Early results for the AHDB Cereal Quality Survey show the proportion of nabim Group 1 wheat samples meeting a high specification (specific weight: 76kg/hl, protein: 13%, Hagberg falling number: 250s) at 48%, is 17 percentage points higher than at this stage last year.
Up to August 20, 10,841 samples had been analysed. Early results also highlight the variability in the crop, mostly for protein and specific weight, according to AHDB.
Protein content is slightly down on last year across the quality grades (nabim Groups 1, 2 and 3), but still above average. Across both hard and soft milling wheat samples, protein has varied from about 10% to 15%.
However, according to AHDB, variation within contracted specifications is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can allow mills to tailor their grist to customer requirements. Early anecdotal reports suggest baking quality is in line with last season.
While there were concerns about low moisture levels early in the season, mills are reportedly coping well with the challenge. Moisture content has averaged just 12.4% from the samples analysed to date, compared with 14.9% in 2017.
Meanwhile, provisional AHDB data for GB barley quality, based on 6,333 samples, shows screenings are higher this season - up to 3.2% through a 2.25mm sieve and down to 88.9% retained by 2.5mm sieve.
This compares with 2.7% and 91.1%, respectively, at this stage last year. This is likely to be a reflection of the drought, which has led to considerable variability in grain quality depending on region and soil type, according to AHDB.
Nitrogen content is marginally elevated on the provisional results from this time last year, and is above average. Nitrogen content in GB has averaged 1.70%, up from 1.69% last season. Samples from Scotland have so far averaged 1.66%, according to AHDB.
As a general rule of thumb, maltsters look for nitrogen levels below 1.65% in Scotland, with a large proportion of the suitable grain going for distilling rather than brewing, it says.
Specific weights for barley average 67.9kg/hl so far, ranging from 61.2-73.9, according to AHDB.