One of the greatest problems facing grain producers is preventing loss of crop during storage. The costs of contamination can be significant and drive an otherwise successful operation into the red. Maintaining an ideal storage environment and managing pests is key to reducing the risk of spoilage. Temperature is the hot topic.
Why temperature is important
Bacteria, fungi, and insects prefer a warmer environment. It’s easy to think because we don’t store flour or grains in the fridge that they are more resistant to contamination. Harvested crops often come to storage with fungal spores, bacteria, and a low level of insect contamination. The good news is all are vulnerable to low temperatures. Most fungi will not grow in temperatures below 5˚C and the growth of those that survive lower temperatures is severely inhibited. Likewise, bacterial growth is reduced so it becomes a very low risk to grain stores. Insects are probably the most vulnerable to temperature extremes. Where fungi and bacteria will not be killed by low temperatures, insects can be. It’s often not sufficient to ensure 100% eradication, particularly of stubborn pests like mites but combined with an ozonator or pesticides it is.
How and when to check
Maintaining a steady low temperature is vital. Spikes in temperature can let an infestation get a foothold. The solution is continuous monitoring using a digital temperature sensor like those provided by Igrain. That way action can be taken immediately to reduce temperatures to a safe level.
How to maintain it
What action you need to take depends on the kind of storage bins you’re using. It’s possible to get by with aeration albeit automated aeration makes that strategy much more effective. Where aeration alone is not sufficient—in areas with high humidity or temperature—high volume flow technology to keep a constant temperature is a must.