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Act Quickly to Deal with High-Moisture Grain

21 November 2011

AUSTRALIA - Western Australian growers who have experienced wet conditions this harvest have a number of options to deal with high-moisture grain, but the key is to act promptly.

Detailed advice to help growers manage grain which is over the standard safe storage moisture content of 12.5 per cent is outlined in a new Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grain Storage fact sheet - Dealing with high-moisture grain.

The fact sheet is included with the November-December edition of the GRDC magazine Ground Cover, which has recently been mailed to growers.

Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) grain storage specialist Chris Newman said using aeration cooling to store grain of moderate moisture content – of up to 15 per cent – was one of the ways to reduce the risk of grain damage and mould growth.

“Keeping grain cool will reduce the likelihood of surface moulds activating and so preserve the grain germination qualities,” he said.

“Aeration cooling can be used to reduce the risk of mould and insect development for a month or two until drying equipment is available to dry grain down to a safe level for long-term storage or delivery.”

Mr Newman said other management techniques outlined in the fact sheet included:

  • Blending – mixing high moisture grain with low-moisture grain, then aerating;
  • Aeration drying – big volumes of air force a drying front through the grain in storage, and slowly remove moisture;
  • Continuous flow drying – grain is transferred through a dryer, which uses a high volume of heated air to pass through the continual flow of grain;
  • Batch drying – usually a transportable trailer drying 10 to 20 tonnes of grain at a time with a high volume of heated air, which passes through the grain and out perforated walls.

Mr Newman said the importance of managing moisture quickly and effectively was highlighted by a Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) trial.

“Wheat at 16.5 per cent moisture content, at a temperature of 28°C, was put into a silo with no aeration,” he said.

“Within hours, the grain temperature reached 39°C and within two days reached 46°C, providing ideal conditions for mould growth and grain damage.”

Mr Newman said growers should consider adding an aeration unit when purchasing new silos, and that most manufacturers now offered this option.

“This small additional investment can mean big benefits when the weather turns against them,” he said.

TheCropSite News Desk

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