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The truth about oranges

Date Added: 27/06/2017

BLOG: By Richard Elsdon, Technical Manager, United Oilseeds

 As we grow up, we learn that a goodly supply of vitamin C will help to ward off colds.  In addition, we are told that citrus fruits such as oranges are a good source of vitamin C -  so eat oranges or drink orange juice and all will be well.  Will it? Life is rarely straight forward and there is, as you may have guessed, a twist to the tale.

As well as vitamin C, orange juice has a sizeable sugar content and it is this which has less attractive effects on human health. When sugar is taken in excess your blood sugar levels spike and the pancreas responds to this by producing the hormone insulin whose job is to bring sugar levels down. But after a while, human cells stop responding to insulin. In response the pancreas produces ever more which has less effect on blood sugar levels. This causes the body to go into fat storage mode (insulin's other job) diverting extra calories away from your muscles and into fat cells. As your Insulin levels rise you become hungrier and fatter, possibly leading to type 2 diabetes.

I want to turn now to the soon to be harvested crop of oilseed rape (OSR) I cannot predict the weather tomorrow never mind at harvest time, but if the summer so far is anything to go by we may have another very warm spell of weather. 'Yippee!'  I hear you exclaim.  I can save dryer fuel and just put the newly harvested crop of OSR straight into store and get on with another of the many tasks to do at this time of year.  But - the incoming crop may be dry but it will also be far too warm for long term storage. The down side of this high temperature is that the crop may, by the action of microbes, become rancid and  have a high fatty acid content. It usually makes the heap smell like burnt marmite.

As you may imagine, this is a very unhelpful development. It can be dealt with in a commercial store at a price. But why not avoid the problem by careful store management? I am talking now about gradually cooling the crop.

To some growers this cooling process is perceived to be rather challenging. They seem to think that they need to wait for frosty weather so the cooling can be done quickly. The wait can be very expensive if in the meantime the crop has gone rancid. The by now well accepted route is to use the slightly cooler night air at relatively low volumes to gradually lower the temperature of the bin or heap. This air need only be three or more degrees cooler than the rape to be beneficial. I am not advocating insomnia at this point. By far the best way of controlling the fan(s) is by installing a differential thermostat. This will enable the fans to pick up the sometimes relatively short periods of cooler air you would otherwise miss. And by the way, do keep the fans running if cool air coincides with rain falling. The amount of water vapour picked up by the fans is insignificant.

Hot weather at harvest time can be a great help but, like orange juice, carries with it a hidden risk. The answer to orange juice is to modify your diet. The answer to hot rapeseed in store is to cool it - and begin straight away.

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