Stored canola at risk from rising temperatures

With the return of warm spring weather, rising temperatures could prove detrimental to producers with stored canola. As temperatures climb, spoilage and damage of stored canola can also increase, resulting in lost efforts and revenue.

“We have had a fair amount of damaged seed coming in through the course of this winter to both elevators and crushers. That is in part a reflection of what happened last fall, as well as older seed that producers continued to put into the system,” said David Vanthuyne, an agronomist with the Canola Council of Canada.

“There was a report of a bin, approximately 10,000 bushels in size, that came in with over 80 percent damage. That bin was essentially worth nothing.”

Some producers turned their canola or aerated it in November or December to reduce the core temperature to 0 C. With temperatures back on the rise, the canola council said it is important to bring core temperature back up to 10 C.

“This will ensure that, over the summer months, the temperature in the core and the outside of the bin is closer together,” Vanthuyne said.

“That way, producers can avoid that variation of temperature within the bin, which increases the risk of spoilage.”

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Some producers may have had an area of canola within their bin that was just on the verge of being too warm going into storage, but held stable. Vanthuyne said that as the temperature on the outside of the bin increases, hot air travels up the sides of the bin and down through the core. Those areas might now be prone to increasing temperatures that can cause spoilage.

“The process of conditioning is important, since it allows producers to get some air movement into their canola bins through simply turning their canola or aerating, whatever the case may be,” he said.

“That equalizes the temperature and prevents spoilage. Conditioning is just a natural process of canola.”

Vanthuyne said there is no definite timeline of how long it will take for damage to occur, but producers should be cautious of the ways in which damage can potentially occur and the risks associated with it.

“Throughout the month of May, we are advising growers to turn on their fans for a few days to try to equalize the temperatures within the bins.”

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Vanthuyne said the best way to measure the current temperature of stored canola is to pull out part of a load and take a sample. If they have temperature sensors within the bins, he suggests the canola will be stable for the summer when it starts to rise above 10 or 15 C.

“Last year, there was not a huge problem in terms of moisture. Canola was dry, but growers often think that dry is safe, which is false. Temperature is just as crucial as moisture.”

Vanthuyne said it is important producers do some of the preparation for canola storage at the beginning of winter and then turn that process around as summer nears.

“With proper storage conditions, canola will be stable and can be stored for up to two or three years.”

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