The presence of mold is the largest concern. Anything grown in a warm moist environment has a potential for mold spores to grow. So let's discuss types of mold.

Green mold close-up on a black background

To understand mold we might make a comparison to something we are more familiar with. There are many different kinds of molds just like there are many different kinds of mushrooms. Some are quite good for you and can fight infections and aid digestion, some are neurotoxins like psychedelic mushrooms, and some, like the black spotty molds that grow on wood or sheetrock, can kill you.

There are 4 types of mold spores that are found on all cereal grain seeds; they are called Bread Molds and are not the same types that are found in dry hay or alfalfa. These molds are exactly the same ones you will see on the bread in your pantry if it has aged. It is not pleasant to look at but probably will not hurt you.

Three of these molds are in the same classification (Rhizopus spp, spt, sptt) and are actually good for the animal in small quantities, they are good for the gut, and they promote healing and aid digestion. In large quantities, they will give them the runs. I call them grey spider molds. If you touch them with your finger they will darken to a gunmetal gray color. You will see them at the top of the plants above the seed line usually around the outside of the tray or on the very bottom of the roots. If you see it just go ahead and feed it.

Microscopic image of growing molds or mold fungus and spores - 3d illustration

The fourth type has been described as cotton ball mold.

(A. Clavatus) You will usually see it start in the middle of the sprouts and it looks like a cotton ball, in two hours it could be the size of your fist, and in 6-8 hrs it can cover the whole tray. It spreads rapidly, and it is a neurotoxin. Now, animals, especially large animals would have to eat quite a lot of it to do any real damage, but it is not good for them.

You can see the effect after spring grain fields are harvested and the farmers let the cattle out to graze on the stubble. If it gets dewy or rains at night then warms up above 75.3 during the day, it will spore and take off and you will see cattle dragging their hind legs and swaying from side to side like they are drunk. Well, they are not drunk they are high.

To control mold is really a very simple processFirst as the seed is watered, using a compound such as Chlorine or Hydrogen Peroxide will help to sterilize the seed, and neutralize any molds present. However the spores can be tough to sterilize, so the next step is to simply keep the temperature below 70˚F . The mold we want to prevent will spore above 75˚ F so staying below 70˚ F will prevent the sporing of the mold.