Thirty bag crop or pastry to die for?

When the header coughs to life and you look out across the paddock, what do you see? Are you looking at the best wheat crop in the district or a plate of noodles in the making? If it's the best wheat crop in the district, chances are it won't be forever. The best growers see themselves as a link in the chain that extends all the way to the bread in a school lunch, the top noodle bar in Tokyo and the pastry to die for in Double Bay.

BRI Australia, the organisation responsible for much of the quality testing behind each new variety, is offering a series of short courses to demystify the business of milling and baking. The aim is to get behind the truckload of wheat you're so proud of.

The course runs for a day in the major wheat-growing areas. It starts with the why behind the weighbridge tests and ends on the bench kneading the dough and making the noodles.

Australian growers are encouraged to learn about quality and more importantly how to maintain the quality behind their wheat deliveries. This course explains why that philosophy is likely to keep the miller coming back for more.

You get a chance to see why flour ain't flour to a baker, pastrycook or noodle maker and to experience your wheat in more exotic guises, such as steamed buns and flat bread.

Chances are you'll come away understanding why quality for some comes all the way down to a particular variety.

Mike Southan, who runs the courses, says that initially most of the interest is focused on the reasons behind the receival tests. "After all it's the sharp end of the business," he says. "Black point has been a bone of contention recently. Growers want to know what impact it has on flour quality. In the workshops they see what it does to noodle sheets and understand why the Japanese are very sensitive about it. On the other hand, they see that it may make very little difference to bread flour quality, so the domestic buyer is happy to take it, at a price." BRI is currently investigating the effect of black point on end-product quality in another GRDC-supported project.

"Most of the contracts that growers hold will be with domestic customers and our aim is to give them an understanding of what their customer wants. That way, growers can manage their options to get the best possible return."

Dr Southan says that he's happy to take the courses "almost anywhere". The courses, supported by growers and the Federal Government through the GRDC, are confined to organised grower groups of 12 to 20 participants.

Program 4.1.3

Contact: Dr Michael Southan 02 9888 9600; fax 02 9888 5821 email m.southan@bri.com.au