Once grain has been harvested a number of factors may influence the storage risks and quality of the grain over time. These factors all require management, in order to maintain good grain quality.
Factor 1 – Moisture
Higher moisture levels can lead to poor storage stability and rapid quality losses. A common practice to manage this risk, is to dry grains in dryers, to attain a target moisture level before placement into storage.
Factor 2 – Grain Damage
Any broken or damaged kernels are vulnerable to damage, from microbial growth, insects, mites etc, as the protective outer layer has been damaged, exposing the internal structures, which are more easily broken down. Normally sieving/ sorting is done at harvest, to help reduce these risks.
Factor 3 – Insects
Insects may be present in storage (either from the grains or in the storage areas), and under favourable conditions may burrow into grains, causing damage and consuming nutrients. Normally fumigation of storage and sieving helps to reduce insect risks.
Factor 4 – Moulds
Mould growth during storage can cause both nutritional and stock/ physical losses, resulting in large financial costs. Normally drying is used to lower the risk of mould growth.
Factor 5 – Temperature
Most of the previously listed factors are strongly linked to temperatures and warmer conditions make good storage and risk management more challenging. The use of temperature sensors and aeration is common, in order to help manage grains in storage.