Stay in the green to reduce the risk of grain spoilage

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Your grain may have a higher moisture content than you might expect after a very dry summer, says an agronomist from Alberta Wheat and Alberta Barley.

“After a dry start and mid-season, late tillers appeared due to the late summer rains,” Jeremy Boychyn wrote in his Growing Point blog earlier this month ( “These late tillers increase the moisture in the harvested grain and can create storage hazards.”

The humidity and temperature of the grain as it enters the silo are the two key factors, and Boychyn notes that the Canadian Grain Commission has tables to determine the risk of spoilage.

In addition to the charts for grains, the board has charts for canola, peas, beans and mustard at (click on ‘Grain quality’, then on ‘Manage stored grains’ and ‘Manage storage to prevent infestations’ and finally ‘Prevent spoilage’).

They are divided into green and purple areas. Usually seeds that enter the bin at low temperature (like 5 ° C) fall into the green (safe) zone unless the moisture content is very high. But the risk increases rapidly at higher temperatures. It is recommended to measure both water content and temperature as the culture enters storage.

The storage risk profile for barley and canola is quite different.

Canadian Grain Commission

“If the result falls within the no-spoilage zone, then your crop should be safely stored for up to five months – six months in the case of wheat. If it falls into the deterioration zone, deterioration will occur, ”the website says.

However, there is a caveat.

“Be aware that the moisture content and temperature of a bulk can change during storage due to convection currents, resulting in localized spoilage,” the website says. “Monitor the top center of the bulk regularly throughout storage or use aeration. “

The Grains Commission website also contains information on monitoring and aeration of stored crops and preventing spoilage. (In addition to monitoring and controlling insects that can enter grain elevators.)

Grain “harvested at the ideal moisture range” can go straight into the bin (with some aeration if it needs to be cooled) but “this scenario is rarely the case,” Boychyn writes.

“Between varying tiller maturity and a short harvest season, it is usually necessary to harvest the grain before the ideal moisture content to avoid losses in yield and quality,” he says. “This means that post-harvest grain management must be implemented to condition the grain and reduce the risk of spoilage. “