NDSU Extension Service - Mercer County

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Beef Producer Short Course Set, Moisture Meters are not Accurate on Cold Grain

"Makin' Some Green in 2014", beef producers, moisture meters

Submitted by Craig Askim, Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources

Beef Producer Short Course Set

The North Dakota State University Extension Service is holding a short course Dec. 9 for beef producers in the south-central part of the state.

The "Makin' Some Green in 2014" workshop will address common challenges facing producers. The event will be held: Monday, Dec. 9 at the Beulah Civic Center, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Contact: Craig Askim, Extension Agent (701) 873-5195.

Topics and presenters are:

* 30 years of experience and the latest research at NDSU's Carrington Research Extension Center - Vern Anderson.

* Strategies for producers to be successful in a changing beef industry - John Paterson, executive director of producer education for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association

* Update on pink eye research and treatment options - Neil Dyer, director of the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

* Herd health challenges and management - panel of veterinarians

Preregistration is required because meals are planned at each location. The registration deadline is Dec. 5.

The cost is $20 per person or $30 for two people from the same operation if registered by the deadline. After the deadline, the cost goes up to $30 per person or $40 for two from the same operation.

Warning: Many Grain Moisture Meters are not Accurate on Cold Grain

Many electronic moisture meters used on farms are not accurate when grain temperatures are below about 40 degrees. Place the grain sample in a plastic bag or other sealed container, warm it to room temperature, and then measure the moisture content to obtain an accurate value.

Rapid warming methods, such as heating the sample in the microwave oven or using another form of heater, generally cause errors. These rapid methods have caused errors of two percentage points or more.

If the sample is not in a sealed container during warming indoors, moisture will initially condense on the surface of the kernel and cause an error. As the sample continues to warm, the grain will be drying which will also cause an error.

Even meters used in testing laboratories have a grain sample temperature range. For example, some have a range of 0° to 113° F while others are 32° to 100° F. 

At temperatures within the operating range, the meter reading may need to be adjusted based on the grain temperature unless the meter measures the grain temperature and automatically adjusts the reading. Check the operator’s manual for the meter to determine correct procedures to obtain an accurate value. If the meter does not automatically measure the grain temperature and adjust the value, then it must be done manually.

Even if the meter does it automatically, it is recommended to allow a sample in a sealed container to reach room temperature before measuring the moisture content, and then compare the moisture content of the room temperature sample to the initial sample to verify that the adjustment is done accurately.

Also, moisture meters will not provide accurate readings on corn coming from a high temperature dryer due to the moisture variation within the kernel. The amount of error will vary depending on the amount of moisture removed and the drying temperature, but the meter reading error may be 2 percentage points.

Kenneth Hellevang, Ph.D., PE

NDSU Extension Engineer, Professor

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