Dakota Farmer

Stored grain can warm up quickly in March due to the angle of the sun on steel bin walls.

March 2, 2018

2 Min Read
SUN’S HEAT: Warming of grain next to the south bin wall is a problem in the spring. Because of the angle of the sun, more heating occurs on the south wall of a bin on March 1 than in mid-summer.romaset/iStock/Thinkstock

If you’re storing a lot of grain now — and who isn’t? — make sure you take steps to keep it cool as we move into March.

“Not only will daytime temperatures be increasing, but the bin works as a solar collector,” says Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University Extension agricultural engineer.

Because of the angle of the sun, more heating occurs on the south wall of a grain bin in the Northern Plains on March 1 than during the middle of the summer.

“This heats the grain next to the bin wall to temperatures exceeding average outside temperatures,” Hellevang says. “This is of more concern if the grain exceeds recommended storage moisture contents.”

He recommends running aeration fans periodically during the spring to keep the grain temperature cool, preferably near 30 degrees F in the northern part of the country during March and April and below 40 degrees F in southern regions.

Nighttime temperatures typically are near or below 30 degrees F in March and below 40 degrees F in April across the north-central region of the U.S.

Sensor limitations
“Temperature sensors are an excellent tool, but remember that they only measure the temperature of the grain next to the sensor,” Hellevang says. “Because grain is an excellent insulator, the grain temperature may be much different just a few feet from the sensor and not affect the measured temperature.”

He encourages placing a temperature cable a few feet from the south wall of a bin.

Cover fans
Aeration fans or ducts should be covered when not operating. The wind and a natural chimney effect will push warm, moist spring air through the grain. If the wind blows primarily during the daytime, the grain will be warmed to the daily maximum temperature. Typical maximum temperatures, even in northern states in late March, are in the mid-40s and increase in late April to around 60 degrees F.

Source: NDSU

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