Fodder Growing: What molds may come

06-04-13 Fodder with problems in heat 001Sprouting Barley Fodder mats for our herd is primarily intended to support their winter dietary needs here at Paca Pride Guest Ranch. Our animals may be off pasture for as long as 6 months until Mother Nature cues the pastures to grow long enough to graze again.  So, as our Springtime arrives and we start our pattern of rotational grazing with the herd, the need for sprouting barley fodder declines.  In fact, as our animals come back from grazing with full bellies, they are less inclined to finish off the entire mat, taking only the sprouts and leaving the roots. So, come Springtime, along with the rising temps, comes the cycle down of our fodder room.  This season, however, saw the confluence of a couple of factors that kept our fodder room operating longer than anticipated and in hotter conditions than the ideal.  Part of the reason to keep our fodder room going was offering classes on Microgreens production to the public, and having the visual to show them. Mother Nature usually complies by keeping our PacNorWest Spring temps on the cooler side, but not this year! March, April, and May have seen some spectacular days much warmer than the norm. Thus, Mother Nature conspired against us in keeping our fodder room at our ideal temp between 60-65F degrees. Our temps having been ranging up to 84F as the high in the room…yikes!  But again, our intent is only to use the fodder feeding strategy during our off-pasture season, cutting our winter hay use in half and assuring good herd health through the winter. If I wanted to produce fodder all year long, I’d be adding some sort of A/C unit to cool the room right now.

06-04-13 Fodder with problems in heat 002With that said, the final trays in our system have brought forth the learning opportunity to see what can go wrong during the delicate dance of creating a live sprout and the decay of the discarded seed hull. Quite simply, it’s the invasion of the molds!  Looks can be deceiving. In this picture of a tray ready to harvest, we see what looks like a fairly awesome fodder mat. But it’s really the seed bed, in-between the roots and the sprouts, and where the hulls are at, that we need to take a closer look. 06-04-13 Fodder with problems in heat 003

In this picture, one can observe a few things.  First, notice that the root mat is not too thick. When temps rise up, the plant focuses more energy on the sprout than the roots, so weaker root mats result, and along with that, more fermentation (because yeasts are activated at higher temps too). Fermentation inhibits germination, so you’ll also notice some grain seeds in the root mat are not sprouting. Finally, there’s evidence of the molds. The obvious one in this picture is a white fuzzy mold. This is most likely Aspergillus, a storage mold that comes along with the barley in the grain bags.06-04-13 Fodder with problems in heat 008

A closer look reveals that this mold tends to spread among the sprouts and starts to cause some brown spots and darkening the color of the seed hull.  It’ll spread down into the roots and start turning them brown which leads to root rot.


06-04-13 Fodder with problems in heat 006

Note the dingy and dark color of the seed bed. Dark colored seed hulls are an indication that the decay rate has quickened. During our normal operating parameters, we should be harvesting fodder mats whose seed beds still look bright and beige in color. watering methods that pour water into a tray through the seed bed tend to quicken the decay rate of the hulls through agitation. A true flood-and-drain watering method will minimize this by introducing the water at the bottom of the tray and filling from the bottom upwards.

06-04-13 Fodder with problems in heat 009

In this picture you can truly see the seed hulls darkening. Also, there is the onset of another type of mold.  These blue or green molds are similar to your common household molds you see on old bread. They tend to cluster around a seed hull and are fairly easy to identify given the bright and distinguishing color.  Notice also how the roots in this picture appear slimy and mushy.  The smell is also starting to move from fermenting smelling to septic smelling. It’s more astringent and sharp, and slightly foul. This is a sign that bacteria is starting to trigger into high gear.

06-04-13 Fodder with problems in heat 011

Again you’ll notice that the blue/green molds tend to start around a seed hull and slowly expand from there. This picture is evidence of something we do not want to have our animals ingesting on a regular basis if they are eating the seed bed and roots. This becomes a mycotoxin poison vector that can cause cumulative damage to kidneys and livers.

