Looking forward to visiting Space 2018, Rennes

Next week I will be embarking on my first major conference for Perendale Publishers – Space 2018

It features over 1,440 exhibitors from across the globe and I am really looking forward to getting stuck in and finding out more about this wonderful industry called milling. The destination is Rennes in France which sounds quite romantic although I am sure it will be more technical than romantic.

I have contacted the organisers to get my press accreditation and have booked in to a welcome meal for all international journalist. The animal competitions appear to be quite exciting with over 700 animals competing in a variety of areas as they vie for top spot.

On Tuesday for the first time at SPACE, the Parthenais breed will organise its national competition at the Expo. Only the 80 best animals in the breed will be competing.

Five other beef breeds will enter the inter-regional competition in the afternoon.

The Roussin sheep breed will also be in the spotlight with its national competition organised from 2pm. I love watching the animal classes at these shows – it reminds me of my time covering agricultural shows for the Western Daily Press and climbing into the parade ring to get a good shot of the Best in Show bull.

More than the animals I want to learn more about animal feed and all the associated industries. How feed can make such a difference to the health of the animal. I am hoping to see extruding machines and learning all about extrusion.

As well of course sampling some fine French cuisine while there.

Ergot – the real reason behind Halloween

As Halloween approaches and all things and witches take to the skies could the root of this myth be found in Rye bread? In Europe, during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, bread was usually made with rye grain, which, under the right conditions can become a host for ergot, a fungus that grows on rye in damp weather. When consumed in high doses, ergot can be deadly but in smaller doses, it acts as a potent hallucinogen.

Nowadays ergot is routinely removed from grain during the milling process and the standards of keeping rye grain have improved immeasurably so that contamination through water happens less and less.

The most common form of ergot is Claviceps pupurea – the rye ergot fungus – which grows on rye and related plant producing alkaloids which can cause ergotism in humans and other mammals who consume grains contaminated with its fruiting structure (called ergot sclerotium).

Records throughout history from the 14thto the 17thcentury mention an affliction with “dancing mania” where groups of people would dance through the streets often speaking gibberish and foaming from the mouth until they collapsed from sheer exhaustion. Often those afflicted with this mania would later describe the apparently wild and wonderful visions that accompanied it.

In time resourceful types figured out how to use ergot for hallucinatory, see-the-pretty-colours purposes. One of the downsides to taking ergot orally is the nausea and vomiting and so the resourceful types figured out the best way to consume ergot was through the skin. Makeshift pharmacists developed salves which could be rubbed into the sweat glands in armpits and the mucus membranes of the genitals.

They would put the salve onto broomstick handles which is perhaps where the famous witches broomstick came from.

However the chances of getting ergot poisoning from rye bread are almost impossible now.

Drought crimps wheat and canola output in Canada

Wheat and canola output is expected to be crimped by a drought which singed parts of Canada’s prairie, Bloomberg reports.

Statistics Canada said in a report on Friday wheat output this year will decline 3.3 per cent to 29 million metric tons from 2017 as average yields drop more than 11 per cent. That is the smallest crop in three years.

The average estimate of analysts in a Bloomberg survey was 30.4 million. Canola production will tumble 10 per cent to 19.2 million tons (analysts expected 20.7 million), the lowest since 2015.

The government said parts of Canada suffered from lower-than-average precipitation and high temperatures, eroding yields.

Since July, wheat yields in some parts of the prairies, including Manitoba, have been better than expected and may be revised upward in the final report later this year, said Brian Voth, president of Intelli Farm Inc.

The sentiment still may remain bullish amid adverse weather in Europe and the Black Sea region, he said                                                              .

“We are taking a little bit of caution with some of these numbers because of the time when the estimates were done,” Voth said. “When these estimates were done back in July, there was a lot of pessimism about what yields might actually be.”

An August heat wave scorched parts of the southern Prairies hit by drought earlier in the season. Parts of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan got less than 60 per cent of average rain for a large part of the growing season, government data showed.

The crop estimates are “a shock to the trade,” Jerry Klassen, a manager of Canadian operations and trading at Gap SA Grains & Produits in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said. “This is a very bullish report for Canadian grains.”

