Grading changes | New rules increase bushel weights for country’s top quality milling wheat
The Australian grain industry has increased bushel weights for top quality milling wheat — a move aimed at increasing the competitiveness of Australian grain that is sold on international markets.
Grain Trade Australia announced earlier this year that minimum test weights for Australian milling wheat will increase to 76 kilograms per hectolitre from 74 kg/hl effective Aug. 1.
A briefing document published by the GTA says “higher test weights for milling grades of wheat is being demanded by domestic and export customers of Australian wheat….”
The document also suggested that the vast majority of Australian milling wheat produced each year already exceeds the new weight standards.
But growers say the amount of wheat affected by the changes could be significant, especially if wet conditions persist during harvest.
Some Australian farm organizations say the move will cost the country’s wheat growers millions of dollars a year.
Officials from Grain Growers Ltd. likened the changes to robbery, saying the increased test weights could cost producers as much as $20 per tonne, depending on conditions.
GTA officials say tighter standards are needed to bring Australian wheat in line with milling wheat grown in other countries, including Canada and the United States.
“Australia is export reliant and we need to be able to demonstrate a superior product over our international competitors, so this is particularly important,” GTA’s chief executive officer Geoff Honey said in a news release.
“The guarantee to the trade of 76 kilograms per hectolitre … will give the trade more confidence to participate in markets where high (bushel weight) requirements exist,” added Sean Powell, wheat committee chair with the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia.
Milling wheat that falls short of the minimum weight requirements is likely to result in grade discounts.
Australia’s previous test weight of 74 kg/hl is equivalent to roughly 59.3 pounds per bushel. The new test weight converts to roughly 61 pounds per bushel. In Canada, test weights for No. 1 CWRS are 75 kg per hl or roughly 60 lb. per bu.
Canadian test weights are determined on a “cleaned grain” basis while Australian weights are determined on an “as is” or “farmer dressed” basis.