Want top quality grain? Keep bins clean and dry

With another harvest behind them, farmers are reminded to follow good grain storage practices to maintain Canada’s reputation for consistent and clean grain.

“As an exporting nation, we’re in a sensitive spot,” says Cereals Canada spokesperson Brenna Mahoney. “We’re known for our consistency and quality, but we have a lot of competition.”

Importing countries have strict mycotoxin regulations and residue standards, and their interest in what’s happening on farms is only rising, she points out.

Clean bins

Cereals Canada urges farmers clean their bins thoroughly prior to storing grain, ensuring they’re free of treated seed (which contains pesticides) and animal protein like blood meal and bone meal.

A clean bin helps minimize the risk of insect infestations, adds Joy Agnew, agricultural research services project manager with Prairie Agricultural Machinery.

Keep it dry

Prairie crops came off in a variety of conditions, and there are specific measures to take to ensure quality doesn’t deteriorate.

Tough or damp grain needs to be dried, and higher moisture grain will require a heated air-drying system, Agnew says.

Alternatively, if the crop went into the bin warm, it must be cooled.

“If natural, ambient cooling hasn’t done the trick, then likely it has to be turned or, ideally, aerated,” Agnew says.

Temperature and moisture content

Grain temperature and moisture content affect the presence and build-up of insects, mites, molds and fungi, and need regulating.

The target temperature for all grains is around 15 C or lower, but the ideal moisture content varies by crop.

For canola, the Canola Council of Canada considers eight per cent moisture lower-risk, while the Flax Council pegs long-term storage seed moisture for flax below 10 per cent.

“Cereals are around 14 per cent; pulses range from 13 to 16 per cent,” Agnew says.

Monitoring

The only way to determine what’s happening inside bins and if issues have arisen is to monitor them.

“Luckily there are quite a few technologies available to help out with that, like in-grain sensors and in-grain cables,” Agnew says.

The Canadian Grain Commission urges regularly monitoring stored grain for hot spots and insect populations, recommending sampling grain from the core at a depth of 30 to 50 centimetres from the surface.

The Canola Council recommends checking for signs of spoilage by cycling one-third to half of the canola out of the bin.

Cereals Canada has more details bin cleaning, as does the Canola Council of Canada and PAMI.

Bottom line

Grain storage best practices will help maintain crop quality in the bin over the long-term and keep Canada’s reputation high as competition increases.

Article by: Richard Kamchen