The industry will be “seriously monitoring yields” as the harvest progresses, Klassen said. While the government estimates are based on a survey of farmers in July and may be revised upward, forecasts were so far below expectations that prices for spring wheat, durum and canola probably will rise, he said.

Spring-wheat futures in Minneapolis may rise as high as $7 a bushel, and canola futures might gain as much as $40 ($26.35) a ton in the coming months amid tighter supplies, Klassen said.

On the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, futures for December delivery rose 1.6 per cent to $5.9325 after reaching $6.02, the contract’s highest since Aug. 23. Canola futures climbed 0.4 per cent to C$496.80 on ICE Futures U.S. after reaching C$499.50, the highest since Aug. 23.

Carr’s Mill visit

Visiting Carr’s Flour Mill in Maldon gave me a real insight into the life of a working mill. The impressive mill was founded in 1836 by Jonathan Dodgson Carr who built it on the principles of quality, innovation and understanding the needs of customers. The mill still retains those core values and has been completely transformed into a truly 21stcentury operation.

The mill was built in 1896 for Samuel Garrett. It later belonged to William Green and Sons, then Green Bros, and subsequently Carr’s. Along with the other Carr’s mills it was sold to Whitworth’s in 2016.

Together with Carr’s other mills at Silloth and Kirkcaldy it processes 300,000 tonnes of wheat a year. Inside the mill, state of the art modern milling equipment takes centre stage – from the enormous sifters to the Buhler roller milling machines. It tests protein levels and sifts out any foreign matter in the wheat including metal and mycotoxins.

Carr’s opened up its mills to a group of around 30 people for a special open day. The group included farmers from the Dengie region of Essex and bakers from across the UK. Wilfrid Dorrington, of Dorringtons Bakery in Sawbridgeworth along with Chris Hughes, Dorringtons general manager and Sam Robinson of the Good Things Brewing Co joined the group.

The Good Things Brewing Co has discovered a way of dehydrating its spent grain for the baking industry. They produce so called super flour which is gaining traction in the wheat market for its quality. It is a truly ethical company reusing and recycling whatever it can in the process of making top quality artisan beer.

Sam Robinson was at Carr’s to find out what he could about the milling process. He was fascinated to learn about how Carr’s deals with its waste products.

It was quite an eclectic group of people – many had been buying flour from Carr’s for many years. We toured the distribution function of the mill – watching the massive lorries load up with either bulk flour or bags of flour – from wholemeal to special artisan flour for the smaller bakeries.

The amount of flour they produce is simply amazing as well as animal feed which is sifted out from the wheat at an early stage of the milling process. The outer layer of the wheat is removed ready for moulding into animal pellets.

The bran husks are all removed and separated from the endosperm before going on to be sifted in huge sifting machines which rumble along 24 hours a day seven days a week.

The mill never stops and it is down to the logistics team to always be on hand to pick up either a bulk load of flour or pallets of ready packeted flour. Huge pallets of the packeted flour sit waiting to be transported to the waiting bakeries in a fleet of lorries.

Before being shipped out to the customers the wheat is tested again and again to ensure its quality is top notch. Each load of wheat is tested before it enters the milling process with sophisticated machines which test the protein levels of each load to ensure it is correct for flour. They receive wheat from across the globe at Carr’s. As well as wheat from the Dengie farming community in Essex, it collects wheat from Canada and France and Germany to mill.

A recent addition to the milling operations at Carr’s is chapati flour. The team at Carr’s sourced original milling equipment from India. It had to be cleaned up prior to use in the mill and now turns out top quality chapati flour.

Canadian flour is milled, providing a strong flour for baking which is needed in some mixes of flour. They don’t add any enzymes during the milling process to ensure the flour they produce is clean and natural.

Carr’s have to deal with the constantly moving wheat markets and have a special wheat buyer Struan Cessford who says this year has been relatively good in the UK. The dry weather has created a hard grain which is lower in protein levels and needs more conditioning – soaking in water.

“We source only the best wheat from home and abroad, and we have invested heavily in the latest milling technology.,” says the company’s website.

“Our flours are created with attention to detail, supplying everyone from home and independent bakers to retail multiples and major food retailers.

