Farm Progress

As you monitor grain throughout the winter, take precautions to do so in a safe manner.

Paula Mohr, Editor, The Farmer

December 7, 2016

2 Min Read
WINTER STORAGE: Keep grain in good condition with aeriation. Depending on the issue, moving grain until the problem area is found may be the only way to solve it.Photo courtesy of GSI

Following university guidelines for short-and long-term grain storage is always important — even more so now, as some areas are experiencing mold issues, says Gary Woodruff, GSI district manager.

“It’s too late to change the storage moisture, so we are limited to what we have for moisture in the bin for how long good-quality grain can be safely stored,” he says.

To maintain quality in corn that will be stored through June, the moisture should be no more than 15%, Woodruff says. To store corn until next fall, moisture should be around 14%. And if you are storing it for longer than that, shoot for 13%.

 “Storing above these moistures will see respiration in the corn, reducing grade and contributing to fines and other storage problems, thus reducing the value of the grain,” he says, adding, “Most other crops should be stored at 13% — or at 12% if they will be stored for a long period.”

Ideally, farmers should check stored grain weekly. If not, it should be checked every two weeks, Woodruff says. And when doing so, keep safety priority No. 1.

“Do not enter the bin while checking for an off smell or any crusting at the surface of the grain,” he says. Instead, collect a sample and check moisture at the surface. Any increase in grain moisture is a good indication that there are problems in the grain mass. If you detect anything, run aeration fans to try to help with the issue.

“Unfortunately, with today’s larger bins, this will probably not be enough,” Woodruff adds. “Moving grain until the problem area is found will be the most likely way to definitely end the issue.”

When it’s time to market, again the priority is operator safety.

“Zero entry any time grain is moving is the best practice,” Woodruff says. “If you followed the grain moisture and temperature recommendations, it is highly unlikely you will have any issues moving the grain. However, if you didn’t, it will become difficult to get the out-of-condition grain out of the bin. If the grain stops moving, do not get into the bin to try to get it moving. Do not open auxiliary wells away from the center, as this can cause damage to the bin.”

Woodruff suggests checking university websites for recommendations, or contacting your bin dealer for advice on safe ways to deal with this issue.

“Always wear breathing equipment any time you are moving grain, or in the bin cleaning,” he says. “Even a simple paper mask labeled for mold is better than exposing yourself to possible illness. Fall-protection equipment should be in use when working away from the ladder, with a safety cage or platform with railing.”

To learn more about maintaining grain condition in winter, read what University of Minnesota Extension specialists suggest here

About the Author(s)

Paula Mohr

Editor, The Farmer

Mohr is former editor of The Farmer.

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