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Expert: Working with frost-damaged grains

To hear Brandon’s Money Matters report on dealing with frost-damaged grains, click here.

He’s not making any predictions on when the first frost will hit, but Iowa State University Extension Grain Quality Specialist Dr. Charlie Hurburgh does have some perspective on what to expect if your corn or soybeans are damaged by frost this year.


According to Hurburgh, living corn plants that are hit with frost but have not yet reached physiological maturity at black layer will result in softer kernels containing a higher sugar content. Oftentimes, Hurburgh says, that results in low test weights and poor storability.

Feed value? Unless the grain – unless it’s way before maturity, it’ll feed okay. It’ll be bulky. Obviously, volume-wise, you’ve got to have more volume to get the same weight into the pig or whatever, but from a pure feed-value perspective, it’s probably not going to be hurt too much.
It takes quite a bit before test weight actually starts to hurt feed value.


Hurburgh says immature beans suffering from frost damage will be green, oblong, and wet. Drying the beans down will give them the proper shape, but green soybeans will concern processors, who encounter difficulties extracting and refining oil. Hurburgh recommends letting the beans field dry so long as they’re not splitting. After that, he says to put them in an aerated bin for two to three weeks. The beans won’t look pretty, he admits, but he says some of the greenness will subside. In his opinion, the worst thing to do is the most intuitive.

Worst thing you could do is cut them right away and try to sell them. Because then the processor has to deal with it as it is.
Just let them air down. There’s a certain amount of greenness that is taken to call it “damaged” in the grades. Less than that, and it’s not officially damaged, and it doesn’t create the issues in processing when it’s like Kelly green. That’s bad.