In the Washington Grain Commission (WGC) budget, you’ll find a $68,175 line item for something called the G & E study, which stands for Genotype and Environment. The funding, which goes to the Western Wheat Quality Lab in Pullman is for analysis and evaluation of the quality of Pacific Northwest wheat varieties grown in different environments. The release of the information in the Preferred Variety Brochure (PVB) is the last step in that process.

The first PVB was published in 2003, but before that, six years were spent on establishing what to measure and how much weight to put on each component. Data is based on an average of three crop years and the overall quality score is determined by an array of factors, each assigned a level of importance.

Six key components of grain, such as test weight and protein are assigned a value of 10 percent. Milling attributes are assigned a value of 30 percent. Baking properties are the heavy hitter with 60 percent of a variety or line’s quality score. That’s because while milling properties are important, they can be altered by changing the mill flow or adding more equipment. Poor baking properties, however, are largely unfixable.

The new PVB designation, which is abbreviated as “UCS” means, “Unacceptable Except for Customer-Specific Uses”. The definition of the term includes wheat varieties with “one or more critical flaws in quality” that “will not make “suitable product for this class of wheat”. There are times, however, milling companies’ desire specific characteristics found in a particular variety which is why the next line states: “Production of these varieties should be targeted to specific end-uses and kept strictly segregated from general commercial channels.”