Tips for Growing Green Fodder

wheat fodder300.jpgYou’ve longingly viewed the pictures of lush, green fodder that you see in ads & in posts online. Others are growing this for their animals & you know you can, too. Last week I posted about how I grow fodder. It is a simple concept, but success depends on temperature & moisture. There are a few things that can go wrong & cause your fodder to flop.

Improper Watering

This is often the biggest problem, especially if you are watering by hand. I water twice each day & then tip the trays so the excess runs off. Too much water sitting in the trays causes the grain to smell bad. Too much moisture can also cause mold. Check the holes in the fodder trays & add more if necessary.

wimpy fodder300.jpgMissing one watering in a week’s cycle usually doesn’t cause big problems. Missing more than one can result in sparse germination & the fodder can develop a foul odor. I am careful about feeding this & look closely for mold.

If your grain seems dry between waterings then you may need to add an additional one. Forced air & wood stoves are drying so position your fodder growing system away from vents & stoves. Some people grow fodder in spare bathrooms where a water source is easy to access. The door can be closed & the heat vent adjusted to keep the room from becoming too warm.


The optimal temperature is 64-70 degrees. I grow mine in the basement with the thermostat set at 66. This works fine until the summer months when it becomes too warm for the fodder to grow properly. At higher temps, the grain ferments and the fodder growth stalls. Once we have pasture, I don’t grow it for the sheep. I would like to continue on for the rabbits, however. I’ll be experimenting to find the best way to keep it growing during hot weather. We don’t have air conditioning and the addition of a small unit might be necessary to keep the grass growing.


Washing the trays & buckets will keep bacteria from building up. I’ve had good luck with hot water alone. Sometimes I use soap or bleach on the buckets. Greenhouse flats have grooves that collect debris so may need to be washed more thoroughly.

Presoak the Grain

The grain should be started 24 hours before spreading in the tray. I soak the grain for 8-12 hours & then drain until it is time to load the tray. Some people soak for less time & some for more. This takes a little fiddling around with depending on the grain used.

Root Gnats

You begin to find small flying insects around your trays. Nope those aren’t fruit flies, they’re root gnats. They are a common greenhouse problem. One way to get rid of them is to make your own fly paper. Coat yellow or orange pieces of construction paper with mucilage. It remains tacky for some time. Place them close to the areas you notice the bugs.

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Tips for Growing Green Fodder — 11 Comments

  1. Thank you for this information and your blog. I’m on my 3rd batch of trying to make fodder that doesn’t mold. Glad I found your blog. I’ve tipped my containers up for better drainage, so I hope it works.

  2. Another thing, is make holes in the lower front of the tray so when it is tipped the water can easily run out. I know it is discouraging to keep having that problem.

  3. I have lots of holes, it seems the mold doesn’t show up until the 4th day. I’m wondering if my trays have to high of a side? They are plastic drawers.

  4. You may be right; there isn’t enough air circulating. I grow fodder for the rabbits in those plastic shoe boxes that are 4 1/2″ tall. Are your drawers deeper than that?

  5. I have to give it to you. This is indeed a detailed and an informative post! For people who haven’t tried growing a green fodder, this is your guide to growing a good one. I’m an enthusiast when it comes to growing different plants as well. I hope you keep up the good work, and I will definitely incorporate some of your techniques with mine.

  6. Hello! Mohammad in Pakistan I’ve seen some installation with hefty price tags to grow Fodder. The temps here run in the 90s+. And at room-temp it didn’t work for me. I am thinking of getting see-through refrigerator usually used to cool soda bottles and setting the thermostat for temps between 65-70 for experimentation. Can anyone give me any suggestions or tips if this will work. Additionally if someone can tell me watering frequency. Thank you.

  7. Some people have an air-conditioned room or have enclosed a corner of a room & control the temperature of that small space with a small air conditioner.
    The refrigerator seems like a creative & smart solution. Air circulation might be a problem. But then, I’ve seen some commercial systems that looked like pretty small trailers filled with fodder.
    Here is a link to a forum I’ve found extremely helpful, Mohammad. You can ask questions there & probably get a variety of responses.
    Good luck & let us know how it works.

  8. I have a soda refer that I have converted to grow fodder. The one thing you have to do is change the thermostat to be able to raise the temp as they are set to stay around 35 degrees. then automating the watering is best 20 secs. every hour. this is basically what the IGRO system is.

  9. RE: MOLD:
    I have a small commercial set up I bought from Farm Tek and have it set up in an insulated feed room in my barn. For mold control, I turn off the water 36 hours before I feed it to my horses and the mold has reduced to almost non existent. I also spray my sprouts daily with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water (about 10-12 % peroxide to water). I do not spray before they sprout from seeds and do not spray the day before I am feeding. I soak my seeds (barley and black sunflower seeds) for 18 to 24 hours in a bucket of water that has 2 aeraters that make bubbles and move the water constantly. I had used a weak bleach solution before getting then. I rinse my trays with cold water, run a sponge on the bottom, and rinse again with a small amt of chlorine and water.

  10. Thanks for the info, Spencer. It sounds like you have mold under control. The trays that you are going to feed next don’t get water for 1 1/2 days? The fodder mat doesn’t begin to heat up?