Sprouted Wheat: Marketability, Feed and Seed Quality

K-State specialists discuss options for problematic wheat.

The 2007 wheat crop in central and eastern Kansas had more than its share of problems. In addition to freeze damage, flooding, and heavy disease pressure, continuous rains in late June and early July caused pre-harvest sprouting in some fields, says Jim Shroyer, K-State Research and Extension crop production specialist.

Shroyer says producers have three options for sprouted wheat that has been harvested: sell it to a grain elevator, sell it to a livestock feeding operation, or save it for seed:

  • Marketing to a grain elevator - This is the easiest option, but can be costly. Grain elevators will often discount sprouted wheat. Some elevators may even refuse to take sprouted wheat, said Leland McKinney, Extension grain science specialist.
  • Livestock feeding - Sprouted wheat can be fed to cattle if it is processed. As long as sprouted wheat has good aeration in storage, it will have feed quality similar to non-sprouted wheat, says K-State animal scientist Twig Marston. "Sprouted wheat can make up to 50% of the total amount of grain fed to the cattle. Sprouted wheat will make better feed for heavier cattle than lightweight cattle. It is not well suited for hog rations, however, because of the low test weights," Marston says.
  • Saving for seed - Can producers use sprouted wheat seed for next year's crop? The answer is "sometimes," Shroyer says. A K-State study showed that seed with a split seed coat can germinate – even after storage, but seed showing visible plant parts should not be used. In all cases, it's best to conduct a germination test.

Details about the research can be found in the K-State Research and Extension publication, "Planting wheat seed damaged by sprouting before harvest" at: www.oznet.ksu.edu/library/crpsl2/srl115.pdf.

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