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WHEAT QUALITY FORECASTS SHOW IMPROVEMENT

Posted 15 April 2002

A HIGHER PROPORTION of UK wheat is forecast to meet bread-making standards, according to a quality prediction model funded largely by HGCA.

Predictions for the quality of this year’s wheat harvest were announced recently (March 28, 2002), by Dr Peter Kettlewell from Harper Adams University College. The announcement is the second set of predictions made since the launch of the innovative HGCA-funded research last year.

The results are based on research which has identified a link between grain quality at Harvest and the weather during the preceding winter, specifically the differences in atmospheric pressure in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) – the northern hemisphere’s version of El Nino.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Kettlewell said: “Our results indicate that the incidence of low specific weight is less likely this year. Equally, there is a higher figure for Hagberg falling number than harvest 2001, which would indicate that it is less likely to be a quality issue this year. This could be good news for both millers and the export market.”

Dr Kettlewell and his team predict that there is a 75% chance that the UK national specific weight (bushel weight) will be between 75.5 and 77.2 hg/hl, with a best estimate of 76.3. They also predict a 75% chance that the UK national Hagberg falling number will be between 250 and 313, but again with a best estimate of 281.

Dr Kettlewell’s analysis of HGCA national grain quality survey data back to 1974 has confirmed that high positive NAO pressure differentials in January are associated with better specific grain weights at harvest. Particularly negative differentials in January and February suggest poorer wheat Hagberg levels.

He continued: “The aim of the project is to help growers and millers plan ahead, by predicting in advance two of the essential bread-making quality criteria – specific weight and Hagberg falling number. We’re especially delighted by the response from millers who’ve continued to offer the support towards the project.”

Dr Kettlewell’s first set of predictions were made 12 months ago, and when judged against HGCA’s final wheat quality figures published in the autumn, proved to be highly accurate for both Hagberg and specific weight.

“But there is always room for improvement,” he adds. “And this year, we will be publishing regionally-based results as well as a national figure. In some parts of the country, such as East Anglia, where we’ve had access to a large number of wheat samples, we are especially confident of our predictions.

“We also hope to improve the accuracy of our predictions, as it’s been shown that autumn NAO has some influence in wheat quality, so these figures will be combined with the spring weather patterns to create a more precise picture.”

Further information is available on the web-site: http://www.harper-adams.ac.uk/wheatqualityforecasts/

(Ends)

Original Press Release produced by Mistral PR for HGCA. This copy distributed by Harper Adams University College.

Further information:

Yvonne Moorhouse, HGCA, 020 7520 3935, yvonne.moorhouse@hgca.com

Catriona Lennox, Mistral PR, 01865 883 308, catriona.lennox@mistral-pr.co.uk

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