Keeping This Year’s Harvest In Good Condition – for Sep. 2, 2010

Over the next few weeks during harvest, temperature and moisture will influence the condition of grain when it is put into storage. The Canadian Grain Commission’s stored products entomologist, Blaine Timlick, offers producers guidance on storage practices that can help protect the quality of their grain.

“Our experts, like Blaine, are here to help Canadian producers,” explains Elwin Hermanson, chief commissioner of the Canadian Grain Commission. “Producers can also visit our website,, to access information about a variety of issues including storage.”


To help prevent insect infestations, Timlick cautions producers to check the temperature and moisture of their stored grain and monitor the grain for signs of infestation. “Taking samples from the central area on the surface of grain is a good place to start when you’re looking for stored grain insect pests in the fall,” Timlick says.

To maintain grain quality and minimize insect pest problems, producers should keep:

Grain temperature below

20 C.

Moisture content below 14.5 per cent.

If producers store grain when grain temperatures are high, they should aerate their grain to bring the temperature below

15 C as quickly as possible. Suction aeration, which pulls air from the top of the bin to the bottom, can save time and money as it has been shown to cool grain faster than traditional methods that push air through the grain mass.

If producers do not have aeration systems, they should turn their grain frequently and monitor its temperature. More information about various aeration systems can be found on the Internet.


The same good storage practices producers use to prevent insect infestations can also prevent the development of fungi. Some fungi produce mycotoxins. For example, Ochratoxin A is a mycotoxin produced by some kinds of storage fungi when conditions are right.

Research shows that Ochratoxin A develops when grain is improperly stored over long periods of time. The presence of Ochratoxin A cannot be detected visually. Health Canada is proposing limits on the amount of Ochratoxin A that can be present in domestic grain products.

To prevent problems caused by moisture, insect infestation and moulds (including those that cause Ochratoxin A), the Canadian Grain Commission recommends producers:

Dry grain before storing it, if necessary, to bring it to the recommended moisture content.

The Official Grain Grading Guide’s specifications for dry grain are:

Barley (all except select):14.8 per cent moisture or less.

Wheat (all classes):14.5 per cent moisture or less.

Oats (all) and Barley (select): 13.5 per cent moisture or less.


Use aeration to help control the heat and moisture of grain in storage.

The above tips are basic best practices. For detailed storage advice, including more about monitoring grain in storage, visit the Canadian Grain Commission’s website

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