed about this. They say varieties rated five for biscuit-making dont suit the use." Those varieties could also cause export problems if Continental biscuit-makers find they dont work, he says.

"Plant breeders must choose their breeding criteria to relate more to the end-user, otherwise the farmer is going to end up growing the wrong varieties for the market place," Mr Angus adds.

Richard Fenwick, head of cereals trials at NIAB agrees. "Varieties rated five are not suitable for biscuit-making. They need a seven to be acceptable."

Nickerson believes it has a true biscuit wheat in Claire. It derives from a cross between Wasp, a low yielding, soft endosperm variety which produces good biscuits, and Flame, a high yielding feed type.

Significantly, neither variety had the 1B/1R genetic sequence. "Include that in a variety and it certainly isnt going to be a biscuit maker," says Mr Angus.

Claire is now being grown for 20t biscuit making trials and distilling checks. "We are also working with agrochemical companies to ensure the variety has the lowest loading of pesticides possible when supplied to the processor." &#42