A law in the 1930s made it illegal to grow wheat at home. Some argue these laws are no longer enforced; still, many stay on the right side of the law by focusing on storing wheat for commercial purposes.
Here’s how to store wheat the proper way:
- Get ready for harvest.
- Choose the correct storage conditions.
- Choose the wheat.
- Dry the wheat.
- Aerate the wheat.
- Set the correct temperature.
- Keep the insects away.
- Check the grains.
This article provides an introductory guide to proper commercial wheat storage. Read on to find out how to achieve the correct long-term storage of wheat.
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1. Get Ready for Harvest
Preparation of storage facilities 1 should begin around three to four weeks before harvest to ensure the new crop will not succumb to an insect infestation.
- Ensure the bins have been cleaned thoroughly.
- Check for insects in the containers and under the floors.
- Clean the equipment which will be used.
- Consider fumigating any areas that can’t reach.
- Lastly, consider spraying the bins with an insecticide.
2. Choose The Wheat
- Choosing low moisture wheat is the best way to avoid the growth of mold, bacteria and chemical degradation.
- Wheat with a moisture content of less than 10% is advised.
- Hard red wheat and white wheat are two types considered best for long-term storage.
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3. Choose The Correct Storage Conditions
Starting with wheat with less than 10% moisture, you’ll need to ensure storage conditions are conducive to keeping your moisture content low.
Chemical degradation may begin at around 12% moisture, while mold will grow at approximately 15%. Above 20% and your wheat will grow bacteria and spoil completely.
Buying wheat packaged in pre-sealed plastic storage pails with inbuilt oxygen absorbers is the first prize when it comes to successful long-term storage.
Food-grade storage pails or standard pails lined with a food-grade mylar bag are another acceptable way to store wheat. Another option, according to Bulk Natural Foods, is to use empty icing pails, which you may be able to obtain from a bakery with a bit of effort 2.
4. Dry The Wheat
While we’ve already covered choosing wheat with low moisture and choosing storage conditions keeping the moisture low, you’ll also need to further dry the grain for long-term storage.
To dry the wheat:
- Blow dry air through the grain with a fan once it’s in its bins.
While some farmers choose to dry their wheat themselves, others will send their wheat straight to a grain elevator for storage.
Commercial drying is less expensive than on-farm wheat drying, which is also labor-intensive. However, those who do dry their wheat on-farm argue doing so improves the quality of their crops 3.
5. Aerate The Wheat
While the previous section discusses the use of aeration to dry your grain, regular air movement and change are needed to keep your grain cool. This is vital to maintaining its quality, reducing mold and insect activity.
It’s advisable to regularly use low flow-rate aeration cooling fans, keeping the air vents open during the procedure. The process is to push air up through the grain stack and then let the air escape through the vents 4.
Keeping wheat to within roughly 20 degrees of the average temperature in the area where the grain is being stored will help prevent moisture migration. Such moisture may spoil grain at the top of the bin.
6. Set The Correct Temperature
Following modern storage methods, it’s advisable to keep your wheat below 60°F. Above this temperature, the grain will lose its potential to germinate and depreciate the quality of the wheat.
In winter, the recommended grain storage temperature is generally considered to be around 25 degrees. According to the University of Minnesota, operate aeration fans around the clock as fall comes to an end to prepare the grain for storage in winter 5 .
7. Keep The Insects Away
The previous steps suggested checking for insects and possibly fumigating the storage facilities in preparation for the coming harvest. In addition, steps need to be taken to prevent an infestation from starting while the storage of the new crop is underway.
While the University of Minnesota advises to consider insecticides, Utah State University cautions against them due to their possible toxic effects 6.
Instead, there’s a list of other ways to keep insects from the wheat in its recommendations. This includes freezing, vacuum sealing, dry ice and oxygen absorbers.
Others advocate keeping a watchful eye on the crops ensuring no new insects have decided to settle in, as well as setting traps 7. Whenever possible, it’s recommended to avoid insecticides.
8. Check The Grains
It’s advisable to check the grain at least once a month during winter and at least every two weeks in the summer. Be sure to check for evidence of mold and new insects. In addition, check for bad smells or a crust forming at the top of the bins.
Run the aeration fans from time to time if a smell is detected to dry any moisture forming near the top of the bins.
How Can We Preserve Wheat for a Long Time?
To preserve wheat for a long time, keep it dry, cool and oxygen-free. Grain can be stored for several years by preventing insect infestation, bacteria and mold.
Ideally, use wheat with a moisture content less than 10% and a protein content of 13% or more.
Making sure the wheat is stored correctly is quite a process. Following the process properly can result in grain fit for consumption for up to eight years.
If you’re a commercial farmer or someone wanting to go into business producing wheat, follow the tips in this article to make sure the grain you’ve harvested is correctly stored. This should result in making a substantial amount of bread.
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- University Of Minnesota Extension: Managing wheat before harvest
- Bulk Natural Foods: Successful Wheat Storage
- University of Arkansas System: On-Farm Wheat Drying and Storage
- University Of Minnesota Extension: Managing stored grain with aeration
- University Of Minnesota extension: Storing wheat and barley
- Utah State University: Preserve the Harvest: Storing Wheat
- Successful Farming: 8 Tips For Long-Term Grain Storage