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What are normal moisture readings?

Last updated: February 18, 2021

When grains gain moisture, they are considered wet and when they lose moisture, they are considered dry. However, the question is how can a farmer or aggregator efficiently tell if his grains are gaining or losing moisture? The only efficient way to determine this is by using a grain moisture meter and knowing the right or normal moisture readings.

Why grain moisture meters are important

Grain farmers all over the world have common needs. The most important of their needs is managing post harvest losses and one of the ways it occurs is as a result of grain spoilage caused by mould growth and aflatoxins.

Read more about aflatoxins here

Mould growth and aflatoxins occur when there is a high moisture content in grains. It is important to note that grain is hydroscopic. This means that grain gains or loses moisture as a result of the relative humidity of its surroundings. The higher the humidity, the more moisture gain and the lower the humidity, the less moisture gain.

This is why moisture meters are important. They help farmers, traders and aggregators to easily measure the moisture content of their grains. It helps them keep grains at their right moisture levels to increase storage time. It helps farmers reduce and manage post-harvest loss, preventing the loss of investment.

Normal moisture readings

For grains to last longer in storage, they have to lose moisture. This means, for a moisture reading to be normal, it has to be a lower percentage ranging between 12% to 25%. This depends mostly on the type of grain you’re measuring.

Anything higher is not normal especially for storage as it indicates that the grains are too wet to be stored. High moisture content in grains as indicated earlier in this article can cause mould growth leading to grain spoilage and eventually, postharvest loss.

Here are some normal moisture readings for some grains that has been estimated by agricultural scientists;

  • Rice: 12%. This minimizes grain quality deterioration
  • Maize: the ideal moisture content of maize or corn should be 13% for storage. 18 to 25 percent before harvesting.
  • Wheat: the ideal moisture content for wheat is estimated between 18 to 20 percent. However, if you plan to sell soon, the moisture content should be at 13.5% and if you plan to store for a year or more, it should be at 12.5%

Take away

It is important for farmers and commodity traders to know what the right moisture readings are for grains. It helps them meet market requirements, helps them detect when grains are ready for storage and helps reduce post-harvest loss. 

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