What Grain Should Be Used?
After your Grow System choice, your seed choice has the largest impact on the quality and quantity of the sprouted feed grown.
In the growing of sprouted grains, the seed has the overall most significant impact on the final results. Purchase only the current growing season crop, with tested germination of over 94%, and a protein level of over 14% for barley or 16% for wheat. Secondly, require that the seed be free from insects which damage the seed and spread molds. Then look for an excessive amount of cracked seed coats and broken kernels, which allow entry of fungal organisms into the grain, and will not sprout.
Most molds become associated with the grain in the field but may continue to grow and reproduce if stored under the wrong conditions of moisture and temperature in the bin. Insist on grain stored with a moisture content no greater than 12%. Grain harvested with a moisture content higher than 12%, needs to be dried with cool air when the seed is first placed in storage. If the seed can not be dried with cool temperatures and airflow, extreme care should be used if a commercial dryer is used. Once the seed is put into storage and at the correct temperature and moisture content, nothing can be done to improve the grain quality.
Before harvest, most molds multiply in the grain when there is drought or during prolonged periods of cold, wet weather. After harvest, grain improperly stored or grain not correctly dried can also produce molds. Incorrectly stored gain without proper airflow will cause hot spots in storage that contain high concentrations of mycotoxins, which contaminate the grain.
If you don’t know how and when the grain was harvested, what the protein level is, and how it was stored, ask the party whom you are going to purchase it from, they should know. Always, get a sample before buying. If your grow room becomes mold-contaminated, it is hard to reverse.
In general, six-row barley has more protein and enzyme content than two-row barley, it is also thinner and contains less carbohydrate. Higher temperatures and moisture stress result in higher protein, less starch, and a slimmer kernel. A quality bushel of barley weighs 48 lb / 21.77 kg.
Selecting a seed that has a high test weight is critical to maximizing economic gain. Wheat weighs 60 lb / 27.22 kg per bushel. Low test weight will occur with poor fertility, insect damage, drought, waterlogging, heat stress, root rot, and disease. The test weight of wheat is the gage of seed quality and performance.
All of these factors can be summarized as follows:
When choosing grain there are several factors to be considered.
Is your system a small system or a commercial system?
- Small systems will likely purchase seed typically in 50 lb. bags.
- Larger small systems may also buy seed in bulk bags with spouts.
- Larger systems will buy grain by the truckload typically 50,000 lbs.
What grain is available locally?
- Depending on where you are located there may be a grain grown locally.
- Transportation costs can be a substantial part of the cost of grain, so sourcing your grain locally can save on cost.
- Remember grain is usually the least expensive at harvest time, so time your purchases accordingly.
How much has the grain been handled?
- The more any grain is handled the more the kernel is damaged. You are purchasing the grain by weight and you want as many complete kernels as possible, not broken and cracked kernels or dust.
- The ideal source would be from a local farmer where it is sent from the combine directly to the storage bin. When grain is a harvested, it will typically go through a “sweat”. The grain will heat up and drive moisture out of the kernel, which can lead to the kernel molding. The grain should be thoroughly dried and cooled by circulating cool air through the bin. This will mean that it is likely to be at least 1 month after harvest before the grain is available for purchase.
- The grain should never have been run through a high-temperature dryer to remove moisture. This destroys the germination of the grain.
- Always ask how the grain was stored and handled. If you buy grain with mold and it gets in your system, it can be a problem to get under control.
What is the nutritional value?
- The nutritional value of the seed has a direct correlation to the nutritional value of the fodder.
- Always get a sample and have a lab test done.
- Also, take a sample and grow it yourself as a test plot.
- Always check the germination. This can be done by a lab or you can test it yourself.
- Take a random handful, and place 100 seeds on a paper napkin that is placed in a tray. Place in a cool calm location. Take a spray bottle and wet the seeds thoroughly. Through the next 3 or 4 days spray the seed every 2 or 3 hours. Keeping them and the paper towel moist.
- At the 4th day count how many seeds have germinated. This number is the germination percent.
- Many producers will not buy anything less than 95%.
- While the price is important, it is not the only consideration. Buying only on price can be a disaster.