Search is on for top milling wheat grower

Nabim and HGCA are inviting growers to enter the 2012 Milling Wheat Challenge, with the chance of being crowned the champion milling wheat grower.

Martin Savage, Nabim’s trade policy manager, said the winner will need to demonstrate they are forward-thinking and can consistently grow quality crops of bread-making wheats.

“UK flour millers are committed to UK wheat and farmers. More than 80% of the wheat we mill comes from UK farmers. We work closely with plant breeders and others in the chain to ensure there is a good supply of top-quality milling wheat. We want to support and encourage farmers to grow wheat of the quality our customers require.”

The competition has become established as a formal recognition by Britain’s flour millers of how the country’s best growers combine attention to detail with end-customer awareness and business acumen to create a win:win for the whole wheat chain.

“Growing quality wheat consistently is a difficult task which requires best practice in growing, storage and delivery to meet the exacting standards of the milling trade,” Mr Savage explained.

Adding to Mr Savage’s comments, HGCA’s arable business manager, Pat Thornton, said: “HGCA is pleased to be supporting this year’s competition as a way of promoting best practice in both growing and marketing milling wheat. Our focus will be on looking for growers who have a good understanding of their business costs and an ability to reflect that in their marketing.”

Last year’s winner was James Price (pictured) who farms 440ha at Perdiswell Farm in Oxfordshire.

Entry forms are available via the Nabim and HGCA websites and the closing date for entries is 30 April 2012. The three finalists will be announced at Cereals. Judging of the finalists will take place later that month.

The judges for 2012 will be Martin Savage from Nabim, Pat Thornton from HGCA and Mark Ireland, a Lincolnshire farmer and a former Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year.

Commenting on the competition, Mr Ireland said: “I’ll be looking for a grower who is enthusiastic about farming in general and, more importantly, about growing milling wheat. Plus I’m keen to see someone who is making best use of the soil types farmed, as well as their agronomic approach to variety, fertiliser use and fungicides. I will also look into the detail of the entrant’s harvest and storage logistics and at their previous successes in producing the required milling specification.”

The finalists, together with leaders from the UK wheat supply chain, will be invited to a celebration dinner hosted by Nabim at the Ritz Hotel in London, where the winning grower will be announced.

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