Fluctuating weather conditions during the European summer season influenced the quality of the harvested grain

Bert de Jong

09 October 2023
4 minutes

We have all witnessed that the weather has been very changeable this past summer. After harvesting barley during dry weather, more extended periods of rainfall started. In many European places, other grains were harvested later under suboptimal conditions. We monitor raw materials daily. Barley generally exhibits good quality. However, wheat, as well as triticale and rye, show considerable variability.

Increased risk of sprouting and lodging

If grains, especially early varieties, cannot be harvested on time, sprouting and lodging can occur. Sprouting means that grain kernels begin to germinate in combination with moist conditions in the crop. If sprouting occurs but is still in an early stage and can be stored adequately dry, the impact on feed quality will be manageable. Lodging refers to the crop lying down, making harvesting more challenging. This will result in more weed seeds present in the grain.

In combination with sprouting and lodging, the moisture level of the harvested grain is crucial. Insufficiently dry-stored grain can continue the germination process and allow molds to further develop.

Significant variations in protein levels

Suboptimal harvest conditions like sprouting, lodging, and rainfall can decrease quality. We are observing highly variable protein levels in wheat this season. Additionally, for several years now, we have noticed that in some regions, reduced fertilization due to regulations is leading to decreased protein levels. As a result of the war and the limited availability of nitrogen fertilizer, grain, specifically from Ukraine, has also shown lower protein levels this year at times.

Mycotoxins are relatively low so far but vary by region

Contrary to expectations, we have not yet observed higher levels of mycotoxins in wheat from Northwestern and Central Europe at this time. However, it is wise to remain alert, as mycotoxins can also develop during storage, and much of the grain was harvested with high moisture levels. We have analyzed some wheat batches from Southeast Europe with high DON levels.

Good quality barley and highly variable quality wheat

Bert de Jong

Be alert, analyze, and take measures

We hear reports of grain being diverted for bio-gasification, but we all know that most grain will ultimately end up in the compound feed market. Visual inspection provides a lot of information. The importance of (NIR) analysis upon intake to assess the feed value of your grain is even more crucial when dealing with significant variations in quality.

In the case of sprouting and lodging, the hectoliter weight of the grain will be lower; current analyses show significant variation in hectoliter weight. Moisture level and grain weight also influence hectoliter weight. If a NIR analysis is not possible, these three parameters can help indicate the quality.

* Lower hectoliter weight indicates contamination levels.

** Higher 1000-grain weight indicates a lower bran content and thus higher nutritional values.

*** Hectoliter weight and 1000-grain weight should be measured at standardized moisture levels.

It is advisable to separate wheat by quality and store and process it separately. Cleaning grains is even more important when the quality is low. As mentioned, the quality of barley is generally good. We are awaiting the new corn harvest. Potentially, the proportion of wheat can be limited as a result. It may be worth noting that the quality of wheat by-products can also vary significantly, so this also deserves special attention.

Contact us

Koudijs can advise you on optimising your recipes, analysing raw materials, and managing mycotoxins. Please do not hesitate to contact us for support.

About the author

Bert de Jong