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Soybean Storage Tips

Let’s face it, soybean marketability is a little on the uncertain side this year. Instead of relying on export to China, many farmers may have to think outside the box when it comes to selling their crop. This means potentially sitting on beans after harvest and waiting for the best commodity price, which makes it all the more important to ensure your soybeans are stored correctly while sitting in the bin. The high oil content contained in soybeans increases their chance of spoilage when compared to wheat or corn, which means extra care needs to be taken to protect your bottom line.

The team here at NorthStar Genetics has put together a list of our top soybean storage tips to help you maintain the high quality of your crop:

#1) Moisture Content – Ensure the moisture level of your beans isn’t higher than 14% for shorter term storage. If you expect to be storing your beans for longer than one year, 13% is preferred. Simply put, moisture causes rot – avoid that. If you’re smelling something foul, you may have to sell right away, whether or not the markets are cooperating.

#2) Check Soybean Moisture – Soybean farmers should be equipped with a portable moisture meter. For it to do its job accurately, make sure temperature is taken into account. When beans are cold, it can make the moisture read lower than the actual. Take more than one reading and average the result.

#3) Drying Your Soybeans with Heat – Heated or non-heated drying? Well, that depends on how wet your soybeans are, how much time you have to monitor them, how much space you have to dry them out, and how cool and damp the fall is. Most farmers will need to be cooling their soybeans, not adding heat to dry, but there are extenuating circumstances. If you need to apply heat great care needs to be taken. Soybeans can be ruined by air that is too hot (or too dry). Retention time in dryers should not exceed 30 minutes, and never exceed 140˚F for commercial beans. Keep your soybean levels shallow to ensure there aren’t huge differences in your moisture levels across the board. Watch, watch, watch.

#4) Drying Your Soybeans with Ambient Air – The floor should be fully perforated to allow maximum airflow. Keep in mind air flows less between soybeans than it does through corn. You will want to make sure you cool your crop to below 50˚F ASAP, mold and disease have a hard time surviving at this temperature. Remember, if the air outside is too humid, it can actually ADD moisture to your beans. You may only be able to run your dryer at certain times of the day if it’s too hot outside. The amount of time it will take to dry varies considerably, but you can bet it’s going to be two weeks at the very least, and could be up to a month.

#5) Monitor Your Stored Crop – This might seem obvious, but it’s still important to mention. Keep an eye on your stored soybeans throughout the winter (or the summer if it applies). You may have to run aeration while beans are in the bin. Watch for signs of crusting, as well as pest activity and odors. No one wants a nasty surprise.

#6) Bin Level – Keep your bins level! Peaked grain causes problems.

#7) Moisture Sampling – Do not mix up your samples. It’s good to know what’s going on in different parts of your bin. If there’s a problem starting, testing from different areas will help you identify where the problem is. Purchase a long moisture meter so you can reach various parts of the bin. You won’t regret it.

Storing your crop can be an intricate process. Contact your DSM at NorthStar Genetics if you have questions or come across a problem.