A three-minute wheat quality assessment? It's on its way in the United States where Near Infra-Red (NIR) technology is poised to play a major role in a quality-based wheat marketing system.
The system should provide buyers with objective data on the physical characteristics of wheat, its biochemical components and end-use quality traits. It will use NIR technology to measure the characteristics of 300 individual kernels of a wheat sample and report in three minutes on relevant factors like moisture percentage, kernel weight in milligrams, kernel size and kernel diameter.
Buyers of US wheat will have detailed information of the physical characteristics of the grain, and its potential dough characteristics, baking quality attributes and flour colour. NIR may also open the way for wheat varietal identification, assessment of protein and vitreousness in durum wheat and discovery of damage to grain by internal insects and sprouting.
Okkyung Kim Chung, a US Department of Agriculture cereal chemist, detailed the direction of the US developments to the recent International Cereal and Bread Congress in Queensland, which was supported by growers and the Federal Government through the GRDC.
She said the US industry had come to accept that even its premium wheat, US No. 1, might not be the best wheat for end quality for either buyers or sellers wanting to trade on intrinsic quality. That is because the current eight classes for wheat in the US were all based on test weights. Even the classification US No. 1 had nothing to do with end-use quality or functionality. Dr Chung said better definition of wheat quality was needed in the future, allowing breeding programs to target new varieties for different products, processes and cultures.
Contact: Mr Bob Cracknell 03 9209 2084 (for information on the conference)