A lot of work goes into ensuring a successful crop year, but the work doesn’t end after harvest. Ensuring your binned or bagged crop retains its quality requires extra attention, especially when you’re considering using it for seed in the upcoming season. Understanding the quality going into the bin, monitoring it while it is in the bin, and ensuring it is handled gently if it must be moved are key actions.
Initially, you want to be cognizant of the quality of the seed going into the bin at harvest. Higher temperatures of seed going into the bin aren’t necessarily a bad thing provided you don’t see a large upward swing. Monitoring and managing the bin for temperature swings is important, but there is more to watch.
For all crops, regular bin monitoring is imperative, as an increase in heat and moisture favour the growth of storage moulds. Mould growth and respiration produces additional heat and moisture which can cause the temperature within the seed mass to escalate quickly, and eventually the seed may become heat damaged.
Moving seed during winter’s cold temperatures can potentially magnify this problem. Rotating a bin’s contents into another bin is normally not a big deal. However, if you find yourself lacking bin space, you may be required to move that seed into a bin of higher temperature or into a bin which is half full of much colder seed. At this point, you would want to watch the temperatures not only of the seed of concern, but also the bin temperatures you’re moving into. Layering different temperatures has the potential to create condensation and increase seed damage. Outside air temperature is also a factor as warmer seed against cooler bin walls can create condensation that can further accelerate the issue.
You need to watch temperatures closely and know what your storage availability is. If you must move seed into a partially full bin, cycling that bin to better blend and distribute that heat and potential moisture is very important.
In my experience, you want to check bin temperatures frequently from the point of harvest all the way through to the point where you see a stable temperature. Even once you get to a stable point, it is prudent to keep a watchful eye on temperatures both inside and outside the bin.
Quick tips on moving seed in cold temperatures
- Regularly maintain equipment
- Know your equipment’s limitations
- Keep RPM’s low
- Keep auger loaded to reduce milling