Heaps of grain that was cut wet will need careful monitoring to avoid further deterioration, even if they now appear dry.
Sodden grain is causing unprecedented problems in both mobile and continuous flow driers, says Frontier Agriculture’s John Speed. Soil and chaff that could not be blown from combines working in crops at up to 40% moisture has caused uneven drying.
“In mobiles, the grain around the cores is OK, but near the outer screens it sticks, hangs and won’t flow,” he says. “It’s the same with cascade-type continuous machines – the grain just won’t flow.”
The result is that even supposedly dry heaps contain damp pockets that could soon heat and deteriorate.
“There’s tremendous moisture variation in heaps,” says Mr Speed. “You must try to stabilise them by cooling and drying as fast as possible. If you can’t do that, then get someone to take it away to avoid mould. Offload your problem.”
Wettest grain should be tackled first, he says. If delays are likely, try to keep air moving through it to prevent overheating and further loss of quality through moulds and pests. “Above all, keep sampling and map what you have in store.”
Even in the south there is still plenty on farms at 17-19% moisture awaiting drying, says Hampshire Grain’s Mike Clay. “And we still keep finding some a lot wetter,” he adds.
“At 17% it should be fine for several weeks. The real problem is that a lot of it was cut when wet and sprouted, which is making it sweat – and once it’s pushing 20-21%, it deteriorates quite quickly. Keep a close eye on the stuff you think is dry – especially if it’s chitted.”