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Harvest conditions: Effects on wheat quality and routes to addressing issues of agronomic, processing and financial

Harvest conditions: Effects on wheat quality and routes to addressing issues of agronomic, processing and financial

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For the 2013 crop of UK wheat, the weather during planting was poor hence, farmers sowed more spring wheat, but because the weather improved, the final crop quality was average.
For the 2013 crop of UK wheat, the weather during planting was poor hence, farmers sowed more spring wheat, but because the weather improved, the final crop quality was average.

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Published by: Milling and Grain (formerly GFMT) on Jun 18, 2014
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12/09/2014

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Digital Re-print - May | June 2014
Harvest conditions: Effects on wheat quality and routes to addressing issues of agronomic,
processing and fnancial
Grain & Feed Milling Technology is published six times a year by Perendale Publishers Ltd of the United Kingdom. All data is published in good faith, based on information received, and while every care is taken to prevent inaccuracies, the publishers accept no liability for any errors or omissions or for the consequences of action taken on the basis of information published. ©Copyright 2014 Perendale Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior permission of the copyright owner. Printed by Perendale Publishers Ltd. ISSN: 1466-3872
 
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or the 2013 crop of UK wheat, the weather during planting was poor hence, farmers sowed more spring wheat, but because the weather improved, the final crop quality was average.
The aim of the miller is to maintain the production of flour that performs consist-ently in processing. Hence, the miller tests wheat quality to maintain the quality of the raw materials entering the mill.Quality means different things for dif-ferent products and therefore a number of factors are important when assessing wheat quality. Some quality issues will render wheat unsuitable for human or even animal con-sumption. Wet wheat is unsuitable for safe storage and can lead to fungal-based spoilage or premature germination.  Wheat contaminated by the addition of foreign material, ergot or chemicals leads to food safety risks. Partially germinated grains,  those of low density, of unsuitable varieties or low protein content may be unsuitable for processing.
The role of the grower
Growers play a key role in producing high quality wheat. They begin influencing wheat quality by selecting appropriate varieties for the soil type and climate. The planting season defines the varieties sown. During the lifecycle of the plant, the farmer monitors plant health. They use this information to treat the crop with nutrients such as nitrogen and sulphur and chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides to encour-age healthy plant growth. The weather influences plant growth and  the opportunities to plant seeds and apply  treatments can limit the farmer’s control of wheat quality. After harvest, the safe storage of wheat before trade to the miller is essen- tial. For further information see, The Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) “Grain Storage Guide for Cereals and Oilseeds,” which applies food safety approaches to the storage of cereals (www.hgca.com).The variety of wheat largely defines  the quality of subsequent products, for example, flour. The genetics of a variety endows resistance to disease and premature germination whilst also defining grain shape, specific weight, resistance to variations in harvest conditions and the ability to store protein efficiently. To support the farmers in selecting appropriate varieties in the UK, the National Association of British and Irish Millers (nabim) publish a categorisation of wheat varieties, summarised in Table 1, based on at least  three years of trial data. The trials consider  the suitability of the wheat for bread and biscuit processing.
The role of the miller
The miller is responsible for supplying consistent flour of the quality required by  the baker and therefore demands control over wheat quality. A contract of trade defines the quality measurements and sets acceptable limits. These tests include rapid tests by mill intake laboratories that enable the efficient unloading of wheat. However, where quality raises concerns, further testing may be required.The miller uses rapid tests, summarised in Table 2, to measure the quality of traded wheat at the mill. These include a visual inspection to determine the suitability of the wheat for milling and may result in rejection:Damaged grains could indicate infesta-
Table 1: Categorisation of wheat varieties, published by nabim to communicate their preference for UK wheat varieties demonstrated as suitable for processing (Source: nabim Wheat Guide 2013 www.nabim.org.uk)Group 1These varieties perform consistently in milling and baking.Group 2These varieties exhibit bread-making potential, but not of the consistent high performance of those in Group 1. Some speciality varieties may be included.Group 3These varieties are suitable for biscuit, cake and other soft-milling, low protein applications.Group 4These varieties do not meet the processing quality criteria described for Groups 1-3.
Harvest conditions:
Effects on wheat quality and routes to addressing issues of agronomic, processing and financial
by Mervin Poole, Analytical Service, Cereals and Ingredients Processing Department, Campden BRI, UK
46 | May - June 2014GRAIN
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 tions by insects or mites. Enzymes produced by insects to digest wheat proteins render  the protein unsuitable for some baking applicationsOdours, taints, shrivelled, pink or green grains may suggest contamination by mould or chemicals, which indicates a risk of poi-sonous mycotoxins or dangerous chemicals entering the food chainErgot is a fungus from the genus Claviceps. The fruiting bodies are dark coloured fun-gal spores known as sclerotia that contain poisonous alkaloids. They have a creamy white centre of similar size and density to a wheat grain and are therefore difficult to separate from wheat. The risk to human and animal health excludes wheat from the food chain if it contains these poisonous sclerotia. Furthermore, the EU Commission Regulations (Numbers 1234/2007 and 1272/2009) have set maximum levels per-mitted under EU regulations of 500mg/kg of sclerotia in wheatDark coloured grains can indicate heat-damage due to drying the wheat at high  temperatures. Heat above approximately
40˚C damages the proteins in wheat making
 them less capable of producing a functional gluten network Skilled intake technicians may recognise varieties by visual examination. A passport scheme supports the traceability of wheat and states its variety. As a significant propor- tion of quality is fixed by variety, this is a key indicator of quality and further testing may be required if the sample does appear as expected
Moisture, protein and other factors
Independent to the visual inspection, the miller measures moisture because wheat cannot be stored safely above 14.5 percent moisture on a mass basis. Drying grain is expensive and grain is  traded based on weight. Therefore, the miller does not wish to pay for either the cost of drying or the extra weight of the water included with the grain.The miller measures protein content because specific products need appropriate flour protein for their manufacture. The acceptable threshold for bread wheat is 13.0 percent. Below 13.0 percent wheat protein,  the derived flour is incapable of maintaining  the consistent bread loaf-volumes expected by consumers.Premature germination of wheat due to variety, moisture and heat in either the field or following storage causes the production of an enzyme, which breaks down stored starch to sugar. The miller measures the quantity of this enzyme by the Hagberg Falling Number test. Low Falling Number values indicate excess enzyme. The threshold for bread wheat is a minimum of 250s. Below this level,  the enzyme releases too much sugar, which feeds the yeast causing uncontrolled holes or
Table 2: Tests used to assess wheat quality in a mill intake laboratory TestConsiderations and impactLimitsSensory evaluationInfestation, odours, taints, heat-damage and variety all suggest safety and quality failuresProtein contentpoor bread volume and texture>13% on a dry matter basisMoisture contentUnsafe for storage, costly to dry, <14.5%Specific weight (Hectolitre weight or bushel weight)Low density equates to lower flour yields during milling and below 76kg/hl indicates grain quality problems>76kg/hl -Amylase content (Hagberg’s falling number)Too much sugar released from the starch during baking. Dark, sticky breadcrumb with large holes.>250s
May - June 2014 | 47GRAIN
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FEED MILLING TECHNOLOGY
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