Wheat Quality Update: Ukraine

This year Ukraine has more quantity wheat of milling quality and with proper storage conditions and wise preparation of export parcels; it can compete well with wheat of other origins. As to feed wheat, the situation could be characterized in the same way as for milling wheat, with a bit lower test weight results and quite high percentage of bug-ridden grains, that probably caused the change of this wheat category from “Milling” to “Feed”, despite quite high protein content.

Arina Korchmaryova
Vice President
Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas Business Group
Cotecna Inspection

Currently, there are many deliberations regarding wheat quality in Ukraine. In general, quality of wheat of 2019 in Ukraine is better than in previous years. As per various analytical opinions, percentage of milling vs feed wheat is expected to be about 10% higher than in 2018.
For the assessment of phytosanitary condition of wheat, we conducted phytosanitary monitoring of fields of winter wheat in 16 regions of Ukraine, representing the agro-climatic zones of the northern, southern, eastern and western parts of the country before the harvest. Visual examination of fields and results of laboratory tests performed on collected samples by means of entomological, mycological, phytohelminthological, virological and herbological expertises allow us to assess the phytosanitary state of wheat harvest as satisfactory.

Entomological examination revealed the presence of typical for Ukraine species in usual amounts without exceeding the threshold of harmfulness. As to fungal nature agents, the most common for all regions are Alternaria alternata Fr. and Cladosporium herbarum (Pers) Link. Herbological assessment of the fields revealed usual species of wild plants associated wheat weeds. The most common are: Convolvulus arvensis L., Polygonum convolvulus L., Setaria glauca L.P.B., Delphinium consolida L., Aegilops cylindrica Host.

Below information is targeted to give some insights on milling wheat characteristics of new crop 2019 in comparison with the crop of 2018 year.

At the beginning of this season, we see average test weight a bit lower than in the previous season and a higher quantity of shriveled grains that could be caused by high temperatures and scarcity of rainfalls during ripening period especially in south regions of Ukraine. This situation is expected to improve towards the middle of the season due to the grains coming from north regions of Ukraine.

It is worth to mention higher quantity of bug-ridden grains. We assume that such situation could also be caused by weather conditions as at the beginning of summer there was a strong heat in Ukraine without precipitation with temperatures up to 35° C and higher. Such climate condition provoked reproduction and increased activity of insect pests. In combination with usage of some seeding material not resistant to Eurygaster`s, we see the increased quantity of insect damaged wheat, including bug-ridden grains.

Regarding baking qualities of milling wheat, we expect to see a broader variance (in between Min. and Max.) in terms of W in comparison to the previous season.

Currently, we see some particular parcels of wheat with quite good protein content and other quality parameters at decent level, but with very low W (around 100). Still, bug-ridden grains may be below 2% on these parcels.

We assume, the situation is caused by the combination of several factors, two of them already been mentioned above. First, quality of protein is quite sensitive to the influence of weather conditions (i.e. high temperature and lack of humidity) that provoke the disruption of bonds between molecules of the proteins. With high level of protein and gluten content, the quality of gluten is poor and dough is weak.

Among other influencing factors are increased quantity of insects (incl. Eurygaster) together with the usage of seeding material not resistant to Eurygaster`s ferments and poor quality of the soil due to the lack of proper fertilizer application schemes (to save money due to difficult financial conditions).

At the same time, during post-harvesting period of about three months, under condition of environment temperature decrease and proper storage conditions, it cannot be excluded that bonds between molecules of the protein may strengthen, that could result in higher W findings.

We will test few samples of wheat with low W (representing the very beginning of the season) in one-month period in order to check if W parameter became higher or left at the same level.

Below you can find our statistical data of rheological parameters for exported parcels of new crop Milling Wheat as of August 5, 2019:

As can be seen from the above, the average figure for W is within acceptable range, yet lower than in the previous season. However, Min figure for W is a bit worrying for wheat with protein above 11.5%.

Overall, this year Ukraine has more quantity wheat of milling quality and with proper storage conditions and wise preparation of export parcels; it can compete well with wheat of other origins.

As to feed wheat, the situation could be characterized in the same way as for milling wheat, with a bit lower test weight results and quite high percentage of bug-ridden grains, that probably caused the change of this wheat category from “Milling” to “Feed”, despite quite high protein content. At this, it cannot be excluded that such situation may create the potential risk in case of mixing of different wheat parcels of “Milling” and “Feed” grade during preparation of export parcels, as high amount of bug-ridden grains may affect the quality of the whole parcel.

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