06-04-13 Fodder with problems in heat 017

Flip the mat over and look at the bottom, you can begin to see the discoloration among the roots.  What should be bright white is now turning a dingy brown. Root Rot is setting in.  In normal operations, another type of root rot is sometimes seen as a circular patch in the roots among an otherwise perfectly looking fodder mat that shows no signs of molds. That can be caused by a different disease, affecting the roots only, called Pythium. It’s still a fungal based outbreak, but when seen as a circular patch only in the roots, can be removed from the mat and fed to animal with little concern.06-04-13 Fodder with problems in heat 018

Our final observation is in the water remaining in the tray. If the internet had Smell-O-Vision, you’d cringe a bit. Unlike smelling fresh bread rising or beer fermenting, this water is turning septic due to the tipping point favoring bacteria. It’s cloudiness is more than just the starch solutes released upon germination. It includes some bio-slimy concoctions that can be seen as swirls of white within the cloudy water. Water that looks this cloudy upon harvest is a clue of something going wrong, but ever before the visual inspection, it’s the smell that will give it away.

06-04-13 Fodder with problems in heat 023So here’s the final rub in all this: whether or not to feed this mat to my animals.  If we were in the middle of winter, when the herd would consume the entire mat, roots, seed bed, and sprouts, I’d be discarding this mat.  But, in this case, I’ve got some full-bellied alpacas who are only biting off the green sprouts and leaving the root mat and seed bed behind.  So, after a quick session of nibbling the sprouts off, I remove the remains of the mat and take them out to cover a mossy spot in the pasture where, as you can see, the flock of garbage disposers, aka chickens, quickly descend upon it to salvage any prize morsels they want.  Chickens can handle this level of moldiness, but, much will remain in the pasture as needed organic matter to mulch out the moss.

Here’s a bonus wiki for you to explore and learn more than you ever wanted to know about diseases that can affect barley:

About David

Making manifest the change I want to see in the world through the hospitality of a humble little homestead campground with yurts and alpacas.
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44 Responses to Fodder Growing: What molds may come

  1. Shane says:

    Have you considered putting a little hyrdogen peroxide in the water to kill off the contaminates? You can get a formula that is designed for that purpose of fighting root rot from gardening or hydroponic stores.

    • David says:

      When growing under the proper conditions, it is not necessary to treat the irrigation water as there is no problem with molds. It’s only under the circumstances described above that molds do occur.

      Prevention of molds trumps treatment for molds; making use of additional products, like H2O2, unnecessary. We prevent molds primarily by controlling our grow temps and humidity. I could easily prevent the molds above by adding an air cooling unit to the room in order to continue production. For those needing to grow through hotter months, this is necessary.

      But, again, it is not necessary for us as our season for growing fodder coincides with the colder months of the year (my challenge is warming the room not cooling it). My reasons for continuing production during these recent warmer months were for demonstration purposes only: both to show a fodder room in operation AND to show what happens when things go wrong. (I was fully expecting the molds to show up. It’s actually a good ‘system stress test’ to find the parameters of suitable and unsuitable conditions for my grow space.)

      Luckily, we don’t need fodder when pastures are available to graze. 🙂

      • Shane says:

        I agree with your philosphy that its better to fix the problem than treat the symptoms. I was interested in testing this as I ran barely fodder last winter “inspired by you” to supplement my rabbit feed and would like to try it this summer as well. The cost of AC could eat up the savings fodder provides so I was trying to think of a possible solution that is nontoxic and cheap. You might be able to get away with only one or two treatments to prevent the outbreaks.

      • David says:

        If you are not going to control your environmental temperatures, then you’ll absolutely need a treatment plan like you are suggesting. However, I highly recommend that fodder producers growing in hot conditions invest in a heat pump or A/C unit to get the temp down to where you need to manage it. Also focus on properly insulating the grow room so as to control the expense of doing so.

