Every new harvesting campaign is characterized not only in terms of the produced volumes, but also in the development dynamics and the quality issues. For its part, the quality of grains depends mostly on the weather factor that lately is becoming even more considerable. In 2018, the weather severely affected the harvesting campaign of grains in Russia, and it is well-known fact. APK-Inform Agency asked the customer service and technical supervision manager of the agriculture department of SGS Vostok Limited (SGS Group), Irina Sarycheva how the weather affected the quality of grains.
— Irina, in the beginning of our conversation can You give us the general estimation of the Russian grain of the harvest-2018 compared with last year?
For now, it is obvious that the volume of grain collected is lower from the last one but it is definitely not indifferent. Traditionally, since the start of the harvesting campaign the most profound question was the quality of grain and we received many questions from the market operators that planned the strategy for the new market season.
It should be noted that it is hardly possible to identify the general trends typical for the whole crop as well as it was last year. The quality characteristics and their correlations differ greatly from region to region. That is why traditionally I offer to discuss the quality in terms of regions.
— Good, then traditionally let’s start with the south of Russia.
Here the decisive impact on the quality of the current crop was made by the weather conditions during the cultivation period. The absence of sufficient precipitation in the soil usually did not afford the plants to adopt fertilizers applied. Therefore, there is some decrease of the protein content compared with 2017.
The most of the soft wheat have the high level of protein that is equivalent to 10.5-12.5% of the dry mix.
Herewith, the notable volumes of grain had the higher ratio of gluten to protein that effected the results of the “Glutomatic” (the ISO 21415-2).
We should also note the decrease of the share of high-protein wheat and the acceleration of the share of wheat with the protein content not less than 12% compared to last year.
The forecasts of the significant decline of the specific weight of kernels have not materialized, as the soil precipitation was sufficient to form the well-filled grain. The specific weight of the majority of the grain consignments totaled 78 kl/gl.
The grain delivered from fields was dry. Moreover, most of the consignments had the moisture at the range of 9.5-11.5%.
The rheological properties of soft wheat in the Southern region meet the requirements of the baking industry. The figures of the most of the consignments vary at 170-250 J10-4.
Speaking about the milling specifications, we should pay attention to the increase of the p/l figure (dough resilience and extensibility ratio) and thus guarantee its level with caution when contracting.
The falling-number does not give cause for concern and it is estimated at the range of 270-420 s.
In addition, there was some decline of the kernels damaged byt fusarium that usually was estimated at 0.1%.
But the unpleasant thing of this season was the increase of the smut activity. The damaged grain consignments with the pronounced flavor and absolutely invalid for export have been identified in Rostov oblast.
— Next in terms of grain production importance is the Volga and Ural region.
The quality of grain in this region depends on the harvest timing that is usually divided into two periods: the harvest before and after the rains that are usually performed during the second and third decades of July.
This year the weather has greatly influenced the falling-number of grain. The results show that the grain harvested after the rains in the Volga region started to sprout actively owing to the high precipitation and heat level. Together with the consignments that are characterized by the zero sprouted kernels rate and 220-430 falling-number there are some consignments with sprouted kernels rate varying from 5% to 40% and more in some case. That is why it is obvious why the general number in the region declined. Nevertheless, with the proper control the consignments deliveries meeting the global standards are possible which is proven by the practices of the consignments shipped this season.
While estimating the protein level, it is seen that the region has specified volumes of high protein grain with the protein reaching 16%. In terms of the favourable weather conditions, the formation of the organic grain complex was successful and the average level in the region is moving in the upward trend.
The special attention in terms of operations with grain of this region should be paid to the control of the grains damaged by herbivore bugs. Unfortunately, we can see that the content of such grain in the region varies from 0% to 6-7%. That is why there should be scrutinized control not only of the damaged grains quantity but also of the quality of the gluten according to GOST, as mixing of the damaged by the bug grain severely decrease the quality of the milling grain.
Estimating the gluten level this season we would recommend first of all to align with the GOST method or ISO 21415-1.
It should also be noted the downward trend of the natural weight of grain in the Ural region and Orenburg oblast. The average number here varies within the range of 75-76 kg/hl, and these numbers should be taken into account, while forming the consignments for exports.
— Going further, I would propose to get a view of the Central region.
As last year the heavy rains made a significant impact on the quality of the current crop in the region. A major damage occurred in Kursk, Belgorod and Voronezh oblasts. The falling-number there varies at the range of 60-400 s, herewith usually it is less than 180 s.
Also, there is a notable growth of the consignments with increased concentration of filth kernels.
In the region, there is a predictable decline of the general level of protein, gluten and the correlative changes of the rheological properties of wheat, e.g. the W number.
The majority of the grain consignments are of 4-grade.
In most cases, the specific weight of grain in the total volumes of kernels analyzed amounts to 72-76 kg/hl.
Nevertheless, there are available consignments in the region, but the quality parameters of grain must be strictly controlled in order to be transported to the sea ports.
— And in conclusion, let’s talk about the most problematic in terms of harvest region of this season – the Siberia.
We still have not been able to make the final estimations of the quality of grains in this region but we can already speak about the increase of moisture level, some decline of specific weight and falling-number. In addition, we should note the increase of the average protein level in the analyzed samples.
— Still, in view of the foregoing I would like to go back to the first question of our conversation. Are there some general trends that characterize the quality of Russian grain crop in 2018?
In summarizing the general, some trends can be discerned. At first, I would name the decline of the general protein level in the Southern and Volga-Ural regions. As in the previous year, the deficit of high protein level is obvious. Nevertheless, the southern grain is distinguished by good specific weigh and improvement of the baking quality, which is important for the consumers proven by the last year deliveries.
The rains in the Volga-Ural and Central regions significantly affected the level of the amylase activity and as a result the market is interested in supply of the pure feed grains which cannot be used while preparing the consignments of milling wheat due to the extremely low falling-number.
Also it is necessary to pay attention to the gluten level and dough rheology in operations with the grain in these regions instead of taking into account the level of protein only.
— In conclusion of our conversation, would You kindly share Your expectations for 2018/19 MY, which is approaching its high point?
The year is going to be tough, but interesting. Of course, there are going to be both wins and falls but it all depends mostly on ourselves.
The opening markets and high interest in Russian wheat show that understanding the problems we can jointly complete the tasks and fulfill the export potential of the country to its maximum.
Interviewed by Alexander Pryadko, APK-Inform Agency