June 19, 2013

nabim announces finalists in the search for the 2013 UK champion milling wheat grower

nabim, supported by HGCA, announced the three farmer finalists for the 2013 Milling Wheat Challenge at the Cereals Event on Wednesday June 12, 2013. Now in its fourth year, the aim of the Challenge is to find the country's best milling wheat grower.

The 2013 finalists are:
·      Stephen Craggs, East Close Farm, Sedgefield, Stockton-on-Tees
·      James Loder-Symonds, Denne Hill Farm, Womenswold, Canterbury, Kent
·      Nick & David Philp, Church Farm, Waltham St Lawrence, Reading, Berks.

Martin Savage, nabim's trade policy manager, said the standard of the entries remains very high and the judges had a tough job selecting the finalists.  "Each of these growers farm significant areas with wheat as their main crop. All three are forward-thinking, very technically competent and consistently grow quality crops of bread-making wheats."

The Challenge has become established as a formal recognition by Britain's flour millers of how the country's best growers combine attention to detail with end-customer awareness and business acumen to create a win: win for the whole wheat chain.

Savage added, “UK flour millers are committed to UK wheat and to the farmers who grow it because more than 80 percent of the wheat we mill comes from UK farmers. We work closely with plant breeders and others in the chain to ensure there is a good supply of top quality milling wheat. The Milling Wheat Challenge is very important to nabim because we want to support and encourage farmers to grow the wheat our bread-making customers require.”

“High yields are often said to be the future of wheat growing, but our overriding message to growers of any wheat for milling is that yields must be matched by quality and manufacturing functionality.  Bakers and other food manufacturers set very high specifications so it is important that all milling wheat is grown to the highest standards of both quality and food safety. "

"Growing quality wheat consistently is a difficult task which requires best practice in agronomy, storage and delivery to meet the exacting standards of the milling trade; our finalists all demonstrate very strong management in these areas. Harvest 2012 proved very difficult for both farmers and millers since low specific weights produced a range of significant issues. All parts of the grain supply chain worked hard to minimise these".

Judging of the three finalists will take place at the end of June when visits will be made to their farms. Detailed discussions will take place with the growers themselves, their crops will be walked and inspections made of any storage facilities.

The judges for 2013 are Martin Savage from nabim, Pat Thornton, HGCA arable business manager  and Mark Ireland, a Lincolnshire farmer and “Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year 2009”.

The finalists, together with leaders from the UK wheat supply chain, will be invited to a celebration dinner hosted by nabim at the Ritz Hotel in London where the winning grower will be announced.
Left to right: Ray Craggs and Stephen Craggs of East Close Farm, Sedgefield and Nick and David Philp from Church Farm in Reading. The third finalist who unfortunately was not able to attend on the day is
James Loder-Symonds of Denne Hill Farm, Kent.

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