GREAT FALLS - Harvest season in Montana is in full swing and with that comes grading of annual crops produced.
The Montana State Grain Laboratory is crucial in ensuring that Montana pulse and cereal crops receive a fair grade in the world market.
“The role of the grain lab really starts with the Federal Grain Inspection Service under the USDA that was created to enable the implementation of fair grain sales across the world,” explained Montana State Grain Lab Director Dan Reimer.
Peas, mustard, grain, and everything in between comes through the lab in a straightforward process.
It begins with separating samples to a desired weight, following that, the lab tests for moisture and cleans each sample from any underlying debris, and it heads to the lab for individual grading.
“What we're looking for in peas is defects and damages, overall quality of the grain, more or less, any type of cracks on the coats, we see as a defect,” said Agency Quality Assurance Specialist Adam Gutzwiler.
That grading process is universal throughout the United States and it plays a role in how producers are offered a fair market price for their product.
“My job is to more or less look at the overall quality of the inspections, make sure that we're following FDA standards and trying to the best of our capability, guarantee quality grades and overall turnaround time," Gutzwiler explained.
According to Gutzwiler, the Montana State Grain Lab is seeing a lot of positives when it comes to this season’s harvest.
In Eastern Montana, peas are back to normal size and some areas are still ridden with grasshopper infestations.
A decrease in certain areas has been a major sigh of relief for Winter Wheat farmers who are seeing a better crop than in years past.
“We’ve had over 700 samples we processed last week, which is typical for an entire month in the off-season, like April or May,” Reimer said.
As the samples continue to flow in, farmers should be happy with how this year’s harvest has produced.
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