Though canola harvest is done and temperatures are dropping outside, it is still critical to keep an eye on stored canola.
“This is not the time to relax when it comes to binned canola,” says Matt Stanford, Canola Council agronomy specialist. “We have already received reports of bins heating, even though most canola went into the bin dry this fall. Dry does not necessarily mean safe, particularly if canola went into the bin at high temperatures.”
If canola was taken off in tough conditions or from a field with a lot of green weeds or straw in it, the risk of spoilage is even greater since pockets of damp seed or green dockage can create hot spots that can quickly spoil an entire bin.
Running fans after harvest is a simple step that helps minimize the chance of storage issues. However, it is not a license to stop checking bins since freshly harvested canola seed can maintain a high respiration rate for up to six weeks. During this unstable sweating stage, there is always risk of canola seed heating or becoming mouldy.
Additionally, if fans were only run for a couple of days or intermittently after harvest, there may have been insufficient air movement to push the moisture front through the entire volume of grain. In this case, a high moisture layer may have formed in the bin, which is at higher risk for spoilage.
“If you are concerned about high moisture pockets, you should turn on your fans and move some of the canola,” says Stanford. A minimum of one-third to one-half of the seed should be ‘turned’ to break up the high moisture pockets. If you already have a heated area in the bin, it is best to remove the pocket and cool the remaining canola seed below 15C, and drop the moisture content to 8% or lower for safe long-term storage.
“The bottom line is that risk still exists, even though the canola may have gone into the bin dry,” says Stanford. “Keep checking those bins.”