Leading British miller, Allied Mills is pioneering a special market for the UK’s top quality bread wheat, Paragon, aiming to source substantially increased quantities of the named spring variety for a range of premium quality, maximum traceability grist’s from 2010.
As part of this initiative, it is offering attractive buyback contracts for next harvest, paying a guaranteed £10/tonne over the benchmark Group 1 price for delivery to its Tilbury and Manchester mills. At current market levels, this represents a valuable premium the right side of £50/tonne over feed wheat prices.
“Over the past few years we’ve found Paragon well-suited to our top quality grist’s,” explains Allied head of procurement, Howard Leland. “It’s as good a baker as Hereward, if not better in many cases. And as a spring wheat it has a particularly consistent quality and favourable environmental profile.
“So we see the variety as the ideal focus for developing our growing business with leading customers seeking to combine top quality with the greatest flour to field traceability.
“In addition to a marked increase in annual supplies, we’re looking for a supply chain that offers us complete traceability from breeders’ seed through to quality grain supported by full production records,” he points out. “We’d also like to develop flagship farms in different parts of the country to work with us in increasing consumer understanding of the value of quality, British food.
“We see the 2010 contracts as the start of a long-term marketing relationship that will stand ourselves and a growing band of dedicated Paragon growers in good stead for many years to come. That’s why we’re providing one of the most attractive grower schemes we’ve ever offered as a basis on which to build for the future.”
Andrew Bourne of Kent-based T. Denne & Sons, who are offering the Allied contract in conjunction with Grain Harvesters across the South East, sees this new opportunity as particularly timely given the number of growers currently looking to adjust their rotations in the light of problems with both OSR and grass weeds; especially where spring barley is not an ideal cereal option.
While some may consider traditional spring-sown Paragon a little light in the yield department, he insists the variety scheme stacks-up very well for late-autumn sowing.
“Not as high as its spring-sown 13.9% rating maybe, but the latest RL shows Paragon delivering an average protein comfortably above 13% from the late-autumn slot,“ he notes. “It’s second only to Hereward in this respect, and it produces similarly excellent specific weights. Add a reliable Hagberg and you’ve got the best of all possible worlds in Group 1 specification delivery.
“What’s more, late-autumn sown Paragon yields at a five-year Recommended List average of 8.6 t/ha. And it’s a well-established variety with a markedly superior disease resistance that gives it an important fungicide management advantage.
“All-in-all, a guaranteed £10/tonne premium over Group 1s for this sort of yield potential and very much greater likelihood of meeting the milling spec looks like an excellent opportunity for those drilling wheat in a late autumn slot, after roots or as a second wheat,” suggests Andrew Bourne. “It also looks a good prospect for anyone who wants to spread their autumn drilling workloads or give themselves the best chance of getting on top of troublesome grass weed populations with one or more rounds of pre-planting Roundup.
“Equally, of course, growers on stronger land taking advantage of the over-wintered stubble option under ELS are likely to find contract-grown Paragon an attractive alternative to many other spring crops, especially as spring barley gross margins remain under pressure.
“Overall, we see a definite value in the new buyback for our customers,” he concludes. “Both for its immediate returns and for the opportunity it provides to get into a long-term marketing relationship with one of the country’s foremost millers at the ground floor.”
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