“And in an often volatile wheat market, our people work closely with our customers to minimise the impact of unexpected price spikes.”

Knowing customer needs to is integral to the philosophy at Carr’s. They know the market and adapt to whatever the market needs.

It is this attention to detail which singles out Carr’s as a top quality mill and it is the attention to its staff which makes it a special place to work.



Carr’s Mill – a family feel

Walking into Carr’s Mill in Station Road, Maldon, I didn’t know quite what to expect – a pretty big industrial set up with lots of machinery in a large mill which had been there since 1896.

What I didn’t expect was the sheer number of workers who had been there for years and years. From the maintenance man who had come to do a small paint job 12 years and simply stayed ago to the millers who have been there for 30 years. Carr’s is obviously doing something right.

The sense of pride in the company and what it stands for is clear. We were joined by a number of farmers from the Dengie peninsular and bakers from across the UK who use Carr’s products. There were family run bakers like Dorringtons who have been baking from their Sawbridgeworth bakery since 1909, to new firms like the Good Things Brewing Co. who were there to see what they could learn for their burgeoning grain to flour business.

This is key to the success of Carr’s – a unique bond between flour mill and bakery which thrives on excellent product and because Carr’s knows what the customer wants and needs.

Touring the factory floor was pretty loud and very technical – I struggled to hear the tour guide – Matthew Chick but got a good grasp of the milling process. The Buhler machines and sifters were going at full tilt and the loading off of grain and then back in as flour was incredible. What struck me was the lack of mess – you would have expected the entire mill floor to be caked in flour but it was spotless and the air wasn’t filled with flour.

Once the mill tour was over we were transported to a waiting Thames Barge called the Hydrogen for a buffet and quick sail up the Blackwater river. I met some fascinating people on the barge including representatives from small bakeries to large scale operations which take tonnes of flour every week to supply the big supermarkets with baked products.

I will be writing up the feature in more detail in the coming weeks but would like to thanks Carr’s for their hospitality yesterday.



Excited for my first visit to a flour mill – Carrs in Maldon

Tomorrow (Thursday) I will be getting into the car and heading off down the M25 to visit Carrs flour mill in Maldon. I love seeing factory buildings in operation and cannot wait to see what Carrs has to offer.Carrs has an enviable history when it comes to wheat – founder Jonathan Dodgson Carr was a leading campaigner against the Corn Laws and the company has since evolved in a totally 21st century operation.

I cannot wait to see a flour mill in operation for the first time – hopefully this will be the first of many such visits and I am looking forward to seeing their innovations firsthand. They promise to work hard to get the best for their consumers despite the fractious nature of wheat markets.

I am also hoping to pick up some nice sea salt!

U.S. welcomes Mexico agreement over free trade

The U.S. Grains Council has agreed to work with Mexico on keeping North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) modernization efforts moving.

U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight said: “We are grateful for news today that the United States and Mexico have reached an agreement that will keep NAFTA modernization efforts moving. This agreement is a major step forward for our relationship with Mexico and is a result of hard work over the last year to closely examine our vital partnership.

“Mexico is extremely important to every sector we represent. Yet, so too is Canada, our second largest ethanol market and a top ten corn market. We hope the agreement today opens the door for Canada’s reengagement, and we continue to oppose withdrawal from the existing NAFTA under any circumstances except the adoption of a new, beneficial and trilateral pact.

“We look forward to analyzing the provisions the United States and Mexico announced today and continued work toward the goal of an improved trilateral agreement.”

The American Feed Industry Association also welcomed the news.

AFIA’s Director of International Policy and Trade Gina Tumbarello said: “For more than 20 years, the US animal food manufacturing industry has reaped the benefits of trading animal food, feed ingredients and pet food across its northern and southern borders.

“The North American Free Trade Agreement has not only supported thousands of jobs within the feed and associated industries, it has grown the animal food and feed ingredient export markets in Mexico and Canada to the United Stateslargest and second largest, respectively, today.

“We are encouraged to see the progress US and Mexican trade officials made over several months in resolving their differences and modernising the agreement, and hope that Canada will quickly follow suit so that industries in all three countries can continue to benefit from the largest free trade zone in the world.”

