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How tough is too tough and what to do with it?

By John Ippolito, Regional Crop Specialist, Kindersley

October 2016

As this harvest drags on, more producers are making the decision to try and harvest the remaining crop as tough grain and then manage that grain until it can be sold. 

The important factors to consider in making this decision are moisture content of the grain and temperature at the time of harvest.  The combination of moisture content and temperature will give you some idea of how long you can keep it in its present state. 

The graph below is for canola and is an estimate of the number of “safe days” producers have before spoilage begins. Be very cautious using these charts. This work was performed in small tubes, where the temperature and moisture conditions were uniform. Realistically, conditions are never totally uniform in a bin, and this is what precipitates the spoilage process. These charts should only act as a very rough guide.

Table 3. Maximum Period (Days) Without Visible “Clumping” of Canola by Moulds Initial Moisture (%) Days Without Clumping

 

Temperature °C

Initial Moisture Content (%)

25

20

15

10

5

17

4

4

6

11

20

15.6

4

6

6

11

28

13.7

4

6

11

20

46

12.3

8

6

18

25

109

10.6

11

18

42

42

238

8.9

23

48

116

279

300

6.7

69

180

300

300

300

Source: Burrell et al, 1980

The chart below shows similar information for cereal grains.

SAFE STORAGE TIME CEREAL GRAINS

Grain Temp. °C

Grain Moisture Content

14%

15%

16%

17%

18%

19%

20%

21%

22%

23%

24%

25%

< -5

SAFE

80 - >240 days

 

5

80-120

40-60

40-60

40-60

40-60

20-30

20-30

10-15

10

 

80-120

40-60

40-60

40-60

20-30

20-30

10-15

10-15

10-15

15

 

80-120

40-60

40-60

20-30

20-30

20-30

10-15

10-15

5-8

5-8

20

 

80-120

40-60

40-60

20-30

10-15

10-15

10-15

5-8

5-8

3-5

3-5

25

80-120

40-60

20-30

20-30

10-15

5-8

5-8

3-5

3-5

3-5

3-5

3-5

30

40-60

20-30

10-15

10-15

5-8

3-5

3-5

3-5

3-5

3-5

3-5

3-5

NOT SAFE

The key strategy at this time if harvesting tough grain is to get it cooled to 5 C or lower as quickly as possible to give some time to manage it.  This is best achieved by placing into aeration bins and turning on the fans.

Some producers may wish to immediately dry grain using supplemental heat on the bins equipped with fans and ductwork.  A few key points to keep in mind if using supplemental heat are:

  • Air going into the bin should be heated by 10 C.  Ideally this air should be in the range of 15 to 20 C to be effective in drying.
  • Air flows should be no less than 0.75 cubic feet per minute per bushel if using supplemental heat.
  • Run the fans for a period of time after drying has occurred and the heaters are turned off to get the grain temperature back to a uniform temperature approaching 5 C or lower.

More information on managing storage of tough canola can be found on the Canola Watch web page

For more information on managing cereal grains contact the Kindersley Regional Office for a copy of the publication Natural Air Grain Drying.

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