How to Harvest High-Moisture Grain

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/05/2023 - 8:00am

Harvesting high-moisture grain can be a challenging yet necessary task for many farmers. When done correctly, it can maximize yields and minimize potential losses. However, important risks are associated with harvesting grain with high moisture levels. Continue reading to learn about these risks and valuable tips to help navigate the process successfully.



When or why would I need to harvest high-moisture grain?

Harvesting high-moisture grain becomes necessary for various reasons:

  • Weather Constraints: Unpredictable weather conditions can force farmers to harvest grain before it reaches the ideal moisture content.
  • Crop Maturity: Some crops, like corn, may be harvested early for specific uses like silage or high-moisture grain for livestock feeding.
  • Continuous Harvest: In regions with shorter growing seasons, farmers may need to start harvest before grain reaches optimal moisture levels to ensure a continuous harvest.


What are the risks of harvesting high-moisture grain?

Harvesting grain with high-moisture content comes with its fair share of risks that can impact the quality and profitability of your crop. Understanding these risks is the first step in ensuring a successful harvest.

  • Mold and Fungus Growth: High-moisture grain is susceptible to mold and fungus growth, leading to spoilage and reduced grain quality.
  • Storage Challenges: Storing high-moisture grain requires specialized equipment and conditions to prevent spoilage and maintain grain quality.
  • Reduced Grain Value: High-moisture content can lower the market value of your grain, affecting your bottom line.


Tips for harvesting high-moisture grain

Sometimes, there is no choice except to harvest high-moisture grain. Here are some tips to help you overcome these challenges in those cases.


Monitor moisture levels

One of the critical aspects of successful high-moisture grain harvesting is keeping a close eye on moisture levels.

  • Invest in a Moisture Tester: A moisture tester is an invaluable tool for determining the exact moisture content of your grain. Regular testing throughout the harvest season will help you decide when to start harvesting.
  • Harvest at the Right Moisture Level: Aim to harvest your grain when moisture levels are within the acceptable range for your crop type. This information can usually be found in your crop’s recommendations or guidelines. Harvesting too early can lead to decreased yields while harvesting too late can result in quality issues.


Adjust harvest equipment

Properly calibrating and adjusting your harvest equipment is crucial for a successful high-moisture grain harvest.

  • Combine Settings: Adjust the settings on your combine to accommodate the higher moisture content. This may include altering rotor speed, concave clearance, and fan speed to optimize grain separation and reduce damage.
    • Setting adjustment examples for classes 6, 7, 8, or 9. 60, 70, 600, 700 Series
      • Concave: Concave settings are crucial when dealing with high-moisture corn. The whole cob, or mostly whole cobs, need to get out the back of the combine. High-moisture corn tends to have a spongy cob, which can break up easily. Keeping the cob out of the grain tank is very hard when it breaks. When adjusting the concave clearance, starting wide and slowly coming down to the correct size is best.
      • Rotor Speed: The slower the rotor speed, the better to avoid grain damage while remaining above 400 rpms. Going slower can cause threshing in the feed accelerator as corn needs to be pulled into the rotor instead of pushed through.
      • Fan Speed: High-moisture corn is heavy and hard to blow out of the combine. Every combine is a little different, but fan speeds around 1,100 will generally blow enough air for the high-moisture grain.
  • Regular Maintenance: Ensure your equipment is well-maintained and in peak condition to minimize the risk of breakdowns during the harvest. Regular maintenance can also help extend the life of your equipment.



Your high-moisture grain harvest timing is critical to avoid the negative consequences of delayed or premature harvesting.

  • Monitor Weather Patterns: Keep a close watch on weather forecasts to plan your harvest around dry weather windows, minimizing the risk of grain exposure to moisture. Harvesting during periods of high humidity can be particularly challenging, so choose your harvest days wisely.
  • Test Sample Harvest: Consider taking a small sample of your crop to test for moisture content before committing to full-scale harvesting. This practice allows you to gauge whether the crop is ready for harvest or needs more time to dry down naturally.


Harvest techniques

Adopting the proper techniques can significantly impact the success of your high-moisture grain harvest.

  • Slow Down the Harvest Pace: Slower ground speed and reduced combine capacity can help maintain quality during high-moisture conditions. Reducing the speed at which your combine operates allows for more effective threshing and separation.
  • Harvest During Cooler Temperatures: Harvesting in the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening, can reduce the risk of grain spoilage due to heat and moisture. Cooler temperatures can help slow down microbial activity and maintain grain quality.


Reducing harvest losses

Minimizing harvest losses is essential when dealing with high-moisture grain.

  • Use Header Height Control: Properly adjust your header height to prevent shattering and grain loss. The correct header height ensures that you pick up as much grain as possible while minimizing losses due to lodging or shattering.
  • Check for Residue Buildup: Regularly inspect and clean your equipment to prevent residue buildup, which can contribute to grain loss. Residue buildup can interfere with grain flow through your combine, leading to unnecessary losses.


Where can I find additional support during harvest?

At Koenig Equipment, we understand the unique challenges of harvesting high-moisture grain. Our team is here to provide you with expert advice, equipment servicing, and the latest technology to ensure a successful harvest. The Koenig Equipment MyDealer platform offers valuable resources, including online parts ordering, service requests, equipment records, and more! Use your Koenig Equipment MyDealer account to order parts or schedule service to help you harvest high-moisture grain successfully.



Additional Resources

Koenig Equipment MyDealer

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