23 February 1996

Exporters shouldnt let Chopin call tune – BCE

FORGET the Chopin Alveograph test, and concentrate on the basics. That is British Cereal Exports advice to wheat growers wanting to keep export options open.

Many delegates who attended a British Cereal Exports conference at Kings Lynn last week were confused about what the test meant to them.

It is widely used on the continent to match bulks of grain to different processes by measuring dough elasticity and strength to indicate protein quality. As such, all exported UK grain is tested.

But farmers in the audience were concerned that they were unaware of the tests parameters, and were therefore working "in the dark."

Merchants here are reluctant to invest in the equipment, due to the £30,000 cost and because each test takes five days. "If youre prepared to pay for it and you dont mind waiting, then well gladly buy one," said a merchant.

Alan Almond assured farmers the test was of little concern to them. "It was designed for the European market which is based on blends." The UK market is largely variety driven, and that is a good indicator of protein quality, he added.

The best insurance is to choose the right varieties and store them separately, and aim for good specific weight, Hagberg falling number and protein (see boxes), he advised.

Those levels are within reach in most years, making the blended flour market the UK growers best option, said ADASs Jim Orson at a second BCE conference in Newcastle.

"We have to accept that most of our export wheats are for competitively priced blending wheats for bread and biscuits, such as Riband."

Specification for those wheats is not demanding, he added. "With care, they can be met by some of our highest yielding wheats."

* The latest BCE growers guide – Cereal Exports, What the Buyers Want shows which of 14 wheat varieties grown in the UK are in demand on the continent, and for which market. Copies from BCE, 0171 263 3391.


&#8226 Bread – Hereward, Spark.

&#8226 Blending – Hereward, Soissons, Riband, Consort, Hunter.

&#8226 Biscuit – Riband, Consort.

&#8226 Feed – All UK fully and provisionally recommended varieties.

&#8226 23% of last years UK cereal crop exported.

&#8226 Select suitable variety.

&#8226 Store separately.

&#8226 Aim for high yield to maximise specific weight (bread flour – 76kg/hl+, biscuits 74-76kg/hl).

&#8226 Combine early to achieve 225+ Hagberg.

&#8226 10% protein achievable with no special husbandry.

&#8226 Overdrying can destroy protein.


Continental blended wheats are tested with the Chopin Alveograph to assess protein quality. But variety is also a good indicator. Provided UKgrowers plant the right types, they can sell for export with confidence.