Farm Progress

Future income may depend on passing this 5-question quiz

The grain in your bin isn't money in the bank until it's delivered to the elevator.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

November 29, 2016

3 Min Read

Fall 2016 was a record-setter in many areas for a late frost. It featured many warm days. That was great for harvest, maybe not so good for storing grain. Dan Arnholt says it’s not too late to prevent potential issues with grain quality set up by the warm fall, but you need to act now.

Arnholt farms with his wife and son at Columbus. He learned about grain storage while working with farmers in his former career with an electric company.

See if you can pass this simple five-question quiz. Whether you know the answers or not, you pass if it motivates you to start checking grain bins now, Arnholt says.


1. True or false: As soon as the outside temperature drops, the temperature inside the grain mass drops, whether you aerate or not.

False.  Arnholt says that since grain is a good insulator, grain in the center of the bin will stay much warmer than the outside temperature unless you cool it down by aeration. He recommends cooling the grain about 10 degrees per aeration cycle.

2. True or false: If you turn on the fans to cool down grain and it starts raining, shut off the fans and wait for dry weather.

False. Once you start an aeration cycle, you need to keep fans running until it’s finished, Arnholt says. Otherwise, moisture will collect where the cooling front stops, and a crust will form. Not only will grain go out of condition there, but also the crust will prevent airflow from moving up through the grain mass when you begin aerating again.

3. True or false: When determining how long it will take for a complete aeration cycle to move through the grain mass, it’s fan capacity that matters, not size of the bin.

True.  It may take from a day to a week or more to complete one cooling cycle, depending on the size of the fan, Arnholt says. Storage bins typically are equipped with much smaller fans than drying bins. What matters is how many cubic feet of airflow per minute per bushel a fan can create, Arnholt explains. Size of the bin doesn’t factor into that equation.

4. True or false: Grain may go out of condition faster in a very large bin compared to a smaller bin.

True. It’s because there is simply a much larger mass of grain to cool in a timely manner, Arnholt says. Monitor what’s happening in all bins, starting with your largest-capacity bins.

5. True or false: If heating inside the grain mass gets ahead of you, it may pay to empty the bin and re-dry or sell the grain.

True. If heating has already started inside the grain mass and you can’t aerate it quickly enough, emptying the bin may be your best option, Arnholt suggests.

Editor’s note: Watch for more stories coming soon on how to cool down grain and manage it properly through winter.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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