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Drying wheat and barley

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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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