Fresh plant material is generally dried in a forced-draught oven. Samples may be placed in aluminium trays with mesh in the base to allow circulation of air. Fairly dry herbage can be placed first into labelled manilla envelopes or brown paper bags, being careful not to let them touch the interior surfaces of the oven. For in vitro digestibility, the drying time at 80°C should not exceed 6 h. To avoid losses when determining fluoride and selenium, the temperature should not exceed 50°C, and for boron 60°C (in an unlined tray). Although a short drying time of 2 h at 102°C has been given for water-soluble carbohydrates (MAFF/ADAS, 1986b), we would only recommend freeze-drying (see below). Suggested drying conditions are given in Table 2.1. It should be noted that sample drying conditions are sometimes different from those used for dry-matter determinations, which are often more severe and for which a sub-sample is taken.

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