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Grain in bin needs attention now

Monitor stored grain — it’s like money in the bank.

Tom J. Bechman, Midwest Crops Editor

February 8, 2023

3 Min Read
wheel on exterior wall of grain bin
WHAT’S HAPPENING INSIDE? What’s happening on the other side of this grain bill wall? Hopefully, nothing — but unless you monitor carefully, you don’t know. Tom J. Bechman

Grain in bins is like money in the bank, with one exception. There are no guards watching it. Keeping it safe is up to you. The biggest threat isn’t likely theft. Instead, it’s that grain could go out of condition, creating monetary losses and hazardous working conditions.

“Now is a great time to pay attention to grain you still have in bins,” says Greg Trame, GSI director of sales technology. “If you’ve invested in monitoring and/or aeration technology, it will earn its keep this spring. But even if you did, you still need to pay attention to what’s happening inside bins.”

Grain bin scenarios

How often you monitor bins and how you manage them depends upon several factors. Here’s a closer look at different scenarios:

Questionable condition. If grain was in questionable condition when it went in the bin, then it needs immediate attention, Trame says. Perhaps there was some ear mold in the corn, or maybe it wasn’t as dry as you liked when it went into storage.

“You need to be monitoring it frequently, and you will likely want to schedule moving it out as soon as you can,” he says. “This isn’t grain you want to take into spring and summer.”

Good condition, short term. Suppose grain went into these bins in good condition, but you know you’re going to move it in early spring, perhaps as early as April.

“Monitor it at least every other week,” Trame says. “If it’s as cold as it should be but you’re sure you’re going to move it early in the spring, you won’t need to warm it up if you don’t want to do so.”

Problem appears. Suppose your goal is holding grain on the farm until spring or longer, but then you notice a problem. You pick up on off odor, or you have monitors and the grain temperature begins rising in a certain spot.

“Get air on it right away,” Trame says. “Turn on fans for a couple of days. If the problem doesn’t go away, then it’s time to move the grain. Otherwise, you are going to have spoilage and loss.”

Long term. For grain that you want to hold into summer, begin warming it up as spring temperatures begin warming up outside, Trame advises.

“We recommend bringing grain temperature up slowly and keeping it within 20 degrees F of the average outside ambient air temperature,” he says. “Some people choose to leave grain cold. It will keep, but when you haul it out on hot summer days, you will have water all over your equipment, due to condensation.”

For long-term storage, once spring arrives, Trame recommends checking bins more often — at least weekly.

“There is a tendency to forget about grain in the bin once planting season arrives and it gets hectic,” he says. “It’s a good idea to make sure someone is responsible for monitoring grain in bins.”

Remember safety

Never enter a bin where some corn has been removed. Condensation and spoilage can lead to a false crust on top. Never enter a bin without having someone with you either.

“Make sure you follow all safety rules that apply to working around grain bins,” Trame says.

Read more about:

Grain Storage

About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Midwest Crops Editor, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman became the Midwest Crops editor at Farm Progress in 2024 after serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer for 23 years. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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