Experts scramble for answers | PAMI is conducting trials on three grain bins to determine best management practices to keep grain from spoiling
Long-term canola storage isn’t something producers have previously had to worry about.
However, last year’s record harvest and subsequent transportation logjam meant there’s more of the valuable and vulnerable seed sitting in storage as the warm summer months approach.
“There are a lot of questions about how to best store it or how to best manage it, and we can’t answer those questions because this has never happened at this scale before,” said Joy Agnew of the Prairie Agriculture Machinery Institute.
Canola growers are usually advised to aerate grain in the spring before summertime temperatures arrive, raising the temperature of frozen grain to 5 to 10 C and reducing the risk of condensation and spoilage.
This summer, Agnew is leading a project to develop best management practices for the months that follow.
Funding from the provincial canola grower commissions and the national council will help Agnew monitor three grain bins on a commercial farm near Lake Lenore, Sask.
Each bin holds an average of 3,500 bushels of canola and in early June was equipped with sensors to measure temperature and relative humidity. All of the seed had been frozen over the winter with fans running on days colder than -30 C.
One bin has been left untouched, while another will be aerated at night. A third bin was turned in early June.
At that time, frozen grain was coming out of the bin at -25 C and going back in between -5 and 0 C, said Agnew. Last week, the temperature had risen to -2 C at the bin’s core and 15 C around the edges. The core temperature in the other two bins re-mained much lower.
Agnew expects to turn the grain again at a later date. The bin that was left alone is already seeing a high relative humidity reading.
“A 4,000 bu. bin that was frozen over the winter is going to be problematic because we’re seeing problems al-ready in that one,” said Agnew.
“I’m thinking that the fan strategy may work. We know the turning strategy seems to work so far … but so far we’ve seen that if you leave it alone, there’s going to be trouble.”
Real-time temperature readings and observations from the bins are available online at grain.pamifiles.ca/display.php.
“That gives producers some immediate feedback, and that’s critical in this kind of situation where they’re having to make decisions now, not in September, when we’re going to have the results ready,” said Agnew.