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Grain Storage Considerations

By: Lyndon Hicks, PAg, Regional Crops Specialist, Yorkton

Grains may be stored for a long period of time but maintaining quality is dependent on the condition the grain was in when harvested and the storage facility being used. Generally speaking, grains binned at lower temperatures and moisture contents can be stored for longer periods of time before they begin to deteriorate. The occurrence of insects, moulds and fungi will drastically reduce grain quality and these are all affected by grain moisture and temperature. With harvest upon us here are a few things to consider before storing your harvested grain.     

Preparation:

  • Ensure that all machinery, augers, storage facilities and aeration systems are thoroughly cleaned before adding new grain.
  • Treating bins with diatomaceous earth or Malathion is recommended prior to adding new grain. This is not recommended for storing oilseeds or pulse crops.
  • Reduce or remove vegetation within 10 meters of a storage site to decrease the number of rodents and insects living adjacent to the stored grain. 
  • Mixing newly harvested grains with old infested grain (i.e. high moisture content or insects) could potentially contaminate all new harvested crops.

During filling:

  • Consider aeration to bring stored grain temperature down to 10 C. Below this temperature, reproduction and movement of most insects is reduced.
  • If planning to store grain for long periods of time, consider adding a grain protectant such as diatomaceous earth or Malathion (only on registered crops) when filling bins.

After filling:

  • For grain stored above 10 C, inspect every two to three weeks for heating and insect activity. Use a grain probe to monitor the middle section of the stored grain, not just the edge. 
  • Consider top dressing a grain protectant to control surface feeder infestations.
  • If insects become a problem, Phostoxin can be used. It must be applied by a licensed pesticide applicator with a fumigation license when grain temperature is above 5°C.   

The following charts show safe storage for wheat and canola. Take note to the relationship between moisture levels and temperature for each of the crops. Safe storage charts for all crops can be viewed at https://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/storage-entrepose/ssg-de-eng.htm.

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