Grain bin tips and tricks to protect stored grain quality


When it comes to harvest, one of the most beneficial aspects would be grain storage. If you have it, you treasure it. Being able to hold stored grain for a later date most likely means increase in over all profitability. However, if you make one small mistake with storage procedures, that could result in lost in your bottom line.

Make sure you are up to date with these tips from Gary Woodruf, Grain Storage Inc. (GSI) district manager — it may just save you a buck or two. From running the aeration fans to checking the bins weekly, Woodruf gives a break down of six necessary and recommended procedures for stored grain quality. 

Store at proper moisture — “A common misperception,” Woodruff says, “is that grain can be held above 15 percent moisture without risking quality.” He recommends that moisture content not exceed 15 percent for storage through the following spring, no higher than 14 percent through the following fall and at 13 percent for a full year.

Run aeration fans — As grain enters the bin, run aeration fans to equalize kernel grain moisture, which typically takes five to 10 days and puts the grain in the best shape to store safely. “Also, it’s important to watch the ambient temperature and use aeration fans to get the grain temperature below 50°F as soon as possible,” Woodruff advises. “Nearly all insect and mold activity ceases below this temperature.”

Pull down peaked grain — Soon after harvest, pull peaked grain down so the center is just below the corn at the bin wall. “The grain will look somewhat like the letter M from the side, promoting air movement in the center. Alternatively, leveling at this point is also a good practice,” he says.

Store cold grain short-term — Leave the grain cold only if it will be delivered before June. “But make sure you seal the fan entrance(s) and discharge opening to keep high humidity air out,” Woodruff notes. “If you are not leaving grain cold or are storing into June or later, maintain grain temperatures within 10°F to 15°F of the outside air to avoid grain deterioration caused by condensation developing on grain bin interiors.”

Check grain weekly — Climb to the top of the bin, without entering, and observe whether there is a crust or any noticeable smell. “An increase in surface moisture usually is the first sign of problems,” he warns.

Don’t completely empty one bin at a time — Instead, Woodruff recommends when it is time to sell the grain, take partial amounts from multiple bins to form the letter M and move the remaining grain around. “That not only promotes air movement but also reduces the risk of grain plugging the discharge,” he explains.

Other recommendations from Woodruf is to take notice of the grain when harvested. For example, if corn was harvested with stalk disease and moisture, downed corn could result in mold and dirt that can affect the rest of the storage grain. It is best to remove that grain and market it early. Even though it could potentially result in a dock at the elevator, it is better to remove the potential disease from the rest of the stored grain. 

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