Japan looks to US for heart healthy barley

Japan is becoming increasingly keen on U.S. food barley varieties containing high levels of the dietary fibre beta-glucen.

The U.S. Grain Council (USGC) reports on a visit to North Dakota and Idaho this month by a Japanese delegation to discuss the future growth potential in the niche market.

Scientific research has revealed varieties of US barley have heart healthy properties. They reduce cholesterol, reduce the glycemic index and lower the risk of heart disease.

This makes US barley attractive to Japanese food producers who use it to make cereal products and snack bars.

A team of Japanese food barley end-users including officials from Japanese companies and local bakery and confectionary makers likely to utilize beta-glucan barley in their products were among the delegation.

They talked with U.S. barley producers and processors who are planning to expand production and other new market players expressing an interest in Japanese markets.

The USGC reports: “This trade team saw the willingness of producers and processors to provide high beta-glucan barley,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan, who accompanied the team. “The team met more market players in food barley than in previous trips and they are more serious about food barley market growth in Japan, indicating the potential to achieve a 100,000 metric ton (4.59 million bushels) market.”
Japanese barley trade with the United States has transformed substantially over time. Japan has not imported barley for feed from the United States for the last three years due to shifts in the U.S. barley industry from open market trade to contract barley production, particularly for malting barley.
However, U.S. barley growers now have a dominant supplier role for high beta-glucan food barley, thanks to a decade of work by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), the U.S. barley industry and Japanese partner organizations.

The Council has partnered with Zenbakruen (All Japan Barley Industry Association), the Council of Japan Barley Foods Promotion and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to promote the heart health benefits of barley with food snack companies and industry associations through educational seminars, trade teams and reverse missions. Based on these continued efforts, the industry now also independently promotes these products in the Japanese market through cooking programs and demonstrations, food shows and other market promotions.
Trade teams like the one in August are an important part of this market development work, says the USGC.

Team members visited barley food processors, research facilities and seed breeders to obtain information on newly developed food barley (mainly beta-glucan barley) varieties and those under development. Additional meetings with producers and shippers were also optimistic about supplying food barley to Japan.
“Direct communications between buyers and sellers through these trade teams provides the mutual understanding and trust that is key to market promotion,” Hamamoto said. “Without mutual trust, producing high beta-glucan barley under contracts would fall into a chicken-and-egg situation where both sides are not willing to undertake the risk of pursuing this niche market.”

The importance of a correct central vacuum system



A central vacuum system helps to deliver top notch housekeeping results in a milling facility, according to US firm Kice.

Besides good grain cleaning and dust control, one of the key components that greatly helps in delivering effective housekeeping results in a milling facility is a central vacuum system.

A dust collection system is not the same as a central vacuum system. Typically, dust collection systems have larger air volumes and lower dust loading or handling capabilities, while a central vacuum system operates under lower air volumes but has much higher dust handling capabilities.

From the perspective of Kice, a central vacuum system is a custom-designed network of tubing,  fittings, and elbows, which typically go back to a centrally located baghouse filter and vacuum device (e.g.,  high static fan, multi-stage blower, turbine, or vacuum air power unit).

The central vacuum system provides a high vacuum to the end of a hose with a variety of attachments for cleaning floors, walls, ducts, and around milling and other processing equipment.  The system also moves bulk materials in the event of spillage, equipment cleanout, etc.


In any central vacuum system, there are two important factors that influence its performance. They include:

  • Airflow, which is expressed in cubic feet per minute (cfm).
  • The pressure, more commonly referenced as vacuum, which often is expressed in inches of mercury, inches of water column, or in pounds per square inch (psi).

Special instruments like a manometer or Bourdon gauge can measure this force and express it regarding inches of mercury or water. While the airflow measurement indicates how much air the central vacuum system is moving, the pressure or vacuum measurement indicates the system’s peak draw or force.

Striking a good balance between airflow and vacuum to optimize performance is why sizing and the design of the central vacuum system are so important. A central vacuum system generally will work well if designed and sized properly and has good, high velocity at the tool head, with enough velocity and suction force to pick up and transport the material.

