Wet summer 2008 causes concern for grain storage

Wet summer causes concern for grain storage

The wet harvest and the loss of chemical pesticides and fungicides such as Malathion, which have failed to achieve Annex 1, are causing major problems for cereal growers this year. However, by having storage facilities that are fully equipped to keep grain cool and dry, rejection rates can be reduced according to Aggreko, world leaders in the rental of temporary power and temperature control systems.

Grain storage is causing major problems for growers harvesting their crop after one of the wettest Augusts on record, but use of temporary heaters, air handlers and dehumidifiers can ensure that grain is dried effectively and stored correctly.

According to a survey by the English Farming and Food Partnership, over half of grain stores in the UK are over 15 years old and a third are over 30 years old, meaning many are not equipped to dry the grain and keep it dry. For those farmers and growers that are not ready to invest in new facilities, there are other options available to keep grain in optimum conditions following a wet harvest. One option is to use temporary heaters and air handlers to dry the grain prior to storage and dehumidifiers to maintain correct humidity during storage.

To dry the grain before it is put into storage, small quantities are placed on permeable platforms and hot air is passed through it, ensuring thorough drying whilst taking care not to scorch it or dry it too quickly, which can damage the germ in malting barley and seed grain. Once in storage, dehumidifiers can remove any excess moisture from the air surrounding the grain if necessary.

Grain moisture content should be around 14 per cent and temperature should be kept between 12-13ºC or ambient if it is lower. When the temperature exceeds 13ºC growers risk infestations of pests such as grain weevil, saw toothed weevil, rust red grain beetle and grain mites. If moisture is also left to increase, fungal germination, microbial spoilage and sprouting may also occur if remedial action is not taken and the grain may become compacted and solidified, forming a large mass of unsellable grain.

Neil Smith, a technical support manager at Aggreko comments: “Poor grain storage can have major consequences on the quality and quantity of the stock, which can ultimately affect the potential profit margins. As we all know, the majority of stores taking grain from producers, and all exporters, check its quality and have a nil tolerance for pests. However, with current wet conditions, coupled with pressure from the EU to reduce the use of what they deem to be ‘hazardous’ chemicals, this becomes difficult for growers to achieve.”

For producers looking to see maximum return on investment for their crops, temporary temperature and moisture control equipment provides a feasible solution in periods when the stored grain is most at risk.

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