WSU Extension Q&A: Different ways to measure moisture in hay

May 16, 2013 

Q. With the Memorial Day holiday just around the corner, do you have any suggestions for making sure the food served at barbeques and picnics won’t cause foodborne illness?

A. The critical step for keeping people from getting sick at any gathering is to control the temperature of the food being served. This is especially true for foods considered potentially hazardous, which includes any animal products — raw or cooked, cooked vegetables, cooked starches (like pasta and rice) and cut melons. To keep food safe, keep cold foods below 40 degrees and hot foods above 140 degrees. Potentially hazardous foods should not be left between 40 to 140 degrees for more than two hours. When the outside temperature is more than 80 degrees, the food should be refrigerated within one hour.

Q. What are some varieties of asparagus I can grow in the Tri-Cities?

A. The most common are Jersey Giant, Mary Washington, Jersey Supreme and Jersey Knight

Q. My friend said I have San Jose scale on my apple tree. What is San Jose scale?

A. Scale insects are strange in that the females are mostly immobile and don’t appear to have a head or legs. They often look like little mounds. The males fly around and mate with the females. San Jose scale infests apples and sucks on the plant juices from the twigs, leaves and fruit.

Q. What are the different ways of measuring moisture in hay?

A. The following methods are ranked from most to least accurate with error enclosed within the parentheses:

-- convection oven drying (plus to minus one percent)

-- microwave oven drying (minus 2 percent to plus 1 percent)

-- Koster tester and near infrared reflectance spectroscopy, NIRS (plus to minus 3 percent)

-- electronic probe (plus to minus 5 percent)

Moisture is not uniform in wind-rows, bales or stacks. Regardless of the procedure used, 12 to 20 random samples are necessary to determine forage moisture. The electronic probe has the advantage of allowing for many samples done quickly. For more information, go to

-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.

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