Act quickly to store high moisture grain safely

Author: Sarah Jeffrey | Date: 26 May 2015

Caption: Grain silos. Image supplied by DAF.

Caption: A good quality automatic aeration controller is Important for managing aeration cooling and drying operations. Image supplied by DAF.

Recent patchy storm rain across parts of the northern cropping belt is forcing some growers to closely assess their storage practices in a bid to avoid quality downgrades.

Dealing with storage of high moisture grain requires growers to take care in gaining an accurate reading of grain moisture content and implement aeration strategies that are appropriate for their equipment and aeration fan set-ups.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is advising growers to regularly sample and moisture test grain when filling silos to attain an accurate assessment of grain moisture levels.

Sorghum, with typical harvest temperatures of 25–30°C and moisture contents above 13–14% provides ideal conditions for mould and insect growth, according to Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Senior Development Agronomist (Postharvest Grain Protection) Philip Burrill.

Mr Burrill recommended that growers regularly take cupful samples while filling a silo and place samples into a 20 litre bucket, with sealed lid, to attain an accurate representation of the quality and moisture content of the whole silo when full. 

 “If the silo has some grain that is over the accepted safe storage moisture content of 13.5%, such as sorghum at 14–16% moisture content, then aeration fans needs to be used to keep the grain from getting hot and prevent moulds and bin-burnt grain damage,” he said.

In most circumstances, Mr Burrill said grain could be held for a few weeks at 14 -16% moisture content safely with aeration cooling fans running continuously, delivering airflows of at least 2–4 litres per second per tonne.

“Make a point every day of checking on fan operations, grain temperature and smell,” he said.

“Use the cooling aeration fans until the sorghum can be moved to undertake hot air drying, blending with dry grain, or correctly using high airflow aeration drying to reduce moisture content to approximately 13% moisture content for safe storage.

“Once dry, keep the grain managed under normal aeration cooling management, preferably using a good quality automatic aeration controller to select the best 100 hours of ambient air each month.”

A recently published GRDC factsheet “Safe storage of Sunflower seed – aeration drying and cooling” provides useful field trial details on aeration equipment and how it was used for managing high moisture grains.

The factsheet is available on the Storage section of the Better Sunflowers website, as well as links to videos, technical advice and other sunflower storage resources.

Recognising the importance of equipping growers with the skills and knowledge to store grain safely and profitably, grain storage extension has been a priority investment for the GRDC through the Stored Grain Information Hub.

A variety of information and factsheets on aeration and grain storage, including the GRDC factsheet Grain Storage – Dealing with High Moisture Grain, is available via the GRDC Stored Grain Information Hub. General telephone enquiries can be directed to 1800-WEEVIL.


Contact Details

For Interviews

Elise McKinna, DAF Media & Communication Officer
07 3087 8576


Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827

GRDC Project Code PAD00001

Region North