Leave the fans ON!

A lot of Prairie canola is in a serious storage situation. A crusher has already received one load of 2011 canola with 18% heated kernels. The canola was combined only three weeks ago and was binned dry — but at 30 C or more. Excess heat is dangerous. The Prairies have had two heat waves during this harvest and some regions are forecast to hit 28 C again this week.

As soon as you harvest canola, put it on aeration and leave the fans on until the whole bin is at 15 C or cooler. Bin cables make it easy to monitor the temperature front as it moves up through the bin. The worst case scenario is to shut off the fans before the warm front moves through the grain mass. This warm front is a band of warm air with high humidity. If that band sits for a day in one location, seeds within that band absorb the moisture, creating a pocket of hot and moist grain. Bad combo.

The key with aeration under current conditions is to COOL canola, not dry it. Keep the fans going — even through the heat of the day and humidity of the morning. Don’t stop for a cloudy rainy day. Aeration with natural air is unlikely to increase moisture very much. Incoming air at 70% relative humidity, for example, would equilibrate to moisture levels of between 8 and 9% for canola seed, assuming the humidity stayed that high until the bin reached equilibrium. Click here for more on this concept. If you’re worried the bin isn’t cooling fast enough, take out a few loads, leave them in the truck overnight, and put them back in.

Canola, even dry canola, continues to respire and give off moisture for 4-6 weeks after harvest, so keep monitoring closely throughout this time.