Why would you artificially dry a crop that normally dries in the field?
One reason would be late planting due to double cropping or wet fields, or poor fall weather may result in soybeans that are too wet to store.
Second, harvesting early, when soybeans are still wet, reduces field losses, harvest losses, and market weight losses and allows more time for other fall fieldwork.
The optimum harvest moisture range is 13 percent to 15 percent for maximum weight and minimum field losses.
Soybeans can generally be harvested any time after the seeds are mature and the foliage is dry. But threshing is difficult and more beans are crushed and bruised when harvested with more than 18 percent moisture.
When moisture is less than 13 percent:
percent per percentage point below 13 percent. At $6.00/bu., this represents about 7 cents per bushel per point.
When moisture is less than 10 percent, soybeans themselves are brittle and more likely to split during
harvest and handling. Cleaning and handling seed beans at this moisture can reduce germination.
When storage moisture is too high, spoilage is likely and germination can be reduced in just a few days. High oil content makes soybeans slightly more susceptible to spoilage than corn, so soybeans need to be about two points drier than corn for the same storage period. For winter storage, store commercial soybeans at 13 percent moisture or less, 12 percent or less for up to one year, and 11 percent or less for more than one year. Soybeans with less than 15 percent moisture can generally be dried with fans sized for routine aeration (0.1-0.2 cfm/bu.).
You can dry soybeans in several types of high- or low-temperature dryers, but be careful. Soybeans are
fragile and can be damaged by air that is too hot or too dry, as well as by rough handling.
Avoid dryers that recirculate or stir grain. Arrange drying systems to minimize drop heights and conveying. Grain spreaders are suitable for commercial soybeans but not for seed beans.
When a spreader isn't used, withdraw several loads from the bin center during filling to help level grain and
remove accumulated fines. This practice is called coring. Because clean soybeans have about 25 percent less airflow resistance than shelled corn, fans sized for corn drying will produce greater airflow through soybeans.
Greater airflow means faster drying.
Consider cleaning soybeans (with a rotary-screen cleaner and 3/16 inch square mesh screens, for example) to remove weed seeds and fines which increase airflow resistance, invite mold and insect invasion, and can
cause market discounts.
This article also discusses high temperature drying as well as low temperature drying and offers other tips on storage.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Iowa State University.