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Stored canola at risk for moisture damage and heating

Equalize the storage temperature with outside conditions to avoid moisture from condensation

The Canola Council of Canada is telling farmers to warm their stored canola before it gets hot outside to avoid a buildup of moisture that can cause spoilage.

Statistics Canada says there were about nine million tonnes of canola in commercial and on-farm storage as of March 31, which is double the amount in the system last year and the highest level in the history of the crop.

“The goal is to reduce the temperature differential between stored canola and the outside air,” says Angela Brackenreed, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada in a release. “This reduces the amount of moisture movement within the bin, and can prevent the concentration of moisture that can lead to spoilage and heating.”

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man checking moisture content in a canola bin

Cold grain should be turned or aerated to raise the grain temperature to between 5 C and 10 C.

Joy Agnew, a grain storage researcher with the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI), says now is a good time to warm up dry grain. “If you use air that is more than 10 C warmer than the grain, the air will lose its ability to hold its moisture as soon as it hits the cool grain. This means it will condense on the grain and possibly freeze — which would cause major airflow issues,” she says.

Agnew recommends turning the grain after it has been warmed. “If possible, entirely empty the bin and put it into another aeration bin,” she says.

Changing bins might not be an option this year given last year’s record crop and slow rail movements over the winter.

Statistics Canada says at 21.5 million tonnes, all-wheat stocks are at their highest level in 20 years, while stocks of barley, durum and oats are also higher than normal.

Agnew said if moving canola from one bin to another is not possible, a farmer should pull out several loads and put them back on top in the same bin.

“The goal here is to try to mix the grain to help even out the temperature variations and help warm up the grain a bit more.” She recommends that stored canola remain below 15 C.

The larger the bin, the greater the risk of spoilage if canola is not warmed. “Bins larger than 5,000 bushels are more susceptible to moisture migration because there will be a greater temperature differential between the outer edge and the core of the bin,” Agnew says.

Canola that went into the bin with moisture above 10 per cent, even above eight per cent, deserves extra attention this time of year. “Tough canola is at much higher risk, and it should be dried if it can’t be delivered right away,” Brackenreed says.

A hot air dryer will do the job quickly. Natural air drying with aeration fans can also work, but the ideal conditions for this technique are when outside air temperature is higher than 15 C and humidity is lower than 65 per cent.

Agnew adds that canola dried with a hot air dryer should be cooled to 15 C for storage.

The barley stocks number as of March 31, of 4.346 million tonnes was slightly smaller than what traders expected, said Mike Jubinville of ProFarmer Canada. Last year, stocks as of March 31 were at 3.044 million tonnes for barley, either because production was overstated for the crop, or feed demand was stronger than anticipated.

“The demand for barley was maybe a little stronger with the harsh winter, which means cattle per head eat more units,” said Jubinville. “Or, maybe more cattle on feed this year without any corn or DDGS coming across the border from the United States made more of a demand on barley.”

Increased movement of supplies into the domestic feed market may have also helped bring all wheat stocks down, said Jerry Klassen manager of the Winnipeg office of GAP SA Grains and Produits.

“We maybe have larger stocks (of wheat) pushed into the feed market because of some slower rail movement over the winter,” Klassen said.

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