An introduction to grain sampling

Discover how to capture the quality and condition of your grain.

It is important to understand and manage the quality of your grain. As part of this, accurate sampling is required to guide management and provide a robust record of all the grain that leaves the farm.

Harvest Toolkit (information on harvest, straw, sampling, storage and marketing)

Why sample grain?

Put simply, sampling puts you in control of your product – grain.

Retained representative grain samples give you a robust record of everything that leaves your farm.

For many years, grain sampling has been required to measure key quality parameters (e.g. Hagberg Falling Number, nitrogen content and specific weight) and help your grain reach the right market.

However, more recent challenges (e.g. mycotoxins) require the industry to demonstrate due diligence, with samples of grain traded part of that evidence. Additionally, sampling requirements increasingly feature within contracts.

Follow good grain sampling and storage practice to help reduce waste and minimise charges, claims and rejections.

How to sample grain

If taken and stored correctly, grain samples provide a powerful record of grain quality. Central to success is the segregation of different grain qualities, and the extraction of representative samples (with the appropriate equipment).

How to sample grain

Grain sampling opportunities

Best practice grain sampling encourages sampling at every step of the grain chain.

  1. At harvest, assess moisture content.
  2. Before storage, take representative samples.
  3. During storage, monitor grain (moisture, temperature and pests).
  4. At outloading, take representative samples.
  5. At intake, processors sample and analyse grain.

Merchants may also take samples from ex-harvest aggregate samples or from on-farm stores for an indication of market suitability.

Grain sampling before storage

The best opportunity to generate representative samples of your grain is as stores are filled. Analysis of samples will confirm if grain meets the proposed market criteria and help determine the optimum storage strategy.

Grain sampling before storage

Grain sampling and monitoring during storage

Grain remains a ‘living’ crop – it respires and is susceptible to infection by moulds and infestation by pests. It is important to monitor temperature and moisture content, and to use targets to inform store management.

Grain sampling and monitoring during storage

Grain sampling at outloading

To keep control of your grain quality, best practice is to take and retain a representative sample from each lorry load before it leaves the farm.

Grain sampling at outloading

Grain sampling at commercial intake

Most buyers sample and analyse grain at intake to determine its final quality and whether it has met the agreed contractual requirement and specifications. Find out how samples are taken and analysed.

Grain sampling at commercial intake

Negotiate a contract that works for you

A well-designed contract will pave the way for a smooth transfer of goods (grain) from the seller to the buyer, with the expected price paid in return. Additionally, good two-way flow of information between sellers and buyers is essential.

Top tips on contracts for sellers of cereals and oilseeds

Available in print

2022 edition available from mid-June.

Order a printed copy

Grain sampling opportunities

How to sample grain safely

Videos from Frontier (based on AHDB grain sampling guidance)

Grain sampling: The importance of doing it safely and efficiently on farm