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.
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
FEED MILLING TECHNOLOGY