A record soybean harvest and trade disputes with China may result in storage challenges for soybean producers. While storing soybeans can be trying even under ideal conditions, things may get even more unpredictable this year.
Cool, wet weather, the necessity of using older grain bins, and longer storage times mean that farmers may have to take extra steps to ensure that their stored soybeans don’t spoil or see a reduction in germination. Unfortunately, both of these scenarios can occur if storage moisture is too high. Further, since soybeans have a higher oil content than corn, they are more prone to spoilage.
If soybeans have a moisture content of less then 15 percent, bin fans can be used to dry them. If soybeans are dried over a single planting season, the moisture content should be less than 12 percent. Carryover seed should be stored at less than 10 percent.
Another issue when it comes to soybean versus corn storage is that soybeans are more delicate than corn. That means that hot air can damage soybeans, as can too much, or too rough, handling. If you are using fans that are sized for corn drying, you should limit heated air drying to approximately 135 degrees for commercial beans and 105 degrees for seed beans.
Low-temperature dryers for soybeans should have a fully perforated floor. Additionally, the fan should be capable of pushing air up 1 to 2 cubic feet per minute per bushel. Drying time will depend on things like airflow, moisture content and weather. It also is important to check on soybeans regularly so that you don’t lose them.
What follows are some other tips for storing soybeans:
Always level off bins immediately following harvest
Avoid seed damage by using sharp augers and spreaders
Regardless of moisture levels, aerate the bin as soon as it is filled to remove heat from beans
Maintain a grain temperature of approximately 35 degrees in the winter and 50 degrees in the summer
Be on the lookout for any crusting and aerate if necessary
Finally, you may want to consider a portable moisture tester. Keep in mind that grain temperature can have a significant effect on moisture readings and cold grain may cause low readings. All testers show variability so it is always good to test samples more than once and average the readings.