Grain Crop Production

Grow Grains, Legumes, Cereals, Pseudocereals, Pulses and More

Grains production is one of the largest agricultural industries globally, producing staple foods such as wheat, rice and corn which are critical to sustaining most of the world population.

This is an industry which is constantly changing, and increasingly technical. Through this course you can develop a fundamental understanding of a wide range of grain and legume crops; broadening your perspective on what you might grow and how it might be grown on an agronomic farm.

Course Duration: 100 hours

Course Structure

This course has nine lessons.

  1. Introduction to grains
    • Production of crops in different climates and ecological zones
    • Crop growing periods and growing degree days
    • Cropping season as affected by moisture availability
    • World cropping
    • Cereal crop growth stages
    • Grain types
    • Production systems
  2. Cereal/grain infrastructure and machinery requirements
    • Equipment requirements
    • Seed
    • Harvest
    • Grain storage
  3. Wheat , triticale, spelt, barley, oats, rye
    • Wheat and spelt
    • Triticale
    • Oats
    • Barley
    • Rye
  4. Maize, Sorghum, millet
    • Maize
    • Sorghum
    • Millet
  5. Rice
    • Cultivation
    • Crop health and diseases
    • Harvest
  6. Pulse crops
    • Pulse crops
    • Soybeans
    • Pidgeon peas
    • Lima beans
    • Cowpeas
    • Mung beans
    • Chickpeas
    • Lentils
    • Faba beans
    • Field peas
  7. Pseudo cereals
    • Chia
    • Quinoa
    • Amaranth
    • Buckwheat
    • Sesame seed
  8. Processing grains for human consumption
    • Post-harvest processing
    • Storage
    • Grain processing for consumption
    • Wheat processing
    • Processing maize (corn)
    • Processing rice
    • Processing oats
    • Processing pseudograins
    • Fortifying foods
  9. Grains for livestock consumption
    • Difference between crops for human consumption and animal consumption
    • C3 and C4 grasses
    • Nutrient-dense forages and forage quality

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Why Do We Grow Grains?

The crops discussed in this course are grown to produce either forage or grain. Forage is food for livestock, where the grass itself is an important component of the crop. Grain, on the other hand, is for human consumption. In this case, the grain is removed from the rest of the plant, then readied for human consumption. The type of consumption and amount of processing required varies according to the grain type and use.

Once the grain is ready for harvesting, it must go through several more steps. When the grain reaches primary processing, the steps may vary some – rice, for instance, is often hulled then sold without milling.

Raw Material Production

  • Harvest (reaping, threshing, winnowing, usually done by a combine harvester)
  • Drying
  • Storage

Primary Processing

  • Cleaning
  • Conditioning
  • Blending
  • Milling
  • Sieving
  • Packaging
  • Storage and Distribution

Harvesting Grains

The timing of harvest depends on the primary purpose of the grain. Grain intended for human consumption is usually harvested once it is fully ripe (as opposed to grain for arable silage and germination, which is usually harvested while the plant is still green and leafy, and the seed immature). Choosing the right time to harvest is essential to bringing in the grain when it is not too wet (greater than 18% moisture content). The moisture content of grain can vary up to 5% based on humidity and climate. It is also important to ensure the harvest comes in before plants are damaged by seasonal weather, potentially causing grain damage and lodging. Lodging is the major barrier to efficient harvesting of cereals, so harvest must be appropriately timed – aim to bring in your cereal crops before the onset of heavy winds, rain, and other inclement weather. 

In most cases, cereal crops are harvested by combine, a farm machine that combines the acts of reaping, threshing, and winnowing. Combines are effective, efficient, and economical as they improve speed while reducing labour costs.  It is important, however, to pay attention to crop type and settings when using a combine, as each crop is different. The major losses in combine harvesting happen when ears are not cleanly picked – this can be a particular issue with barley. Always check for potential issues with individual crops and combines, and determine the best settings and height before harvest to reduce grain loss.

Some small producers, especially those with inexpensive labour available, harvest manually. For the most part, combines are less expensive over time and highly effective.

Preparing for Harvest

Seedbed Preparation 
Although it might seem like seedbed preparation, sowing, and harvesting are discrete stages, each stage affects the next. Even prep and sowing of the seedbed helps ensure even ripening, so a whole crop can be harvested at once. This is especially important if you are using a combine, as it can’t differentiate between ripe and unripe grain. If you’re sowing more than one crop, proper timing for sowing can help ensure crops ripen in stages, so that there is time to harvest one crop fully, then the next, and so on and so forth. This kind of timing can also help prevent grain losses to birds and other potential pests. 
If you will be drying and storing and grain, it is best to prepare your storage areas before bringing in the harvest. This will reduce the amount of fines (small particulates) mixed in with the grain, and thereby reduce the likelihood of mould, bacterial, and fungal contamination. 

Depending on your area, regulations, and local pest profiles, you may want to fumigate areas that can't be easily cleaned, or spray insecticide on to your storage equipment.                       

Storage after Harvest

Moisture content is the most important factor in how grain is stored.  Grain stored in sacks for shorter periods can have a moisture content as high as 18%, while grain stored for more than six months must be dried to have a moisture content of 14% or less. Keeping grain at an appropriate moisture content is important because:

  • It reduces the likelihood of contaminant growth
  • It reduces the likelihood of sprouting, which leads to fungus and mould
  • It reduces the likelihood of the grain “heating”, which also leads to contaminant growth.

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Fee Information (S2)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $781.66  1 x $710.60
B 2 x $416.96  2 x $379.05

Note: Australian prices include GST. 

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