        With that said, you will not be able to “prevent” outbreaks of mold with treatments of any sort in less than ideal growing conditions. You’ll only be able to try and “treat” the outbreaks or minimize their impact. The challenge however is one of managing mycotoxin presence and the cumulative damage they can do. It takes higher temps and higher humidity conditions for molds to establish and start producing mycotoxins.

        Here’s the dilemma: Even by treating a tray for any sort of mold outbreak does not necessarily mean that the Mycotoxin vector has been eliminated. If there was molds in the tray, then there is the possibility of mycotoxins. Treat the molds with H2O2 or other items and the molds may be eliminated, but the mycotoxin presence may not be.

        Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of fungi that are toxic. In other words, you can treat for molds, but the mycotoxins that get produced are residues that “stick” around. If your treatment plan addresses treating for the presence of molds as they occur, then you are already falling behind. Thus, a treatment plan must be effective at suppressing mold outbreaks completely; kudos to you for recognizing the need to “prevent” vs. “treat”. However, I’ve yet to experience an effective method that suppresses mold outbreaks at higher grow temperatures for a bio-intensive grow, i.e. dense seed sprouting that is a fodder mat application.

        Again, in my example pictures above, there is definitely a Mycotoxin presence. But, I am not letting my animals consume the entire fodder mat, just the green sprouts and the seed bed and root mat was then removed from their feeders. For my situation, it also help that most ruminants are the least sensitive to Mycotoxin poisoning. So my risk for feeding them just the sprout portions is very low. Further lower the risk is the fact that this is not occurring during my winter feeding, so there is never a build-up of mycotoxins in the animals over time.

  2. ardelle peters says:

    Have you noticed much difference in your seed. We have had some batches that were great to germinate and others that didn’t germinate and we have had some that have broader leaves or more root mass. Now we are confused about whether it is temperature or seeds that are the problem or both. I am wondering if storing seeds longer will make more problems?

    • David says:

      I have not noticed too much variability within the viability of the seed I’m getting. It all germinates pretty well. But then again, I’m getting “field run” or “Combine run” seed; used by farmers generally to plant the next season’s crop. Some of the seed that is sold in bags as “feed” or to millers to make flour may have a lower viability rate.

      One aspect about temperature control is that the ideal grow room temps and humidity will vary based upon your local conditions. My ideal is between 60-65F degrees. But, in the more southern states, they could probably get away with an average of 70F (+-5F) and be fine given that their local yeasts and bacterias are different than what I have in a colder climate.

      If you do have a higher norm, then take note that you have to shorten your soak times. You may not be able to do a full 24 hour soak without affecting germination rates. I’m able to get away with a 24hour soak because my gorw temps are kept lower. It’s like making oatmeal: you use boiling water to make it under a minute, but if you used cold water, it’d probably take a full hour to soften to the same consistency. So, warmer growing conditions may over-starch your grain during the soak procedure.

      I also recommend measuring and tracking your temperature and humidity using a couple digital gauges that come with remote sensors (you can buy online). I place the remote sensors towards the lower back and upper back of my shelves and the gauges are mounted in the front of the shelves (I’ve installed two different temp gauges to measure things) Be sure that you don’t see a differential in temperature in your grow space from the lower trays to the upper trays. If there is you may need to add a circulating fan to the room.

      • ardelle peters says:

        We are in southern Minnesota. We found our best results at 68 degees and yes, we do need the fans to keep temps the same on upper and lower trays. We have soaked 24 hours in bleach water solution. I think your 12 hour soak might help. Our water floods from the end of the tray, 2 minutes every 2 hours with a 6″ slope on 12 feet, about 2.5 gal/day per tray, a little different than what you use I believe. We didn’t have much problem until May. One week of temps in the 80’s and also blizzard conditions, so very extreme temp. changes. I didn’t have air conditioning so just tried to cool things at night as best as we could and the problems started and haven’t really improved so we shut down this week.
        Our seed is for planting and comes from Canada. We have had the best germination if it has a tested germination rate of >90% When we used a lower rate we really had nothing but rotten seed and very poor germination. We even had something red that grew in it?!! We are thinking we should switch to wheat for warmer weather. Have you tried that to know if it would do better?

