The importance of proper post-harvest management

Posted February 22, 2017
Are your post-harvest storage procedures up to scratch?

Post-harvest management is one of the most important aspects of maintaining crop quality, yet it is often neglected. With silage, hay and grain in particular, correct management after the harvest is crucial to not only maintaining a top quality product, but capitalising on timely marketing/selling opportunities as they arise.

Integrated Packaging Group manufactures a range of products that help businesses in the agricultural sector; we'll run through some of these here, plus share some post-harvest crop care tips.

Threats to Silage include feral animal attack and potential UV degradation of film.

Silage

Silage is one of the most difficult crops to maintain post-harvest, as feral animals – and especially rodents – can seriously degrade quality. Having an appropriate storage location is therefore critical. Farmers first need to clear an area of any long grass that may provide cover for animals, and stay vigilant when it comes to patching holes caused by post-harvest handling of bales or feral animal/rodent damage.

Other threats to silage may include adverse weather and UV damage. Fortunately these can both be minimised with Integrated Packaging's silage film, which is made locally to deal with the harshest conditions the Australian climate dishes out.

Hay

Hay is also susceptible to rodent attacks, but a bigger threat to this crop is moisture, particularly in large and small square baled Hay. One simple way to keep hay in the right condition is to store it inside, with sheds a common option. This allows for agricultural businesses to protect from the outside weather elements, and precisely monitor moisture content, maintaining optimum feed quality and reducing the combustion hazard and spoilage risk.

Rohan Ingram, IPG Business Development Manager – Agriculture, points out the importance of using high-quality bale twine to prevent premature break-down after UV exposure. "It's really important that the twine doesn't break down over time, and keeps the integrity of the product through the packaging in good condition to give the hay more longevity, whilst maintaining quality."

Hay is particularly susceptible to high or low moisture levels. Hay is particularly susceptible to deterioration and spoilage when not shedded or covered.

Grain

Finally, grain stored in grain-bags faces similar issues to silage and hay. Again, animals present the biggest threat, underlining the importance of on-going management and patching any holes. It's critical not to leave the crop in bags too long, as continual attack from pests and animals will let moisture and weather in, ultimately effecting quality of the stored grain.

Rohan recommends that farmers "market their grain within a 12-month period, or move it to a more permanent storage location after that."

By following the basics of post-harvest storage, and using the highest-quality products available, agricultural businesses can ensure that their crops come out of storage in as good a condition as when they went in. To find out more, get in touch with the Integrated Packaging team today.