Cereal Quality Survey

The Cereal Quality Survey is an annual survey looking at the key parameters of wheat and barley quality for the most recent harvest.


  • The final set of Cereal Quality Survey results for harvest 2021 are now available. For the full tables of results use the download link located at the side of this page. For an explanation of the results and for the wheat quality diagrams, make sure to expand the sections below.

Final quality results from harvest 2021, capturing data to 26 October, show milling wheat samples continue to display low specific weights.

The average specific weight of UK flour millers Group 1 varieties remains at 75.4kg/hl, the lowest since 2012 (70.7kg/hl). This sits below the milling specification of greater than or equal to 76.0kg/hl. These results are down 5 percentage points (pp) (4.0kg/hl) from 2020, and 4pp (3.1kg/hl) from the 3-year average (2018-2020).

Looking at other quality measures of group 1 wheats, Hagberg Falling Number remained at 286 seconds (s). This is 36s below 2020 results and 33s below the 3-year average. This is the lowest value since 2017. There is a clear difference between central (309s) and southern samples (263s) in Hagberg numbers, though this may be down to varietal breakdown within the regions.

For protein content, final figures show group 1 samples are averaging 13.2%. This is up 2.6pp (0.3%) from last year and above the 3-year average by 3.7pp (0.5%). Perhaps not surprising with specific weights down.

Overall, results show that 20% of group 1 samples are meeting a typical group 1 specification (specific weight≥76kg/hl, protein≥13.0%, HFN≥250s). This is down 3pp from provisional 2021 results and down 12pp from 2020.

Cereal Quality Survey diagram


This year’s wheat sample is down year-on-year from final 2020 results. We have been hearing sampling has been difficult this year, due to labour availability. The barley sample size if relatively consistent year-on-year.

Additional specification results.

Figure 2 Diagram 23 11 2021

Using data up to the 25 October, results show average GB nitrogen content is 1.49%. This is the lowest GB value in AHDB’s historic data, back to 1977. The closest comparative year is 2015, at 1.52%. Though to note, a higher volume of Scottish samples has been included in the survey this year compared to last year. Scottish nitrogen content remains comparatively lower than English values due to requirements from distilling markets in Scotland.

Final winter barley averages remained at 1.57%, the same as earlier results. Though we did see an increase to spring barley nitrogen, up 0.03% from initial results to 1.48%.

Lower nitrogen content is an area to watch for brewers, maltsters, and distillers (BMD). The latest  BMD usage data released yesterday, showed barley usage year-to-date (Jul-Sept) was down 5pp compared to the pre-covid 3-year average (2017/18-2019/20).

Specific weights are down versus initial results, and lower year-on-year, for both winter barley (at 64.8kg/hl) and spring barley (at 63.0kg/hl).

The proportion of barley retained by a 2.5mm sieve, compared to initial 2021 results, increased clearly for winter barley (up 2.5% to 87.8%) and marginally for spring barley (up 0.1% to 95.4%). Yet, winter results remain down 7pp year-on-year. Spring results are in line with last harvest.

Interesting to note, sales of barley and screenings for 2021/22 season-to-date (Jul-Sept) are down by 6pp compared to the pre-covid 3-year average for the same period (2017/18-2019/20).

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