      • David says:

        Then it does sound more like your environmental conditions versus seed quality. IMHO, Barley vs. wheat will provide little difference in performance for a sprouting application. The same rules still apply: control your environment for ideal sprouting conditions with either.

  3. Shane says:

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions I really appreciate it. I have read up a little on mycotoxins specifically concerning coffee beans and its a seriously under appreciated health risk. I know with my rabbits and goats if their fodder, pellets, or hay have ever been exposed to mosisture after curing they will not eat it.
    You have inspired me to start up the fodder trays again and I will try a few experiments. I am thinking of trying a few different locations, the pump house, greenhouse, and outdoors maybe in the orchard to see if airflow may have an effect. I live just north Bellingham, Wa so our climates are comparable perhaps I can get some experimental data to further the fodder experiment. Have you ever tried sproating wheat, clover, or alfalfa to see if they have greater resistance to mold?

    • David says:

      Considering you are relatively close to us, you may want to come down for a visit! We do offer a “Fodder Primer”, a 2 hour training, here at Paca Pride, for a fee. (email us at for more details)

      I’ve not experimented with some of the smaller seed types (clover and such). Barley is quite simply the best suited to this sprouting application and has a great nutritional profile. So, it works.

      With regard to locations, just remember that a sprouting operation really demands a space dedicated to it. If you place it in a greenhouse with other plants and such, it will have problems. A dedicated, clean space, controlled for its environmental variables is paramount to a successful sprouting operation.

      • Shane says:

        I would really like to come down with my family and stay in one of your yurts this summer or perhaps early fall. I raise livestock for a living so getting away in the growing season is extreamly difficult, although, I definately need to schedule a break for the family.

      • David says:

        We’re open all year long, so, even a stay in snowy winter time is possible. 🙂

  4. Kristin says:

    Still have mold! Put in air conditioning, got the temps down around 65 but humidity is still fluttering between 70-80%. I dumped a few trays today that I continued growing just to get the joy of green fodder. It had been on the rack for 7 days. It had a few different molds in it, and several seed had not sprouted. Makes me think possibly the barley again. Or is there a way the spores from the infected trays would travel from the lower racks to other racks? We r draining on a slant with 4 holes drilled in the lowest part of the cut tray (will be upgrading to Ebb&flow fittings soon) fresh water dispersed at the rear of the tray every 4 hours during daylight.

    • Shane says:

      Your going to need to bring down your humidity about 20% to stop the mold. I would switch to twice a day waterings and see what effect that has. With that high of a humidity level I seriously doubt your fodder will dry out. A dehumidifier would do the trick as well, but they can suck down a lot of power so it might not be cost effective. Another tool that would help would be a sulfur burner.

      • Kristin says:

        sulfur burner… sounds stinky! we will be trying the dehumidifier or we will just shut down until the weather straightens up I guess. The only positive is that we do have a couple beef cows and 4-h pigs that are really enjoying the spoils. Main objective to the whole fodder idea was to help supplement the horses with fresh greens since we down sized from 120 acres to 6 acres, and essentially NO PASTURE 😦 I do thank everyone for their help and espically Dave for planting the seed in my head and the step by step guidance on this page!!

  5. Sam Rochester says:

    I’m not sure if I should be posting my questions here as I’m new to this site. However, I will ask them and please direct me to the appropriate place otherwise.
    I’m new to raising cows, sheep, ducks and rabbits and I’ve tried to search for the answers on the web with no success. I have been assigned on a philanthropic mission to help poor communities in Africa/Mideast. The gift to those communities is a simple yet productive barley grass hydroponic system? I’m not sure why I’ve been assigned an agricultural mission as my specialty is Law. However, no complaints as this ruin the core purpose of philanthropy.

