Safely storing grain long-term after a wet harvest

With the snow, rain and cold conditions continuing to hamper this year’s harvest, some farmers are taking matters into their own hands as they harvest in less than desirable conditions by taking the crop off a little wet.

Harry Brook is a Crop Specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

He says Mother Nature hasn’t given producers any breaks, citing examples where some canola fields that were swathed a month ago still have green and mushy conditions under the swath,

Brook says producers with grain dryers are taking the crop off three to four per cent wetter than what is recommended for long-term safe storage.

He says producers doing this need to remember a few things.

“You can take it off damp and there is a certain period of safe storage, know what that is, monitor it very closely, and as soon as possible get it to a dryer,” says Brook.

He says this is going to be similar to 2016, where there is a lot of grain to be dried and there just isn’t the drying capacity out there.

“They’ll have to monitor their grain, turn it, to prevent it from heating while they wait for their spot in the schedule where they can get their grain dried.”

“It just means when you are having this wet grain in the bin it has to be watched like a hawk. You are probably going to have to move it around to break up any hot spots and keep it cool, aeration is essential.”

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Brook says you also have to keep in mind that there was not a huge profit margin to begin with on most of these crops.

“We had a dry summer, which meant that had an effect on yield, quality was still good for the stuff coming off before the snow in September.”

He says pretty much everyone is now taking off a crop that is weathered somewhat.

“Producers are going to lose some quality which means they lose some value and then you have to throw more money at it paying for drying to get it dried down so it can be safely stored. It just keeps narrowing that margin until it might even get into the red.”

Brook figures producers need about three weeks of good weather to wrap up the harvest.