Top Crop Manager

Storage & Transport
Manage stored grain before May 2014

Apr. 7, 2014 — One of Canada's top experts on grain handling and food storage is warning farmers and producers of a potentially serious problem.

Distinguished Professor Digvir Jayas, former Canada Research Chair in Stored-Grain Ecosystems and currently vice-president (research and international) at the University of Manitoba, says there is an urgent need to take action to prevent spoilage of the 2013 food crop.

Western Canada had a bumper harvest in 2013, with increased yields as high as 38 per cent above 2012 levels for some crops. This positive news has been tempered by the fact this has far outstripped the capacity of storage facilities on farms and elevators. Combined with the slow movement of grain out of Western Canada, this has forced producers to place grain in temporary storage in Quonset huts, in Silobags or simply piled on the ground. As the weather warms up in the spring and summer, there is a great risk of grain spoiling due to insect infestation, mould growth or rodents.

"Farmers need to take corrective action very soon," advises Jayas, who makes the following recommendations to reduce quality loss in storage:

  • Grain should be moved out of Silobags, Quonset huts and off the ground as soon as possible and loaded into bins with aeration, and best before May 2014. Research results from the assessment of Silobags for storing canola at 12 per cent moisture content showed that canola maintained its grade if unloaded before the ground is thawed, although lost one grade if unloaded a month after beginning ground thawing and became feed grade if unloaded after few summer months.
  • Moister grain should be dried or processed first. Natural air drying can be operated when the air temperature is higher than 15℃ and relative humidity is lower than 65 per cent. After the middle of April, weather conditions on some days can meet this requirement.
  • Cold grain should be turned or aerated to raise the grain temperature to between 5 to 10°C to prevent moisture migration.
  • New harvest grain should not be put on the top of the grain harvested in the previous year(s).
  • New harvest grain should go into bins that are cleaned of grain residues, and approved insecticides applied so as to disinfest empty bins.

Canadian Grain Commission crop storage information.