So, you’ve harvested your crops and stowed them in storage to wait for better market prices. Great, right? Well, maybe not. Especially after a rough harvest, you want to ensure that your crop doesn’t spoil in the bin, which the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) says has been a major concern this winter.
The best thing to do, according to the CCC, is to check all your bins regularly. Transferring canola between bins on a cool day is the best way to stop heating. Transfer at least one third, and if storage risks like green counts, moisture, weeds or dockage are high, transferring the entire bin might be your best bet. Feel for heat and sniff for a rancid, sweet or burnt smell as the canola comes out of the bin.
Storage risks create more hospitable environments for mould, which trigger clumping and heating. With time, the risk of spoilage caused by these factors increases, and fluctuating temperatures exacerbate the problem.
- Grain is a fairly good insulator: while temperature cables are a good way to identify hot spots before they become a problem, they’re most accurate for the grain immediately around them. Grain resting at the midpoint between two cables could become an advanced hot spot well before the temperature cables notice it. Any increase in temperature is a signal to take action; warming canola will continue to get hotter and hotter until spoilage begins and spreads until the whole bin is lost.
- Cold temperatures affect moisture testers’ ability to measure grain moisture content: to avoid moisture tester error, collect a sample in a sealed container, allow it to rest indoors for six to 12 hours and then test it.
- Canola with a high moisture content may not be safe, even at low temperatures: freezing may be a short-term storage solution for soggy (10 per cent moisture and higher) canola that wasn’t dry before winter, but even bins at -5 C have had heat issues, according to the CCC.
The best solution for high moisture grain in storage this winter? Aeration, to achieve uniformly cold and frozen conditions, and conditioning in the spring once temperatures allow.