Ag News & Events

Support for Livestock Producers: The Government of Alberta has recently announced that drought-stricken livestock producers will be eligible for millions of dollars in financial relief and will benefit from new rangeland initiatives that will improve access to water and grazing. For more information, please see www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=7966722273381-D712-69FD-A5A64F8C463D0F2D.


COMING EVENTS

Join the Landcare email list: Are you interested in hearing about grant programs and new funding opportunities, upcoming virtual events, workshops, and webinars, and receiving educational material like articles or video links relating to healthy and sustainable water and land? Contact Clearwater County Landcare staff @ landcare@clearwatercounty.ca with your email address to be added to the list.

Hemp Fiber Mats for purchase. Weeds rob tree seedlings of moisture, nutrients and sunlight therefore new plantings may benefit from this form of vegetation management. Available in 12- or 18-inch squares for $0.55 and $1.10 respectively. 

Verbenone Repellent Pouch - to deter Mountain Pine Beetle attack. *SOLD OUT* Limited supply of pouches are available and sold in packages of 10 at a cost of $100.00+GST. For more information call 403-846-4040 or contact dens@clearwaterocunty.ca 

Caring for my Land Funding Program: Do you have a watershed friendly project in mind? Projects that help protect natural surface water will be considered. Some examples include: planting an eco-buffer, shelterbelt or deep-rooted perennial forage to filter/retain water, riparian fencing, off-site watering systems, bridge material for livestock crossings, and beaver co-existence structures. The Caring for my Land program offers 50%-75% funding – for up to $5000 - through Alberta Environment and Parks “Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program”. Call Agriculture and Community Services at 846-4040 for more details.

AG NEWS - RECENT ARTICLE 

September 21, 2021 - Managing Tough Grain

Regular Monitoring is Critical to Prevent Spoilage

Variable weather conditions with high levels of moisture have made harvesting grain crops a bit of a challenge this fall. As a result, storage of higher moisture grains may be a concern for some local farmers who want to prevent spoilage and potential grain loss.

Effective storage is dependent on what structures are used. With smaller-scale grain producers within the county bin storage facilities are usually modest relative to larger prairie grain farms, so aerations systems are less common.

Moisture content and temperature are the main factors that determine the length of time grain can be safely stored. Enzyme activity and microbial growth will increase dramatically as the moisture content in the storage bin increases.

For wheat, a moisture content of 14.6% is generally considered dry enough for safe storage and can be sold with no discount. When moisture is between 14.6 and 17% the grain will be graded tough because it will need to be dried down to 14.6% to reach a safe storage and processing level.

Heating results from the respiration of grain as well as microorganisms, insects and mites during storage, leading to the development of hot spots within the grain.

Spoilage issues may be compounded as the temperatures within a bin vary. Moisture will naturally migrate from warm to cold areas, especially in large, poorly ventilated bins where there is not enough air movement.

Differences between grain temperature and outside air temperature can also create high moisture areas. Condensation can occur when moist warm air meets cold objects like the bin wall. Some local producers may initially place higher-moisture grain in older wooden bins to allow for more initial ventilation and moisture absorption.

Cooling the grain should be a top priority when dealing with high moisture levels. If storage facilities are set up for aeration, they can be used to cool tough grains, delaying or preventing high moisture areas and hot spots.

The recommended temperature of cooled grain is 21C in warmer months and 2C to 5C in cooler months.

If aeration is possible, fans should run continuously as long as the outside air is 5 degrees or more cooler than the grain temperature. Regular testing (at least every 2 weeks) can be done by pushing a hand into the surface as deeply as possible while feeling for warmth or crusting.

Another way to test for hot spots is to use a long metal rod, poking it deeply into the grain and feeling it by hand for warmth as soon as it is removed. Checking various locations throughout the bin will give a good indication of heating and deterioration.

If it is not possible to aerate grain, rotating it with an auger from bin to bin, or bin to truck and back as many times as necessary will help to lower temperature and moisture content.

Ongoing testing should be done throughout the storage season as localized high moisture spots can develop due to changes in outdoor air temperatures. If the outside temperature is low enough, then the bin wall will cool, creating a downward airflow through the grain and then upward through the center of the bin.

As the air moves, it becomes warmer and picks up moisture from the grain. As the warm air contacts the cool air at the surface of the grain, condensation can form and cause spoilage. If the outside temperatures are warmer than inside the bin, the opposite occurs, creating condensation at the bottom of the bin.

Canola, which should not be stored above 10% moisture, can present additional challenges.  Because the seeds are so small, the space between them is tight when packed together in the bin. This makes it difficult to achieve airflow through the grain.

Because canola seeds are still living for up to six weeks after harvest, it can be taken off dry and be relatively cool.   However, a few weeks later, heating and moisture levels can go up because of microbial respiration. Aeration during this time can counter microbial activity.

Heating of stored grain can result in reduced germination, a loss in weight, lower quality and, in extreme situations, burning. Clean grain is important as weedy material, residual crop and green or immature seeds, usually have higher moisture content and may accumulate in isolated pockets.  

Be prepared to make quick decisions about grain storage problems as soon as they are detected. Most heating problems can be easily resolved with quick action.

For questions regarding grain management or to have your grain tested for moisture and bushel weight feel free to give us a call at Clearwater County Agriculture and Community Services at 403-845-4444.