24 July 2002

Wheat quality up this season, says forecast

Wheat quality, mycotoxin

control and better root

harvesting were topics at the

Crops Open Day at Harper

Adams University College.

Simon Wragg reports

WHEAT quality is set to be better this harvest with a marginal increase in specific weight and a big lift in Hagberg over last years crop.

Researchers estimate specific weight will average 76.3kg/hl with a 75% chance that crops will achieve between 75.7-77.2kg/hl, a small rise on last years HGCA average quality sample of 75.8kg/hl.

But producers should expect a bigger increase in Hagberg. Predictions from researchers at HAUC and Reading University suggest an average of 281 with a 75% chance that Hagberg will be 250-313, up from 251 last year.

"We are confident the predictions will be accurate," says HAUCs Peter Kettlewell. Researchers monitor the difference in air pressure across the North Atlantic in January and February – which closely mirrors changes in crop quality – to estimate changes in wheat quality between seasons.

That could be good news for growers. With an estimated wheat area of 2.07m hectares (5.07m acres) – up 27% on last year – the UK is facing a sizeable surplus and prices could suffer, particularly if quality slips. "Improvement in quality will be welcome," says Dr Kettlewell. &#42