11 August 1995

Premiums assured if Soissons meets quality standard

GROWERS of Soissons wheat in Northants and neighbouring counties can now obtain guaranteed premiums for their grain thanks to a local merchants new quality assurance scheme.

But high agronomy standards are expected. Periodic checks will ensure compliance and allow full traceability of grain.

Described as the first of its type in the country by Long Buckby-based Charles Jackson and Co, the scheme is paying £8/t over feed this harvest for 15% moisture wheat with a minimum specific weight of 74kg/hl and a maximum thousand grain weight of 43. Higher premiums are paid for full milling wheat specification material.

Mr Jackson expects similar payments next year, when "several thousand tonnes" of quality assured Soissons will be needed by a leading breakfast cereal maker.

The aim is to bolster consumer confidence in cereals by addressing production, food safety, traceability and environmental concerns, he says. Participating growers will need to demonstrate good management.

Although no approved list of pesticides is planned, evidence of good spraying practice, like using approved chemicals according to label recommendations, should be available for inspection.

Standing crops will be assessed for cleanliness, and stores inspected for good hygiene. "We will continually assess our suppliers to ensure standards are maintained, and our customers will also be entitled to visit the farms," says Mr Jackson.

If successful, other varieties and markets will be covered in future projects, he adds. &#42