Australia, March 2012
Grain farmers around Australia are feeling some frustration with fluctuating grain prices following a mostly above average harvest season.
|Sieving and Temperature Probing are great ways to monitor grain.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation says this may prompt more farmers to consider their grain storage options, but it warns that anyone considering storing grain to increase their marketing and profit opportunities must monitor it carefully to protect their investment.
Grain Storage expert Peter Botta seconds this warning, saying particularly in the warmer months monitoring stored grain is an absolute necessity.
“Some farmers get their grain into the silo and breathe a sigh of relief, but it does have to be carefully looked after in storage or you can do your dough, not to mention waste the efforts of harvest,” Mr Botta said.
“The key element to successfully storing commercial grain on farm is to protect your grain from insect and mould damage. This is particularly important where wheat and barley are taken into storage at high temperatures, and this season with possibly higher moisture levels.
“Our summers are generally long and hot and our winters mild, all of which also favours insect development. The only way to manage this is to start with careful monitoring.
“Just like keeping an eye on your investments in the stock or property markets, you must protect your investment of grain in storage. Poor monitoring leads to incorrect and ineffective insect control attempts.”
Peter Botta says the things to monitor include insect pests, grain temperature, grain moisture content and grain quality and germination.
“Pest traps and sieving are the most effective methods of detecting grain pests. Only use sampling methods that are safe. Take samples from the top (if safe) and bottom of storages to detect low levels of insects early,” he said.
|Grain storage expert Peter Botta.
“Sieving samples onto a white tray will make it easier to see small insects and holding the tray in the sunlight warms the insects and encourages movement making it easier to identify pests and estimate population numbers.”
Other identifiers you can use include smell. In an aerated silo, the smell of the air blowing out of the grain should be nice and fresh after a few days of aeration at the start of storage. A musty smell later in storage is an indicator of insect and/or moisture problems.
High temperature is another indicator of insect or moisture problems. Push a rod at least one or two meters into the grain, leaving it to equilibrate with the grain for an hour. Pull the rod out and feel how warm it is, or use a probe fitted with a protected thermometer or thermocouple sensor to determine grain temperature.
Agri-Science Queensland grain storage expert Philip Burrill says once you have found pests, correct identification will help you to determine the most effective mode of control.
“Use one of the new GRDC Fact Sheets or pocket guides with photos to assist with identification of the most common insect pests. A magnifying glass and piece of sticky tape to hold fast moving insects may also be helpful.
|Grain storage expert Philip Burrill
“Checking grain at least once a month, or once a fortnight in summer puts you back in control of these pests, which can breed rapidly in warm conditions,” Mr Burrill said.
“It’s important to recognise the key role of aeration cooling and hygiene in maintaining grain quality and keeping insects numbers at much lower levels. Well managed, these two will overcome the majority of problems,” he said.
“Start using aeration during harvest as storages are filled to remove the harvest heat from grain and to develop uniform moisture conditions in the grain bulk. For effective hygiene, promptly clean out grain residues from empty storage and grain handling equipment.”
Mr Burrill says when a pest problem is identified fumigation is usually required. He says you should read labels and only fumigate in a sealable - gas-tight, pressure-tested storage.
“For effective phosphine fumigation, a minimum of 300 ppm gas concentration for 7 days is required, or 200 ppm for 10 days when grain is cool (15 – 25°C). Fumigating in poorly sealed storages will result in poor insect control on all life-cycle stages (eggs, larvae, pupae and adults) and also increase the populations of resistant insects.
“The best advice is to check your grain regularly, at least every two weeks during the warmer months and monthly during the cooler time of the year.”
GRDC has a range of useful material and guides.
For information about grain storage workshops, contact Philip Burrill – 0427 696 500, Peter Botta 0417 501 890, Chris Warrick 0427 247 476