Agronomy II (Growing Grain Crops)

Course CodeBAG309
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study Grain Crop Production - cereals, pulses and pseudocereals

Grain crops are are grown to produce seeds for human or animal consumption. Cereals are the most common grain crops (produced from grasses). Others include pseudocereals.

Crops are grown under a wide variety of different climatic and soil conditions. For success though, it is important to match the conditions with the type of grain grown.

Large scale production of grains is carried out around the world on very large farms, with a high degree of mechanisation. Much of the world's staple foods are produced this way. This is by no means the only way grains can be grown.

In this course, you'll learn about:

  • the right time to harvest
  • growth cycles
  • storage
  • how to provide adequate soil nutrition
  • seed bed preparation

Note: Some seed crops may also be processed to produce oils. This course largely excludes crops that are grown primarily for oil production.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Grains (Cereals)
    • Production of Crops in Different Climates and Ecological Zones
    • Climate
    • Soil
    • Aspect and Altitude
    • Crop Growing Periods and Growing Degree Days
    • Cropping Season as Affected by Moisture Availability
    • World Cropping
    • Cereal Crop Growth Stages, including jointing, booting, grain fill stages, and the Zadok Scale
    • Grain Types: wheat, barley, sorghum, oats, rice, corn, canola, pulses, and more
    • Production Systems: crop rotation, cover crops, crop islands
  2. Grain Growing and Processing: Infrastructure and Machinery
    • Equipment Requirements
    • Choosing A Tractor and Accessories
    • Equipment and Tools Used in Different Crop Production Operations
    • Tillage
    • Seed
    • Certified and Saved Seed
    • Seed Production
    • Planting, Other Crops
    • Production Operations
    • Irrigation Equipment
    • Crop Lodging
    • Harvest: cereal harvesting equipment, threshers, combined harvester thresher, cleaning
    • Grain Storage
    • Silos and Silo Bags
    • Bunkers
    • Insect Pest Control in Grain Storage
  3. Wheat, Spelt, Tritosecale, Oats, Barley, Rye
    • Wheat and Spelt
    • Tritosecale
    • Oats>
    • Barley
    • Rye - Winter and Spring Rye
  4. Maize, Sorghum and Millet
    • Maize
    • Sorghum
    • Millet
  5. Rice
    • Rice (Oryza Spp.)
    • Cultivars
    • Commonly Cultivated Varieties of Rice
    • Grain Type
    • Colour: Brown Vs White, Different Varieties for Eating
    • Cultivation
    • Environmental Overview
    • Altitude
    • Water
    • Irrigating Rice
    • Rainfed and Terrace Systems
    • Crop Health and Diseases
    • Harvest
    • Ratooning
    • Rice-Wheat Systems
  6. Pulses
    • Soybeans
    • Pidgeon Peas (Congo Beans)
    • Lima Beans
    • Cowpeas
    • Mung Beans
    • Chick Peas
    • Lentils
    • Faba Beans
    • Field Peas (Green Peas)
  7. Pseudo Cereals
    • Chia
    • Quinoa
    • Amaranth
    • Buckwheat
    • Sesame Seed
  8. Processing Grains for Human Consumption
    • Post-Harvest
    • Processing
    • Drying
    • Morphologically Determining Moisture Content
    • Portable Moisture Meters
    • Simple Drying Test to Determine Moisture
    • Types of Drying, Natural Drying, Heat-Drying
    • Storage
    • Aerating and Cooling
    • Moisture Content in Stored Grain
    • Treatment During Storage
    • Mechanical Treatments
    • Grain Processing for Consumption
    • Hulling
    • Wheat
    • Processing
    • Cleaning and Scouring
    • Tempering
    • Grinding/Milling of
    • Wheat
    • Blending and Final Production of Flours
    • Extraction Rate
    • Processing Maize (Corn)
    • Processing Rice
    • Processing Oats
    • Processing Pseudo grains - Quinoa and Amaranth
    • Fortifying Foods
  9. Grains for Livestock Consumption
    • Differences Between Crops for Human Consumption and Those for Animal Consumption
    • C3 And C4 Grasses
    • C3 Plants
    • C4 Plants
    • Legume Forage
    • Mixed Grass and Legume Forages
    • Nutrient-Dense
    • Forages and Forage Quality
    • Forage Maturity and Nutritional Value
    • Forage Quality
    • Palatability and Taste
    • Intake
    • Digestibility
    • Nutrient Density
    • Anti-Nutritional Factors
    • Livestock Performance and Growth
    • Specific Forage, Feed and Grass Types
    • Feeding and Ration
    • Calculations


  • Classify important existing and emerging grains or cereals grown around the world and explain the production systems both large and small scale, used for growing, harvesting and storing grains in different countries.
    • Describe important farm structures, equipment, vehicles, supplies and natural resources required for successful production of cereal/grain crops.
    • Describe and compare the properties and production systems of the major ‘cool season’ cereals, namely: wheat, triticale, spelt, barley, oats and rye.
    • Describe and compare the properties and production systems of the major ‘warm season’ cereals, namely: maize, sorghum and millet.
    • Describe the four main broad habitats where rice is grown and explain the variety of production systems used within these different habitats.
    • Explain and compare the production systems and uses of important cool and warm season pulse crops grown around the world.
    • Describe production of ‘non-grasses’ that are existing or emerging as important‘cereals’, such as chia, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat.
    • Explain post harvest storage and processing methods used for cereals for human consumption and examine the various sales procedures used.
    • Describe the production of important warm and cool season grasses used for forage and stock feed.
    • Describe the storage, processing and sale of cereals used for livestock and demonstrate the calculation of some sample stock rations.

Start Date: Start at any time - study at a pace that suits you, and with full tutor support for the duration of your studies.


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

A combine harvester is a machine that harvests grain crops and it usually combines three separate operations: reaping, threshing, and winnowing into a single process.

Reaping is the physical cutting of the crop. In harvesters, usually the crop is gathered in by the header at the front of the harvester and a slowly rotating wheel (pickup-reel) pushes the crops down towards the cutter bar. This often has teeth which open/close repeatedly to cut the crop off at the base. The cut crops are fed to the centre by spinning augers and travel up a conveyor. A thresher (drum) beats the crops to break them and the grain is shaken off; the grain then falls through sieves into a collecting tank (winnowing) and the chaff is released through the back of the machine by a spreader or it can be baled up.   

These processes can also be done by separate machines or by hand in smallholder farming systems. A thresher can also be a standalone piece of equipment on smaller farms without harvesters. It works by beating the plant to make the seeds fall out. Winnowing separates the loosened chaff from the grain, often by a process of lifting the grains up and allowing them to fall with a current of fair which carries away the lighter chaff allowing the heavier grain to fall downwards. Once winnowed, the grain can be dried and stored. It can then be processed when required.  When the grain reaches primary processing, the steps may vary some – rice, for instance, is often hulled then sold without milling.



Obviously anyone who manages or works on a farm that grows grain can benefit from this course.  It can also benefit others who work in support of the grain industry. 

Businesses that supply goods or services to the grain industry will benefit by having a deeper understanding of how grain is grown and harvested. Anyone who studies, teaches, researches or  writes about farming may need to deepen or broaden their understanding of grain production, and for such people, this course can be ideal for professional development.

We have had all sorts of people from diverse backgrounds undertaking our agronomy courses - Talk to us about your situation and discover how we can help you.



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