Can you add value to your grain with a garden hose?

There are ways to hydrate dry grain before shipping, some legitimate and some less so. | File photo

Watering grain to increase moisture levels at sale is illegal but few farmers seem to know the specifics


Editor’s note: This story contains information that describes illegal and market damaging activities and in no way should be considered practices that producers should undertake under any circumstances. The adulteration of food products is an unsafe act and against Canadian law. For a related story about the regulations click here.

Shipping canola at eight percent or cereals at 12 percent moisture gives the buyer free bushels. The oilseed or grain will quickly be blended up to market moisture levels.

Many farmers are angered by the way elevators use their on-site blending facilities to raise moisture percent in dry grain and there are a range of opinions about adding moisture to grain.

Elsewhere in this section, Dave Wall and Calvin Boisjoli have listed seven main steps in legally hydrating grain before shipping.

Many growers hesitate to admit they water their grain to bring it up to market levels. Those who do admit it don’t want their names or photos used.

Here is random collection of farmer comments gleaned from phone interviews and farm publications about garden hoses and their use to moisten grain:

  • Whatever the hosing method selected, make sure you calculate how much water must be added to each truck. It will not be the same for each load.
  • Calibrate the moisture meter for the most accurate target level.
  • Some people mount the hose nozzle facing down into the up-augering grain. Others have found it’s preferable to suspend the nozzle about 10 feet above the auger spout.
  • Don’t turn water on until the auger is running and grain is flowing.
  • Farmers have been blacklisted from their closest elevators when caught watering a shipment.
  • More than one farmer suggested adding water just before heading to the elevator. A half-hour ride can be enough to uniformly distribute the water throughout the load. Letting the truck sit and wait allows water to drip out, a dead giveaway.
  • One percent of income potential is forfeited for every one percent under market moisture level. Wheat harvested and marketed at 10 percent rather than 14 percent will go for a discount of about four percent.
  • Adding water may result in pockets of damp grain within an otherwise dry grain mass, causing spoilage or mould.
  • Use bushels as a measurement because tonnes are too large of a volume to measure easily.
  • Determine how many gallons of water per minute comes out of the garden hose.
  • Be certain the water supply is clean and uncontaminated.
  • Adding one percentage point to 500 bushels of canola takes five bushels of water, or about 40 gallons.
  • Trickle water on evenly as the truck fills.
  • Fill the truck in the rain.
  • The easiest way to regulate the process is to rev up the auger and increase the grain flow while running water at the same rate.
  • Dockage was less because some seeds plumped up and didn’t go through the fine testing screens. There was three percent less dockage in one example.
  • Adding moisture to wheat increases the colour and the vitreousness to the point where a grade was gained over the super-dry wrinkled grain, in one example.
  • After the first load to the elevator, confidence will rise. Cautious people will add only a small amount of water the first time.
  • Perfect the technique before loading into producer cars. If moisture is over the safe limit and the car sits for a long time, chances for spoilage increase.

The Canadian Grain Commission has a moisture loss to weight conversion chart under “grain drying” on its website at www.grainscanada.gc.ca.

For a related story about the regulations click here.

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