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Storage Considerations with an Earlier Harvest

Friday, September 15, 2006
filed under: Harvest/Storage

There shouldn’t be any complaints about harvesting sunflower in November chill or December snow this year – drought and heat pushed the crop throughout the Plains, meaning an earlier harvest for many.

The good news is that an earlier harvest will allow for fan aeration/natural air drying – no high temperature (and higher cost) drying should be needed. On the flip side, there’s a greater chance of quality deterioration if seed that’s too damp is put in storage in warmer, late summer conditions. Thus, aeration is critical.

Sunflower should be under 10% moisture – between 9% and 10% is best – for proper storage. Getting there can be a balancing act at harvest – wait too long for natural dry down, and sunflower standing in the field can become too dry and vulnerable to quality deterioration and shelling out. Cut too early, and there’s greater chance for quality problems if seed moisture is too high.

Compounding the situation this year for some is sunflower that may have uneven development and maturity because of the weather. In that event, a desiccant might be considered.

Most experts says it’s best to combine flowers at 12-15% moisture and use fan aeration to get stored seed moisture under 10%. In the High Plains, seed moisture that’s too dry – standing sunflower down to 5%, for example – is often more of a problem then cutting ‘flowers too damp. If harvest conditions are too dry, consider harvesting at night or very early/late in the day when humidity is higher. – Tracy Sayler

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