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Keep “Killers of Stored Seed Quality” at Bay

Saturday, November 2, 2002
filed under: Harvest/Storage

Don’t Turn Fans Off Too Early

Keep “Killers of Stored Seed Quality” at Bay

Air drying stored sunflower is difficult once fall temperatures drop to freezing and lower, says Ken Hellevang, extension ag engineer at North Dakota State University. “You don’t make much drying progress any more. So it’s best to run the fans and cool sunflower to about 20 to 25 degrees, and then hold them at that point. Monitor moisture and pull them out and dry with heat if you run into problems, otherwise, hold them cold over the winter and do your drying if needed next spring. Climatic conditions in April are similar to October, so you can generally do good drying in April.”

Remember that sunflower is an oil crop that’s flammable—keep high temperature dryers free of debris to minimize fire potential. Periodically check sunflower in storage to ensure it’s cooled down properly at the proper moisture.

Bob Majkrzak, president and CEO of Red River Commodities, Fargo, N.D., calls mold-inducing moisture hot spots and insects as “killers to confection seed quality in storage.”

“Kernel damage could render your product useless,” he says. “Keeping moisture spoilage to a minimum, and not creating an environment that harbors insects, will help maintain that product in storage.” Clean sunflower before putting it in storage to help maintain quality, he adds.

Ron Meyer, area extension agent, Colorado State University, Burlington, says growers in the High Plains tend to store wheat and corn before sunflower, but smaller crops all around this year will result in more on-farm storage of sunflower. “The question often comes up how sunflower stores compared to corn,” he says. “Yes, sunflower stores as well as corn. If you have air in your bin, use it if moisture is above 10%, and don’t use air if moisture is below 10%.”

What is air aeration or drying? Aeration is moving a small amount of airflow through dry grain to control the grain temperature for storage management. Drying requires the movement of large amount of airflow to remove moisture. An aeration system will not be any significant drying. Use aeration to cool the sunflower to create a better storage environment. Sunflower above 10% moisture can be dried with a

properly sized natural air drying system.

Don’t turn fans off too early, advises Chris Bohn, purchasing manager for Agway, Grandin, N.D. “Guys sometimes run the fans for a month or so then think, ‘geez, it’s got to be dry by now,’ and turn the fan off when they really don’t know for sure,” he says. “Sample the last exit point to make sure moisture has been pulled or pushed through the grain adequately. If you’re pushing it through from the bottom, then check the grain at the top. If you’re sucking the air from the top, then sample at the bottom of the bin.”

Remember to adjust the moisture content reading based on the grain temperature. The reading can be off by a couple percentage points if temperature is not considered. —Tracy Sayler

Grain Drying And Storage Info Online

(Colorado State University, managing stored grain)

(Kansas State University online publication library)

(North Dakota State University, sunflower drying and storage)

(NDSU Pro Crop Storage Menu)

(NDSU Online Grain Drying and Storage Publications)

Extensive NDSU site on grain drying, handling and storage

(University of Minnesota Grain Drying, Handling & Storage)

(U of M Grain Storage Links)

Fields Dry? Leave Stubble for Snow, Consider Fertilizing Next Spring

You did leave field stubble, including harvested sunflower stalks, standing over the winter to help with soil moisture recharge next year—didn’t you?

The difference between leaving upright stubble and leaving no stubble made a difference of between 1.1 inches and 2.15 inches of extra moisture, according to North Dakota research. The studies averaged about 1.5 inches of extra moisture due to snow catch, which is influenced in part by surface roughness, but mostly by stubble height. Stubble left at 13 to 15 inches increased spring soil moisture by 1.45 inches compared to a 2 inch stubble height.

Separately, if you haven’t already applied fertilizer this fall, consider holding off until spring, especially if your fields are dry. Anhydrous ammonia may not seal properly in soil that’s too dry, says Duane Berglund, NDSU extension agronomist.

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