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on September 20, 2016

Great Britain wheat protein levels highest in 10 years

Barley showing smaller specific weight and grain size than in previous years

The average protein level for wheat harvested in Great Britain in 2016 is at the highest level in 10 years, according to the provisional results of Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s Cereals & Oilseeds’ Cereal Quality Survey 2016.

Meanwhile, the provisional results for barley indicate a smaller specific weight and grain size than in previous years.


For the 10,166 wheat samples analyzed before August 31, the provisional average protein level was 12.6 percent. However, at this early stage the results are based predominantly on nabim Group 1 & 2 varieties and are geographically biased towards Eastern and South Eastern England. This bias means the results are liable to change as the rest of the Great Britain crop is harvested and analyzed.

“Compared with previous first provisional results as at 31 August, the current provisional protein values for wheat are the highest they have been at this stage for the past four years, and nearly 1 percent higher than the previous three-year average,” said James Webster, AHDB cereals and oilseeds analyst.

Another measure of the quality of the grain, the Hagberg Falling Number (HFN), has provisionally seen an increase on last year, at 319s in 2016 compared with 312s at this stage last year. Within the wheat samples analyzed, the provisional results represent the lowest specific weights for four years, with an overall average of 77.2Kg/hl. This year is still well above the levels witnessed at the provisional stage in 2012 (71.9Kg/hl).

Skyfall is most notable within the nabim Group 1 varieties, which has once again achieved a specific weight and HFN above the Group 1 average, plus a protein level only 0.1 percent below the average. Skyfall represents a large proportion (46 percent) of the Group 1 sample and also accounts for 23 percent of the total wheat data analyzed at this stage. As with previous years, the early provisional data has a regional bias towards the East and South East, representing 53 percent and 25 percent respectively of the total sample. It is also worth noting that nabim Group 1 varieties account 51 percent of the total sample. As such the current results are biased towards milling wheat varieties and are not a fair representation of the wheat crop as a whole. As further data and releases are published, the regional and varietal biases will be addressed.


For barley, the provisional results indicate a smaller specific weight and grain size than seen in last year’s provisional results, although there is a noticeable divide between winter and spring barley. Nitrogen content is above last year’s level.

The 11,502 barley samples analyzed have revealed an average specific weight of 63.6Kg/hl across Great Britain. The provisional screening data indicates a much smaller grain size than last year, with an average of 88.5 percent being retained by a 2.5mm sieve. There is large difference between winter and spring barley samples with retained levels of 85 percent and 92 percent respectively. This data is in line with the ADAS harvest progress reports and AHDB Recommended Lists trials, which have also identified high screenings in some winter barley samples this year.

The provisional nitrogen content for the 2016 barley crop is 1.61 percent, versus 1.58 percent at the same point last year. As with the wheat sample, the provisional barley results also demonstrate a regional bias towards the East and South East, representing 56 percent of the total sample. The results are subject to change as further samples from other regions are collected and analyzed.

The first set of survey results will be updated in early October and the final 2016 Cereal Quality Survey results will be published in late October/early November.

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