By Carlie Connolly
Proper temperatures are crucial when storing canola over the winter, according to a crop specialist, Harry Brook with Alberta Agriculture’s Information Centre. Brook said that they have charts that show safe storage temperatures and moistures. He said that if you have grain at -10 degrees Celcius, you can have a high moisture content and it will store safely still. That also goes for grain too; at high temperatures like 25 degrees Celsius with the moisture content low, you can still have safe storage. Canola should be 10 percent moisture, but companies buying canola nowadays prefer eight or nine percent moisture.
Canola is an oil seed whereas cereals like wheat, oats, barley, and corn are grains, and when there is storage with oil seeds or grain, there is a combination of two factors; heat and moisture. For heat, its about the temperature they are at when they go in the bin, and for moisture its about the moisture content.
The two biggest variables for storing is moisture going into the bin and temperature of the grain going into the bin. In Southern Alberta, if you are harvesting at 30 to 35 degrees Celsius on a really hot day in the fall, Brook said that means that the grain is red hot.
Grain and oil seeds prove to be a good insulator. If you have a big bin (5,000 bushel bin) of grain and you put it in at 30 degrees in September, in December its going to be at least 25 degrees still in the middle of it even after cold temperatures.
“It takes a long time for the temperature to even out, and too long, that’s when you get the problems with storage,” Brook said.
By the time you put canola into the bins in the winter, Brook says you’ve probably spent between 350 and 400 dollars an acre to get that crop in the bin, and you haven’t got the money yet for it.
“It’s kind of like that old saying. ‘It’s okay to put your eggs in one basket but watch that basket.’”
Because canola is an oil seed, it has the potential for heating and for going rancid, but if it does end up heating, you’ve lost 50% of the value for that crop. That would be a guaranteed loss of income.
“Keep an eye on canola, make sure it doesn’t start heating, make sure its put in the bin in good condition and you keep it in good condition,” Brook said.
Brook said that there are temperature cables that you can throw in the bin, which will give you a reading of the temperature at various tones in the bin which then helps in keeping an eye on the canola.
Some of the problems that have occurred in the past are years ago when people were harvesting them and would stick them into plastic bags when they were extremely wet. The bags then froze and they had big chunks of frozen canola lumps, and you can’t sell canola at 20% moisture, as it has to be dried down first. Brook said that when you are drying a grain or an oil seed, you can’t remove more than two to two and a half percent moisture per time because you will then spoil it.
The main thing is to watch the bin so that you don’t lose it.
“You’ve put a lot of money into this thing. This is not the time to just put it in the bin and forget about it. You can’t afford to lose that crop when you’ve already got it off and in the bin,” he said.