Jon Parker questions the Britishness of British-grown wheat

So Hovis decide that this year they aren’t going to use 100% British wheat in their loaves. Well, the quality of a lot of the wheat produced in the UK this year was pretty poor and they need to produce a consistently good product to put on our supermarket shelves. Understandable decision or not?

There are those out there who can understand and support this decision and there are those who see it being wholly unacceptable. I am probably in both camps. Buy British if you can, but if the quality isn’t right then look elsewhere.

For those who see it being unacceptable, this is the story of wheat grown on our farm. Post-harvest the ground is cultivated with an American-owned/British-built cultivator pulled by an American tractor. The seed, which has come from a German breeder, is placed in the ground by a Swedish drill. The fields are then rolled with a set of British rolls. German slug pellets may then be applied using a Japanese quad bike with a British slug pelleter on.

The field will then be sprayed with German herbicides, fungicides and maybe insecticides, using a British sprayer. Fertiliser will be applied to this crop by an American tractor with a French fertiliser spreader. The phosphate has come from Africa, the potash from Russia and the nitrogen is made by a Norwegian company. The decision on sprays will be made by myself, after I have got out of my Japanese truck and been field walking in my French wellies.

Throughout the growing season the crop will receive the great British weather and then it will be harvested by an American combine manufacturer that builds its combines in Germany. So is British wheat really British?

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