KWS Wheat has launched two new wheat varieties that offer high yields of grain suitable for biscuit and cake flours.

The Basset and Barrel varieties are both short, stiff wheats with good resistance to diseases including yellow rust. The company said that, so far, Barrel had performed especially well in the north of the UK while Basset had proven particularly strong in the east.

The varieties aim to reverse the decline of the amount of Group 3 biscuit-grade wheat planted, which in recent years has been abandoned by many farmers in favour higher yielding wheats designed for animal consumption. KWS said the new ‘Dynamic Wheats’ close this deficit, with Barrel matching the yield of Group 4 feed wheat Reflection on a UK basis and both Barrel and Basset matching Reflection in the east.

Kirsty Richards, value chain manager at KWS, said: “Farmers are appreciating that high yields can be delivered by these high quality wheats.”

"Critical to what we do"

Richard Plant, category manager (agriculture) at United Biscuits, also spoke at the launch and highlighted the importance of Group 3 wheats to the biscuit industry, saying: “Group 3 wheats are critical to what we do.”

Wheat groupings are defined by the National Association of British and Irish Millers (NABIM). Group 3 wheats are defined by soft milling characteristics, low protein content, good extraction rates and an extensible but not elastic gluten. This makes them ideal for biscuit and cake production as too high a protein content results in a chewy biscuit which shrinks during baking, and extensibility rate determines whether the biscuits can be produced to a consistent shape.