Drying wheat and barley

If you harvest grain at high moisture content, you need to artificially dry it to 13 to 14 percent moisture for safe storage. Crop producers sometimes harvest wetter-than-usual grain to reduce harvest losses or because of wet weather.

There are two basic types of grain dryers:

  • Dryers that use no heat (natural-air dryers) or very little heat (low-temperature dryers).

  • Dryers that heat drying air to temperatures greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (high-temperature or high-speed dryers).

Natural-air and low-temperature drying

In natural-air and low-temperature drying, grain is slowly dried in storage over three to six weeks. 

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High-temperature drying

In high-temperature drying (also called high-speed drying), large volumes of air are heated to temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Grain is dried in a few hours or a few days. 

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William Wilcke, emeritus Extension engineer and Kenneth J. Hellevang, Extension engineer, North Dakota State University

Reviewed in 2018

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