From the Ground Up

Inspiring views on the evolution of soil and agriculture.

Grain Grading and Emergence

When discussing the idea of drill performance, as it pertains to crop quality, field inspection over the course of the growing season is typically how this is achieved. The grain that is harvested at the end of the year provides a more accurate representation as it is the final finished product that enters the food supply chain. Each harvest season, grain companies ask producers to take representative samples of their crops as they are loaded into grain bins or bags. Grain handling facilities then grade the samples to determine grade and quality before the producer is given the green-light to deliver. This ensures that the elevator accepts delivery of grain that corresponds with their end-user orders and shipping requirements which can vary in terms of grade (and protein in the case of wheat).

One of the biggest problems regarding wheat grading in recent years has been the presence of Fusarium Head Blight (FHB). This disease produces a compound called vomitoxin, which is harmful to both human and animal consumption. FHB is best prevented by an application; however, if a crop is at different stages of emergence other than the ideal flowering timing, the chemical will not be as effective or not effective at all.

Fusarium-damaged kernels (FDK) in wheat

A concern fungicide company representatives and agronomists will often get from growers is that despite spraying, they still had fusarium-damaged kernels (FDK) in their grain samples. The maximum amount of FDK in a sample of CWRS wheat to make #1 grade is 0.25% and 0.8% to make #2. The current discounts at Parrish and Heimbecker, for example, is $0.05/bu from #1 to #2 and $0.20/bu from #2 to #3 so it can be quite a hit to a growers’ bottom line to have their samples downgraded in addition to yield loss.

Seed Hawk technology is known for producing evenly-emerged crops with its precision seed-to-fertilizer placement in all types of terrain and soil. Growers can’t control the types of conditions favorable to FHB development, but they can choose the planting equipment that will give their wheat a better defense in the way of even emergence when it’s time to spray. These cultural control measures all add up to a more profitable bottom line and a more enjoyable off-season planning for the year to come.


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