Wheat Management

Drying Wheat

Drying Wheat

The ideal moisture content for wheat is around 14 percent. To reach this level, you may need to dry your wheat.

How Grain Dryers Work

  • Wet wheat in dryers is cooled as moisture from the wheat evaporates into the air around it.
  • As the wheat dries, the cooling effect decreases.
  • As the moisture content approaches 14 percent, the wheat is almost as hot as the air in the dryer. This is when damage is most likely to occur.

Farm Dryers

There are many kinds of farm dryers on the market. For safe drying of your wheat the dryer must:

  • Keep the wheat moving in the dryer
  • Mix the wheat with the hot air
  • If wheat is not kept moving, kernels lying next to the heat source dry first. Thesemay be damaged if the air temperature is above 60°C (140°F).

Drying Wheat Safely on the Farm and in Elevators

  • Determine the temperature in your Dryer
  • Take the temperature of the hot air before it enters the dryer. Temperatures taken within the wheat layers may be misleading.
  • You may need to install extra temperature sensors to determine the highest air temperature in the plenum. Dryer thermometers may be inaccurate or incorrectly placed in the plenum.
  • Watch the thermometers inside the dryer to ensure the temperature stays constant. Outside air temperature and wind may affect drying.

Keep Temperature at Levels Safe for Your Dryer

  • If your dryer has not been tested, keep temperatures below 60°C (140°F).
  • If you use a non-recirculating dryer or a cross flow continuous dryer, keep temperatures at 60°C (140°F) or below.

If you use Another Type of Dryer

  • Dry batches at 60°C (140°F).
  • Have the results tested.
  • If tests show no damage, raise the temperature to 65°C (149°F).
  • Test again. (With some dryers, you may be able to raise the temperature to 70°C (158°F).)

Do Not Over Dry

Stop drying when the moisture level in your wheat reaches 14.5 percent if you are using heat to dry your grain. As the wheat cools, more moisture will be lost.

Dry Very Wet Wheat Slowly

If your wheat is over 20 percent moisture:

  • Remove less than 6 percent of the moisture in one pass through the dryer. Do not attempt to remove more.
  • Keep the temperature below 60°C (140°F).
  • Reduce the drying temperature to 50°C (122°F) to for the last quarter of the heating cycle.

How Grain Dryers Can Damage Wheat Quality

Some dryers may overheat the wheat. This partially cooks the protein inside the kernel. Wheat flour with cooked protein is not good for baking. Wheat with cooked protein is only good for feed.


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