Timing Wheat Harvest for Top Quality

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When is the best time to harvest for top quality milling and baking wheat?

Harvest timing and weather influence wheat quality. Farmers growing grain for the milling and baking market need high-quality wheat. Watch this short video to learn more from Dr. Angela Post.

Wheat quality components typically include: 

  1. High test weight of 58-60 pounds/bushel;
  2. Falling number over 250 seconds;
  3. Kernel volume and uniformity- large, plump kernels
  4. Low mycotoxin number. Fusarium (head scab) produces a toxin called DON that makes the wheat unsafe in amounts higher than 1 ppm.

Harvest Recommendations:

  1. Harvest at Full Maturity: The grain should be hard and not be easily split with a fingernail, the straw should be dead, and the whole plant is golden and crop is easily harvested.
  2. Moisture Content: In North Carolina we can harvest anywhere between 16 – 18% moisture if you have the time and ability to dry it down to 13%.
  3. Timing Around Weather Events: Summer is our wettest season in North Carolina. One of the biggest things that impacts test weight is getting a rain event on grain that is already completely mature and dried down. For every single rain that we see after full maturity we can lose up to a pound of test weight
  4. Use NC State University’s NEW Wheat Quality Testing Lab: The lab is opening this year. You can now submit a 1 qt sample to be analyzed for protein content, test weight, moisture and falling number. We can also do DON analysis if you think you have head scab in your wheat. In order to submit a sample you need to work through your local county agent. For more information about how to get those samples to us you can click here: NC State’s Wheat Quality Testing Lab