September 27, 2016
To make sure soybeans stay in good shape while they are stored on the farm this year, follow these 10 commandments of grain storage management from Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University Extension agricultural engineer.
1. Start with a high-quality product. How grain is harvested affects storability. Make sure your soybeans are harvested at appropriate moisture levels: 18% moisture, ideally stored at 15%.
SAFE STORAGE: Follow recommendations on moisture and temperature to keep soybeans from spoiling while they are stored on the farm.
2. Minimize mechanical damage. Potential for mechanical damage has a lot to do with the moisture level at harvest. Waiting to harvest until soybeans are too dry increases the risk for cracking and splitting. Harvesting with slightly higher moisture and using fans to circulate air to dry soybeans can minimize mechanical damage.
3. Manage moisture according to storage plans. Market moisture for soybeans is 13%, which is fine for storing soybeans during cool conditions. If your soybeans will be stored through winter and into the warmer weather of spring and summer, Hellevang recommends storing at 11% moisture to prevent mold growth.
4. Handle soybeans properly. Specialty soybeans, including those grown for food uses, may need to be handled differently than commodity soybeans. That includes reducing auger drop height when unloading into grain bins in order to reduce breakage.
5. Control temperature inside the bin. Hellevang recommends aerating stored soybeans periodically as temperatures drop. In northern states, soybeans should be stored at or near 30 degrees F, while southern regions should aim for storage at 40 degrees F or less.
6. Keep grain bin openings covered. Once soybeans are cooled, aerator and ductwork openings should be covered to prevent snow or moisture from blowing into the bins during winter storage. Don’t allow openings to let moist air or snow enter the bins.
7. Monitor stored grain regularly. Storage management isn’t complete once grain is cooled to proper temperature for winter storage. Outside temperature changes can bring about moisture changes inside the bin. Monitor your soybeans at least once every two weeks during winter storage.
8. Read the signs. Watch for any indications that something is wrong with your stored soybeans. Condensation, insects and grain temperatures can be indicators of trouble. Recording temperature values and grain condition can be useful in tracking any changes.
9. Use available tools. Improved technology can help you better manage stored grain. Temperature cables and fan controllers can make management simpler by taking advantage of favorable conditions to keep grain stored at optimal temperature and moisture.
10. Don’t turn everything over to automation. Technology is great, but visual inspection of stored grain occasionally can be valuable. For example, moisture sensors need calibration in order to be accurate. Blindly trusting that equipment is working properly without personally checking periodically could lead to disaster.
Source: United Soybean Board
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