1.Is there a connection between soil characteristics and the quality of wheat?
Wheat needs good soils that ensure an adequate supply of nitrogen to the plant. Soil quality can be improved with suitable fertilizers and by the right choice of the preceding crop.
2. How do the weather and fertilization affect the properties of gluten?
Nitrogen fertilization and cool weather increase the amount of the softening gluten component gliadin. In warm, dry conditions more glutenin is stored, and this results in short and dry dough properties.
3. What are the principles for storing freshly harvested wheat?
At least the worst of the dirt and black dockage should be removed before the wheat grains are put into storage. The moisture content should also be measured so that excess water can be reduced by drying or regular turning over with the pneumatic system to prevent the growth of micro-organisms and other pests. The moisture content should be adjusted reliably to a level below 14%; then the wheat can be stored for some long time without loss of quality.
4. Which countries are the largest exporters of wheat?
In 2003-2004 the USA exported the largest quantity of wheat (31% of world wheat exports), followed by Canada (16%), Australia (15%), Argentina (8%) and the UE (7%).
5. Which countries import the largest quantities of wheat?
Egypt and Brazil with 6 million tons, closely followed by South Korea (4 mio t) and the Plippines (3 mio t)
6. What percentage of world wheat production is used for food?
Of the annual production of about 600 mio t, almost 10% is lost through rodents, insects and impoper storage conditions. About 15% is used to feed livestock, mostly in the EU, where 40% is used for feed. A small amount, about 5%, is used for technical applications, in particular secondary wheat products for the (bio)chemical industry such as starch and gluten hydrolysis products. A fast-growing non-food application of wheat (and other crops) is biofuel production. These figures leave about 70% or 400 mio t for food use.
7. Will there be an adequate supply of wheat in the future?
Although the wheat stocks seem to be falling slightly, there will probably be sufficient wheat at least in the next 2 or 3 decades because of the recovery of production areas in Eastern Europe and improved agriculture in China and India. By the end of this period, improved productivity of the wheat plant resulting from genetic modification may ensure a stable supply for a growing number of consumers.
8. Will China become a major wheat exporter in the near future?
Although the wheat imports dropped sharply from almost 12 mio t in 1995 to 400 thousand t in 2003, imports have recently risen again because of rapidly increasing demand. The consumption of wheat products increases as the average income rises. The trend is supported by the still slowly growing population. So it is rather unlikely that China will soon become a wheat exporting nation like EU, for example.
9. When does the new wheat sesason of the major wheat exporting countries start?
Even within one wheat-exporting nation there are broad harvesting seasons, with Argentina probably showing the sharpest division between the old and the new harvest; this is due to the comparatively small wheat planting zone. Furthermore, the winter wheat harvest usually starts and ends approx.. 6 weeks earlier than the harvest of spring wheat.
10. How does fertilization affect gluten properties?
Nitrogen fertilizers increase the overall protein of a variety, but the general properties are not changed: a normal gluten remains normal, with higher energy levels in the Alveogram and Extensogram; a soft gluten becomes even softer. The latter is due to an increase in gliadin, the soft component of gluten.
11. Can the resistance of wheat towards disease significantly be reduced by conventional breeding, or only by genetic modification?
Breeding for resistance has always been a major target of the breeders, but the achieved results certainly can be improved, either by further breeding or by genetic modification through methods of modern biotechnology.