For farmers planning to store grain this summer, careful management is critical to help protect quality and profitability, says GSI district manager and grain conditioning expert Gary Woodruff.
“Because of last year’s challenging growing season and harvest, grain now in storage has a shorter storage life and is more susceptible to grain condition issues,” he notes.
Woodruff offers the following recommendations to avoid developing out-of-condition grain in your bin:
- During spring, raise the temperature of stored grain to match the outside temperature in 15 degree increments until the grain is up to 50 degrees, and then hold that level into the summer for as long as possible. Large differences in temperature can cause condensation to collect on cold grain and lead to serious quality issues. “An automated aeration control, like GSI’s Bullseye bin controller, makes management much easier,” Woodruff says.
- As temperatures continue to warm, cool grain with aeration to avoid insect issues, which will begin above 50 degrees and become serious around 75 degrees.
- Check grain weekly throughout the summer. Climb to the top of the bin and without entering, observe whether there is a crust or any noticeable smell. An increase in surface moisture usually is the first sign of problems. “Remember that an automated aeration controller does not replace regular weekly or biweekly physical checks,” Woodruff cautions.
- If any quality problems are spotted, start aeration fans to attempt to stop the issue as soon as possible. This may work in shorter bins under 48 feet diameter. However, it is not possible to get enough air to see a level of success on larger bins.
- The only real fix for out-of-condition issues which are not stopped by aeration is to unload the bin down to where the affected grain is out of the bin. This likely means the grain will have to be marketed early, and poor grain quality may be docked at the elevator.
“Prevention is always the best answer, with proper management beginning at harvest,” Woodruff adds. “Finally, remember to always follow safe practices around grain bins. This includes entering the bin as little as possible and taking precautions using proper equipment with others to help, as well as using proper respiratory protection against mold and dust.”
He says farmers should check with their local ag universities, which have good resources with more detailed recommendations.