29 October 1999

Quibbles on grain quality still rumble

DIFFERING results from wheat quality surveys conducted by the HGCA and the grain trade are continuing to cause concern.

According to Glencore Grains Robert Kerr the discrepancy is misleading farmers, suggesting quality and Hagberg in particular, is better than expected.

HGCA interim figures issued earlier this month based on over 1000 samples report group one and two Hagbergs averaging well above 260, group three and four over 220 and an overall UK picture of 252.

"Our results do not reflect the HGCA survey," says Glencores Angela Gibson. "We query whether they have a representative or sufficient sample."

George Mason of Miller Heygates agrees. "I cannot concur with the HGCA at all. I dont doubt their accuracy of testing and reporting information, I just question how they have gathered samples in proportion to cutting date."

The HGCA practise of averaging Hagbergs is particularly misleading, Ms Gibson continues. "Falling number values are not additive, you need to report Hagbergs in bands for it to be meaningful."

To allow a direct comparison she has averaged Glencore data from over 6250 samples collected throughout the UK. Her figures are 58-75 points lower than HGCA averages, groups one, two and three/four averaging 215, 209 and 162, respectively.

HGCAs Rupert Somerscales defends the survey. "We collate our data from about 30 merchants, co-operatives and ports throughout the country and use a lab to check the accuracy of analysis."

Figures are weighted on a regional basis according to MAFF plantings, while proportion of crop cut pre- and post-rain is also taken into account. Mr Somerscales stresses that the survey is yet to be completed and final figures may vary from interim data.