    Here are my questions:

    1. I’ve read that it is not appropriate to feed the above animals barley grass alone all year round? If barley grass is considered pasture-green grass- all year round and the above mentioned animals’ main food is grass so how could this be explained? In fact barley grass fodder is more than grass ie. roots and grain.

    2. Is there a way to preserve barley grass if production exceeds consumption? Can barley grass be dried? and if so, will it be considered as a substitute for dry hay?

    3. Will barley grass soaked in bleach affect human consumption, eg barley grass juice?

    Thanks for everyone and wish you the best


    Sam Rochester

    • David says:

      Hi Sam,

      Here are my answers:
      1) One should not rely on barley fodder micro-greens (or practically any other sprouts as well) as the solitary source of food for the animal. What barley fodder provides is energy, protein, high digestibility, and palatability. However, it completely lacks fiber. Fiber is a most important part of the diet for ruminants. Feeding barley fodder does cut down the need for hay, by up to half, as compared to a diet of hay and pellets(a very “dry” diet).

      Perhaps an important distinction to point out here is that barley “grass” is not the same thing as barley “sprouts”. What is in the field is a completely different, and better, product: natural forage, grasses. A Barley Sprouting Application is producing sprouts; the initial phase of a grain’s life cycle which takes full advantage of the enzymatic action converting starches to proteins, producing a live plant that is up to 90% digestible and available to the animals as nutrition, along with another very important component too, water. Sprouting is done in a soilless medium, just a grow tray and water, thus the whole end product gets consumed: roots, seed hulls, and sprouts.

      2) The only preservation of a barley fodder mat would be short term refrigeration. It is a fresh live product with a number of benefits. If it were dried you would simply have “hay”; but not very nutritious hay, much would need to be consumed.

      3) A Soaking Procedure which uses a dilution of bleach to sanitize the grain hulls, prior to spreading them in a grow tray, will not affect animal nor human consumption. Indeed, with a proper juicer, humans can juice barley sprouts too. In fact, most of the sprouts found in the grocery stores typically start with a bleach sanitizing process prior to being sprouted.

  6. Sam Rochester says:

    Thank you David for taking the time and effort to answer me promptly, you’ve been extremely helpful. I am happy that I finally found an answer. I think I might introduce a 50/50 ration then gradually increase hydroponically grown barley to 70%-I’ve read that they feed their sheep newspapers, plastic bags and cardboard when there is not enough fodder. I might then explore alternatives to hay ie. maybe locally grown vegetables with high fiber content. I am happy to hear any info. or experience you might have regarding this last comment.

    Again, thank you.



  7. Muriuki says:

    Hi Shane
    Kindly do explain this statement: ” A true flood-and-drain watering method will minimize this by introducing the water at the bottom of the tray and filling from the bottom upwards.” It sounds like exaclty what I need! Could you give me more details or pointers as to how to set up this?

    • David says:


      That statement sums up the approach we use within our system. Our grow trays do NOT require tilting.
      The design of them allows water to fall into the lowest channels which are directed to the drain.
      This allows irrigation to occur such that it fills the tray via a tube that descends into the tray and meets the inside bottom.
      It fills up the tray, which automatically starts to drain at the same time. Because there are seeds blocking the drain cap, this slows the water down so that it slowly backs up within the tray and rises to a designated point: just covering newly germinating seeds.
      The irrigation then stops and the tray proceeds to empty completely.
      It is called a “true flood and drain, or ebb and flow, approach, because water is rising in the tray then draining away; unlike a waterfall/cascade style or NFT style approach which tends to water at one end of a tilted grow tray and lets it run through and drain off the other end.
      See our other articles on this blog for more information on how we set this up.

    • Shane says:

      David’s approach is the most appropriate method in my opinion for a drain to waste. Conventional Ebb and Flow typically uses a reservoir to recycle nutrients which fodder does not use. Also recycling water in general is a no no with Fodder do to contamination. In any case the way most ebb and flow systems work is a tray with two holes in it, one hole is attached to a pump and is level to the bed of the tray. The second hole is a drain with risers on it to a level just short of the top of the tray. When the pump initiates typically on a timer it pumps water into the tray until it over flows the riser drain pipe. When the pump cycles off the water will reverse through the pump back into the reservoir.

  8. raymond says:


    David a been looking for some answeres regarding how to prevent molds whe we try to produce fodder i´m located in Guadalajara , mexico and some of the envyroment conditions here are a little bit diferent the yours, What about some organic repelents to prevent molds or other pest

    • David says:

      When it comes to mold control, the first order of attack is controlling the environment: temperature control is paramount.
      If your grow space rises above 70F, then it is a given that molds will take hold upon the decaying seed hulls.
      The second order of attack is cleanliness: pre-sanitizing your seed in a chlorine water solution is the most effective approach, however, others prefer to try Apple Cider Vinegar or Hydrogen peroxide. I prefer chlorine bleach in the soak water. Along with pre-sanitization of your seed, cleanliness of your grow space is important as well. Isolate your grow system from other plants, dirt, or sources of fungal, yeast, and mold spores is critical. A grow system that shares a space with other applications will see more propensity for molds.
      The third order of attack can come from adding some supplements in the form of probiotics or beneficial microbes to the grow trays during their grow cycle. Probiotics may assist in keeping molds from gaining a toehold. I have not yet had enough experience in this approach to make a conclusion, but I am in the process of experimenting with a spray bottle solution of water and Probios powder sprayed daily on grow trays to seed the trays with beneficial bacteria. At a minimum, this serves the flora and fauna in the gut of my ruminants, at best I may see some benefit to the growing fodder mats and control of molds as well (but I do not really have any mold problems to speak of).

      When all is said and done, I do draw a distinguishing line between “prevention” vs. “treatment” of molds. Prevention is key. Treatment of a mold outbreak is not necessarily a solution. Indeed some who choose to treat a mold outbreak in a fodder mat with, say, a spray of hydrogen peroxide, a common enough approach, may see the elimination of signs of mold, however, there is not necessarily the elimination of the mycotoxins produced by the mold. Those are the substances that cause health problems in animals. One should always assess the risk level on mold outbreaks in a fodder mat when deciding whether or not to offer that mat as feed to their animals.

      • Melissa O'Leary says:

        I was having problems with white mold tufts. One morning, the thought came to me to try a garlic water spray (we have a garlic farm). I chunked about 4 cloves of garlic and put in a spray bottle full of water. I spray the trays once a day, and the mold has all but disappeared. I was pleasantly surprised, actually shocked! It may be worth a try. It works very well for us!

      • David says:

        The challenge with mold treatment is assuring that the mycotoxins produced from the molds are removed as well as the mold. A spray bottle solution may in fact be successful at mold control, but if a tightly knit root mat is not properly flushed, mycotoxins may still be present despite a treatment.

  9. M Hafner says:

    I’ve been experimenting with a fodder system, similar to the one Ardelle describes for the past couple of months. I am in Vermont. Basement temperatures are on the cool side. Though I have been using a small heater, the temp still is in the low 60’s. I didn’t have much problem with molds when I used wheat seeds, but with the oats, I am not getting good sprouting results and I have a lot of small white cottonball like mold growths. How dangerous is this to my goats’ health? Any suggestions? Would denser seeds when I spread the seeds make a difference? Should I be scouring with bleach or H2O2 before starting a new batch? You associate mold with higher temps, could it also be from lower temps – ie how imperative is a stronger heating unit? I don’t recall the humidity readings.

    • David says:

      First off, oats are notoriously difficult to adjust to a sprouting application. They tend to need a longer tail just to get them to germinate. Barley and Wheat tend to germinate at a much faster rate. Oats are also prone to poor threshing, meaning that some papery coverings still can be attached to the seed itself. More debris in additional to the hulls, which get discard upon germination, can act as more of a toehold for mold vectors.

      Pre-soak sanitization procedures are paramount to a good start in a sprouting application. If you suspect your seed source or quality you can try increasing the strength of bleach in the pre-soak. When I hear someone describing white molds developing, I immediately think of Aspergillus which is a storage mode that occurs in the bags of grain.

      All molds produce mycotoxins which can cause cumulative damage to kidneys and livers in ruminants over time. If mold is prevalent across a fodder mat, it should not be fed. Also, while some may believe that the can “treat” for a mold outbreak, by apply a spray mist of H2O2 for example, this does not necessarily eliminate the mycotoxins already produced by the mold. Prevention is needed over treatment. Assess all mold outbreaks to determine risk tolerance. One or two seed hulls that are just forming up some mold is very different that mold that has spread across patch or sections of a fodder mat.

      Molds definitely are triggered at higher temps, and temps for operating a fodder room will vary given your local conditions as well. Lower temps do not necessarily cause mold to form or outbreak, just the opposite. If molds are form at lower temps in your grow room, then I’d suspect there are other contamination vectors at play. Some vectors could be inherent in the system design itself with the style of irrigation or the design of trays and drainage. Some vectors may come from other sources, especially seen in those that have a “mixed use” environment, like when running a sprouting application in a kitchen, laundry room ,basement, or greenhouse (some of the worst places for mold and yeast spores).

  10. Richard Wood says:

    I know that you sell the trays that you use for your system, but did you build the rest, particularly the drainage part of the racks, or did you purchase it already built?

    • David says:

      Most all the infrastructure and irrigation to support the grow trays was made from salvaged materials.
      The nice part about these trays not requiring any tilting, is that you can design shelving that is flat and level for the trays to sit upon.

  11. osama says:

    very nice david.thaks for this information

  12. osama says:

    david .im from egypt where barly grass not widly used .and my experience in this feild is very limited .please help me to know more about barly grass .as ideal enviromental condition ,over come on moulds proplem,cost of barly room ,nutritional value of barly grass.and feeds used with barly grass to offer balance feed to animal ……………………………lastly very thanks for u.

    • David says:

      Be sure to read the other articles that are also published here on our blog. Some include comment threads that will answer most all of your questions.
      Thank you for your interest!

  13. osama says:

    thanks david

  14. Patricia Hurter says:

    I grow barley fodder (for horses) in a machine which is temperature controlled to 70C, and has an automatic misting system. I have been doing this for several years without any issues, and recently started getting a white fungus (I assume it’s fungus, not sure of the difference between fungus and mold) on the grass. We took everything out of the machine, sanitized everything with bleach, and started again, and it came back. The seed I have is relatively old (think I got it last fall, so it’s about a year old), so am thinking it’s coming from the seed. We currently soak about 1lb of seed in a bucket with water enough to cover the seed, and a capful of hydrogen peroxide, but that doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. From what you say above, sounds like dilute chlorine might be better for soaking, what strength of dilute chlorine do you use? i.e. how much chlorine per liter of water for example?
    p.s. Also you do know of any good sources for barley in New England? I currently geting it from an organic seed store in NY, but the price has doubled over the past few years, so it’s now $28 per 50lb bag, before shipping.

    • David says:

      One important aspect of a DIY sprouting application like this, are sanitization protocols of the grain seed. Start off with well sanitized seed, and you have the edge over mold control. However, molds can also come during the grow cycle from spores in the air as well. A very common mold with grain is Aspergillus, a storage mold of sorts that comes from grain stored in bags. It shows itself as a white fuzzy mold typically around the seed bed levels of the fodder mats (in particular, starting with the discarded seed hulls which start to decay upon germination.)

      Good seed sanitizing can generally kill off any mold or fungal spores on the hulls. We perform this with chlorine bleach for a number of reasons, but it is also most effective. 1 tablespoon per gallon of soak water is the general rule. H2O2 is not effective at sanitizing.

      Beyond that, be sure to filter any intake air to the room to prevent mold spores from enter the grow room. Good air filtration can assist preventing mold outbreaks as well. However, problems with fodder growing and mold control can also be introduced, or encouraged, by other components of the grow room as well, including types and style of irrigation and drainage. For example, a system that uses misting or sprayers to irrigate will have greater difficulty controlling the decay rate of the seed hulls than would a system that floods and drains, which doesn’t water the seed bed directly once the root mat is formed.

      Our source for seed is local/regional, do contact your University Extension Agent for assistance in locating seed suppliers in your area. Another online source for grain seed has been Azure Standard.

      • Patricia Hurter says:

        Thanks for the prompt reply. For the seed sanitization in chlorine bleach solution, would you leave it in that solution for the full soaking period (i.e. approx 12 hrs), or more briefly in that mixture and then switch to plain water?

      • David says:

        Soak times correlate with the ambient room temp. My grow room is kept around 60 +-5F and thus allows me a full 24 hour soak in the bleach water. If warmer in the room, closer to 70F, then shorter soak times are better, 4-12 hours. There is no need to change over to fresh water during the soak, as chlorine bleach is highly reactive and decays within 24 hours once in water.

  15. Pingback: Fodder Production: Further tips for successful sprouting | Paca Pride Guest Ranch

  16. Pingback: Fodder Growing: What molds may come | Paca Pride Guest Ranch | Wonders

  17. Emily says:

    I’ve been doing a small tray of fodder for poultry and dairy goats and with a new bag of seed developed mold issues. I’m going to start using bleach in the initial soak, once I start up again, but would it work to water occasionally with a really mild bleach solution or would that kill the sprouts too?

    • David says:

      Slightly chlorinated water should not impact sprouts growth. But the solution should not be strong. The caveat is that you need a fairly strong solution to impact mold outbreaks. I would recommend examining all other vectors first and getting control of them: cleanliness, system isolation, temperature controls, along with irrigation style can all contribute to mold control.

  18. Helen says:

    Hello David

    I have a commercial fodder system and a mould problem. I have turned the temperature down to 19 degrees celsius and switched the air con to dry (to decrease humidity). I have chlorine in the watering system. I cleaned the system with bleach yesterday. This is now the second time the problem has happened.

    I placed a different batch of seed at the bottom of the system. If this seed was “off” could the mould spread to other trays?

    Any other suggestions?

    Thanks for the great website.

    • David says:

      There are a lot of ‘if’s’ to unpack there to figure out your mold issues. However, more than likely, it’s probably temperature management, and your first call, to lower temps, is the correct one. Remember, that your ideal sprouting ‘pocket of operation’ can vary with the seasons. Something that works well during winter may perform poorly during summer, despite the system.
      Irrigation styles and drainage are two other components that could influence whether mold spreads. If recycling irrigation water, then yes, other trays could easily be contaminated. If your system is a cabinet-contained system that irrigates via spray/mister, then yes, that too can promote mold outbreaks and cross contamination.
      Seed quality can also be an issue, if older, dirty, seed is used.
      More than likely, given a commercial system, you are probably experiencing the common outbreak of white fluffy molds in the seed bed (between the roots and shoots where the discarded seed hulls reside in a mat). This is aspergillus mold, commonly a storage mold with grains. In a commercial system, other than lowering temps, you can also lower your seeding rate too. Remember that germination releases heat, the microclimate close to the seed bed will be significantly warmer than the ambient air. The more seed your add, the more you can incubate molds.

  19. Pingback: This Barn has a Secret! | Paca Pride Guest Ranch

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