Northern growers storing winter crop on farm can ensure reliable grain quality by focusing on best hygiene practice, monitoring and cooling.
This combined with the use of gas tight, sealed storages for fumigation will give growers the best protection against grain pests whilst maintaining grain quality.
Consultant Chris Warrick who heads up the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Grain Storage Extension Project said there were excellent resources available to assist growers attempting storage for the first time or wanting to update their knowledge.
“The GRDC’s Stored Grain Information Hub has all the latest information on grain storage, including economics, specific storage requirements for different grains and seeds and up to date chemical information,” he said.
“It’s also handy if you need a refresher on the basics for whatever reason, but essentially keeping it clean, keeping it cool and keeping an eye on it is key.”
Hygiene is particularly important post-harvest, particularly removing grain residue from empty storages and grain handling equipment including silos, augers, field bins and harvesters.
“Don’t park them all in the shed and head off to the beach for your summer holiday. Clean equipment by blowing or hosing out the residues and dust and then consider a structural treatment,” Mr Warrick said.
“In terms of temperature, aim to keep grain less than 22°C through summer to slow storage pest activity, and when grain first goes in, ensure that aeration fans are run continuously for the first 2-3 days to push the first cooling front through and create uniform moisture.
“After that, run fans during the coolest 9-12 hours every day for at least five days and then aim for around 50 hours of quality air at air flow rates of two – four litres per second, per tonne. The ultimate aim is to maintain grain at or below 18°C, at which point most storage pests stop breeding.
“An aeration controller will perform the cooling process at the right time, aerate the grain with the coolest air and ensure fans don’t operate when the relative humidity is higher than 85 per cent, which can re-wet and damage grain if operated for extended periods.”
Once grain is in storage it needs to be monitored at least monthly, taking samples from the bottom and, when safe, from the top too.”
Mr Warrick says should you plan to fumigate, using the right type of storage is the first and most important step.
“Only use fumigants, like phosphine, in a pressure-tested, sealed silo. Research shows that fumigating in a storage that is anything less than pressure sealed doesn’t achieve a high enough concentration of fumigant for a long enough period to kill pests at all life cycle stages, risking resistance and re-infestation,” he said.
“Phosphine resistance is wide spread, so the best practice of planning, monitoring and treating effectively to maintain quality of your grain is also of significant importance to the shelf life of this fumigant.”
For more information or advice please go to the Stored Grain website or call the 1800WEEVIL hotline.
Chris Warrick, GRDC Grain Storage Extension Project
0427 247 476
Sarah Jeffrey, Cox Inall Communications
0418 152 859
GRDC Project Code