Also, a system will operate more efficiently if there are the correct number of users on the system, and if the system is sealed, grounded properly, and maintained properly. While central vacuum systems have become more commonplace, keeping them operating well and trouble-free can be challenging.

Lack of suction force and too many operators using a system simultaneously may effect and open points such as snaps becoming loose, loose couplings and connection points that cause air leakage may also impact efficiency. Dirty filter bags or vacuum pump inlet filters and a system that is not designed properly can also have a detrimental effect on efficiency.

Essentially, there are three key things that can impact the efficiency and proper functioning of a central vacuum system. They are:

  • Sizing
  • Design
  • Common resistance points


Kice has done extensive testing on various tools (e.g., crevice tool, brush, floor tools), hoses (coiled and uncoiled), and the vacuum air power unit components, including filters, silencers, and check plates at various cfm rates and pressures.

Generally, a system is sized and designed to accommodate the farthest point of pickup and perhaps the worst-case scenario. Sizing a system properly needs to take into account what type of materials it will handle. For example, flour mills and general systems, which handle lighter products and powders in smaller amounts, may be sized to deliver 200 cfm at a vacuum pressure of eight inches of mercury (Hg) per operator.

In contrast, grain elevators, feed mills, and seed facilities, which typically handle heavier products, whole seeds, and larger amounts of denser products, might require 200 cfm at 10 inches of Hg vacuum per operator.

The system also should be sized for realistic conditions. For example, don’t go to extremes on sizing a system for too many operators that may lead to inefficiencies. Oversizing a system leads to excessive horsepower and unnecessary noise.

The distance between the vacuum lines isn’t always super-critical, but like with many mechanical situations, there are limitations. Generally, running multiple three-inch outer diameter (OD) lines as needed throughout the facility is sufficient. Another rule-of-thumb is that the number of pickup locations served by a single three-inch outer diameter header pipeline is not super-critical. However, the critical thing is the number of users on each three-inch OD line.

Kice recommends that a system should have a maximum of two operators/sweepers on a three-inch OD line. With one or two operators, the vacuum suction remains good; however, when more than two operators are using a dedicated line, the suction force will likely start to drop for all the operators.

So, it’s important to design the system to accommodate the appropriate number of operators to avoid overtaxing the system’s capabilities. In sizing a system, a motor horsepower rating that will meet the vacuum relief setting established by the original equipment manufacturer is recommended. This will help minimize the risk of the motor overamping in a closed or clogged situation. When you get a clog in the system or extensive blockage, the vacuum relief valve is going to activate. The vacuum may be high, but the airflow through the relief valve will be minimal.

The end result is that the amps go up, which puts undue strain on the motor. Kice sizes for the release valve setting. In cases where motor overamping occurs, it might be due to the relief valve’s setting being a little too high or the motor’s horsepower a little too low.

For this reason, it’s important not to skimp on the motor’s horsepower rating to serve a given central vacuum system that meets the relief valve setting. Below are some typical horsepower requirements for a system serving a different number of operators.

  • One operator 10-15 hp.
  • Two operators 20-30 hp.
  • Three operators 30-40 hp.
  • Four operators 40-50 hp.
  • Six operators (at the same time) 50-75 hp.

On the other hand, sizing for a four or six-operator system that then only uses one or two operators is wasteful. The vacuum relief valve is pulling in free air to keep the pump safe but uses extra horsepower.


Besides sizing a central vacuum system properly to meet certain performance expectations, it’s also important to keep in mind some of the critical points in the system that may generate resistance and that potentially can reduce efficiency.

Those include:

  • Coiled hoses
  • Overly long hoses that aren’t necessary to fulfil a given task
  • Damaged hoses
  • Damaged tool ends
  • Clogged hoses
  • Large, bulky piles of product that might choke the system
  • Wet or moist product that can create undue resistance points in the system
  • Open snap caps
  • Coupling leaks
  • Dirty filters
  • Open relief valve

In laying out a central vacuum system, it’s important to avoid sharp twists or turns (e.g., mitered elbows) that will hinder the airflow and potentially lead to material buildup and blockage at these critical points.

Any back-to-back 90-degree angles will restrict the system’s pressure.


