WET WEATHER cereals which have sprouted in the ear can still be salvaged as a valuable feed item, according to a specialist.

With many cereal growers in the midst of salvaging their harvest, grains are already sprouting in the ear and others are heading in that direction.

But feed preservation specialist, Kelvin Cave, said they are salvageable and could provide a tradeable livestock concentrate feed.

Andy Strzelecki, the company’s technical director said that although a chitted crop has lost some of its value and may be unmarketable for its original purpose, it can still be a useful feed.

“Potentially, it can be salvaged into something useful if the right preservation techniques and materials are used. This means using a small clamp and ensiling the grain in a process which involves crimping and compacting the combine-harvested crop and covering with an impermeable plastic sheet to create an airtight seal,” he said.

“Any method of preservation is going to be a challenge for a crop which is wet and has chitted and may well be lodged, but our experience tells us that by far the best approach is to go ahead and combine the grain and store it in an airtight clamp or plastic tube,” he added.

“It’s important to crimp the cereal – a process which involves breaking the grain’s surface and exposing the carbohydrate and protein and which is often done by a contractor – and apply the appropriate preservative.

“Our advice with the choice of crimping preservative is to ensure the one you use has a track record of delivering a rapid but controlled lactic fermentation and quickly killing yeasts and moulds,” he says.

From Kelvin Cave’s portfolio, he recommended CrimpSafe, a preservative which comes in two versions which together can handle grain at moisture contents of less than 20% and over 30%.

“At high moisture levels, it could be prohibitively expensive to attempt to dry grain and the sprouts themselves can create problems in some dryers,” he said.

“Equally, storing a moist crop aerobically without ensiling is not always practical as it not only requires a good dry grain store which may not be available, but it may also require large amounts of product.

“However, a successfully crimped and ensiled cereal crop can ferment well and have a high feed value for livestock, even if harvested late. 

“But, most important at this time of year, it can salvage a crop which would otherwise be written off, and in so doing, provide either a livestock feed or a tradeable product for an arable farm.”

What is crimping?

Crimping involves rolling moist grain through a machine to expose the carbohydrate and protein and the application of a preservative such as CrimpSafe. 

This ensures a controlled fermentation and maximum nutrient retention once stored in an airtight clamp (or plastic tube). A range of modern preservatives allows cereals to be crimped and ensiled at moisture contents of 15%-45%. 

The crimped crop must remain sealed for at least three weeks and can then be fed throughout the year. When dealing with moist corn, crimping is considered to be more cost-effective than drying.