Photo Credit: Western Producer
Harvest has been a long, drawn out affair, filled with frustration and disappoint this year. Many still have crop left to be harvested or are taking it off wet. It’s been a year with many ups and downs but now is not the time to relax your vigilance. Wet grain has been binned or bagged or piled at unheard of moisture levels. It needs to be dried as soon as possible and cannot be left out in the cold for extended periods of time unattended.
Due to the continued difficulties in getting the crop harvested this fall, we’ve been recommending producers get their crops any way they can, as long as it goes through the combine. However, once it is harvested and in storage, the excess moisture must be dealt with as soon as possible. If you don’t have ready access to a grain dryer or have aeration for you bins, you must closely monitor the grain or oilseed for signs of heating. If it shows up, it will require you cooling the grain through circulating the grain out of and back into the bin. Depending on bin or pile size, this may have to be done fairly frequently.
Some producers are using grain bags for short term storage. Remember that very damp or wet grain in a bag will start to mold. Some molds will grow at cold temperatures and losses can be high. If bags are used for wet grain storage, it should be only for a short term, until crop drying occurs and close monitoring should again be used.
When drying grain, there are maximum temperatures that should be used on the various crops. The table below outlines the maximum temperatures to be used to dry grain. With a large amount of moisture to be removed or a big seed, multiple passes of drying and cooling will be necessary. In large seed like faba beans, drying might take 3 or 4 cycle to bring it down to safe storage levels. The cooling is required to let the moisture content in the seed equalize.
If you have aeration, you can successfully use some supplemental heat to help dry down the crop. However, in this case, smaller bins will be more useful than large bins. To make this work, the fan has to have sufficient air flow to provide at least 0.5 cfm/bushel before adding the supplemental heat. Success will depend on the cleanliness of the grain and even then, a load or two will have to be circulated out of the bin and back in to help equalize moistures and prevent dry and wet channels in the grain.
It is recommended to restrict the air temperature increase to 10⁰ C or less as higher temperatures can reduce efficiency and increase the changes of over-drying. For every 10⁰C increase in air temperature, the relative humidity is halved.
You’ve worked hard for the crop. Now is not the time to let up. If you have crop that is damp or wet, monitor it closely for signs of heating and, if it occurs take the appropriate measures to retain the value of the crop. It is too costly to do otherwise.