From a milling perspective, there’s good news about the quality profile of the 2014 wheat crop in Western Canada.
Mildew is to blame for much of this year’s Canada Western Red Spring wheat falling outside of the top two grades, but wheat grading as #3 CWRS due to mildew is still exhibiting quality characteristics that millers want — attributes that they would expect from a higher grade wheat.
“A lot of our wheat has been downgraded due to mildew, but that material is milling and baking very well,” says Rex Newkirk, vice-president of research and business development at the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi), as he joins us for this episode of the Wheat School. “We’re not getting much of a change of colour in the flour; the baked products look really good; the gluten strength is up, so we’re getting very nice loaf volumes; the crumb structure is very good, and so if there’s any good news in this, it’s that a #3 wheat can be used very well by most bakers around the world.”
Normally mildew is linked with a greyish-coloured flour, leading buyers to shy away from it, notes Newkirk.
“In years past when we had mildew, yes, it would affect the quality of the colour, but this year we’re not seeing it. It’s just a reality of this year, when the rain came and how long it lasted and such,” he says.
Customers buying wheat for noodle production will still have challenges using #3 CWRS wheat with mildew. Newkirk says although Cigi has made bread that fits their market, Japanese customers are still hesitant.
“For fresh noodles, they have to sit for a while before someone comes and buys them, so they’re very sensitive to colour,” he explains. “The mildew tends to make them a bit speckier, not so bright white. So I don’t think we’ll see a lot of customers coming for #3’s on that side, but on the baking side it seems to be working very well.”
Newkirk discusses the “new crop missions” currently underway, the rebound in gluten strength this year and whether mildew specs in the grading system should be changed in this Wheat School interview: