Delivery of Grain – Sampling Methods used by U.S. Elevators

What sampling methods are used by U.S. grain elevators when receiving grain by truck?

U.S. elevators typically use a probe sample prior to unloading or a hand sample while unloading to sample grain received from trucks at the elevator.

Typically, when Canadian grain arrives by truck at a local U.S. elevator, an “unofficial” grain sample (that is, taken by an individual not licensed by USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS)) will be taken from the truck either by probe or an end-gate sample.   The sample will typically be tested for dockage, test weight, moisture and protein.  More tests may or may not be done depending on the physical appearance of the sample and the relevant conditions of the crop year.  For example, if conditions have been conducive to sprout damage, a falling numbers test may be done.  Likewise, a test for DON (vomitoxin) might be conducted if conditions warrant.  Other factors that could be graded include dark, hard vitreous, (DHV) damage, shrunken and broken kernels.  Elevators that load rail shuttles tend to have more sophisticated testing equipment, and in some cases “official” grain inspection agencies, designated by FGIS, may have a satellite office at some train loading stations.  Such offices are authorized by FGIS to make an official determination of all official U.S. grade factors.  Smaller elevators would typically send samples to a lab for falling number and DON tests.  All U.S. locations should be expected to grade according to U.S. factors and grading scales. Unless an “official” grain inspection agency is available, grade and factor determination will generally be conducted by personnel hired by the elevator.  If there is a question about a particular grade or factor within a grade, there may be an opportunity for a representative sample to be drawn and submitted to an “official” agency or some other qualified third party at a different location.  The delivering farmer should expect to pay a reasonable fee for the “official” grade determination.  (Specific rights regarding grade determination may vary by state and Canadian farmers should become familiar with their rights and obligations under various state laws.  Links to some of these laws are included in the answer to question 2-d above)

USDA/FGIS official inspection agencies can be located at this website:

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