To help embrace what can impact a system’s efficiency, let’s run through some of the factors that come to bear. What follows is a basic accounting of how things add up when considering a worst-case scenario example with a system that is sized to provide 200 cfm at a pressure of eight inches of Hg. In the worst-case scenario, approximately 2.4 of those eight inches of Hg likely would be accounted for by the baghouse filter with dirty filter bags and the total resistance of the vacuum air power unit with a dirty inlet filter.

Another 2.1 inches of Hg might be accounted for from 25 feet of coiled hose and a crevice tool. So, already at this point more than half – or 4.5 inches of Hg – of a rated design of eight inches of Hg is being tied up due to dirty filter bags, dirty inlet filter, and a coiled-up hose equipped with a crevice tool (the worst-case scenario). Another 1.8 inches of Hg also could be attributed to the resistance created inside the three-inch tubing, elbows, and branch fittings used in a seven-story facility, and that is without moving any dust yet.

So, when adding it all up, out of a total of eight inches of Hg, approximately 6.3 inches of Hg is tied up under this worst-case scenario. This is why design, sizing, and keeping a central vacuum system free from obstructions is critical in moving the maximum amount of material effectively and efficiently.


What can you do to improve performance:

  • Take the time to calculate and understand the vacuum capabilities of the system’s design
  • Remember that a central vacuum system is for cleaning; it’s not meant for large-scale conveying of product.
  • Don’t forget that there will be more suction force closer to the filter.
  • Limit operators to two on each three-inch OD header
  • Reduce restrictions, including the use of more than 25 feet of hose(s)
  • Check for leaks, open caps, and couplings regularly.
  • Do not pull or kink
  • Install a spring cap on each 45-degree elbow, so the hose does not start with a kink from the vertical or horizontal position when picking up piles of product.
  • Allow easy access to air in and around the crevice tool.
  • Verify grounding and continuity of the system.
  • Perform regular maintenance of inlet filters and filter bags.
  • Install branches correctly (e.g., either upward or horizontal, so branch legs do not fill up with material over time).
  • Install cleanout ports at corners and long tubing runs.
  • Have a good complement of tools like crevices (rigid and flexible), gulpers, and bushes to handle various tasks.
  • Consider using static dissipative hose to mitigate static electricity build-up.

For more information visit kice.com

Generous donation for Mark Cornwell memorial fund

A campaign to raise money in memory of former colleague Mark Cornwell has received a major cash injection from Tapco Inc.

Mark “Cornman” Cornwell was a long-time associate of the grain and milling industry and having spent many years with World Grain helping build a leading industry magazine he then went on to partner with Perendale Publishers in 2014 to work on Milling and Grain magazine.

He died unexpectedly at his home on 11th September 2017 in Leawood Kansas at the age of 61.

His death left a great big hole in the grain and milling community and it set about fundraising to pay for scholarships.

Milling4Life (M4L) charity engaged with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) foundation, the Institute for Feed Education & Research (IFEEDER) to establish the scholarships in perpetuity in Mark’s name.

The scholarships will support students wishing to study feed manufacturing via a variety of learning institution throughout the USA, and Kansas State University course offerings in grain sciences, grain handling and processing which is one of the prominent institutions for scholarship recipients.

A donation of £5,000 from Roger Gilbert of Perendale Publishers Ltd kicked off the fundraising and now Tapco has generously donated £5,000 to the fund.

Paul Taylor of Tapco said: “Here at Tapco Inc. we have built a long, strong relationship with Mark Cornwell and it was a sad day that he was taken from us so soon. His commitment to the grain milling and grain handling sector was globally recognised and he will be sorely missed. Tapco Inc. recognizes the benefits of training young new talent in our industry and as such we wholly endorse this initiative to set up a trust fund in Marks name and in perpetuity for future millers and grain handling engineers.”


M4L is seeking companies in our industry, both within the USA and worldwide, prepared to contribute and who will be recognized for their contribution each time applicants are called upon to take up the scholarships. Individual donations are also welcomed and will be acknowledged via the M4L website  if they wish to be identified.

Tapco is the largest manufacturer of elevated buckets in North America.