The quality of grain after harvest in Illinois is better in 2020 than in 2019, says GSI district manager Gary Woodruff. But he says it’s still important to manage for fines, no matter what year it is.
He has the same grain storage advice for farmers who dealt with hail and wind damage earlier in the season as he does for farmers dealing with mold and frost issues during harvest.
“The better job you do harvesting, loading and aerating that damaged grain, the more you reduce the chances you’re going to receive a dock,” Woodruff says.
The following five tips apply to any farmer conditioning damaged grain in an attempt to avoid a dock at the grain elevator.
1. Harvest and sell first. Farmers should prioritize damaged corn following harvest, Woodruff says. For frost-damaged grain, he advises farmers to sell or use it as soon as possible to minimize the chance of catastrophic losses.
“You don’t want damaged grain to sit,” Woodruff says. “Plus, with prices how they are, you’re not going to get as bad of a drop in price in December and January as we normally get. You can sell it for a pretty good price even though you’re selling it early.”
2. Dry 1 point lower. Woodruff says farmers who plan to dry their corn to 15% should dry damaged corn 1 point lower. Serious issues with fines and breakage may warrant 13%, he adds.
Moisture and temperature are the two factors that influence quality of stored grain. Because temperature can only be controlled through aeration, Woodruff says, “Going that extra point on moisture will improve the chances of storing that grain safely by a large margin.”
If soybeans have maturity or condition issues, dry them to 12% instead of the usual 13%, Woodruff says.
3. Core repeatedly. While cleaning grain is an option for excessive fines, it’s not one many farmers can turn to without the proper equipment.
Fines and broken seed accumulate in the middle of grain bins, with a proportionally wider accumulation with larger bins. By coring 300 to 400 bushels out of the center every 10 feet, Woodruff says farmers can reduce fines significantly.
“You’ll avoid issues with unloading, even on your larger bins,” he says. “The larger your bin, the more important it is to core every 10 feet.”
4. Cool grain down faster. Woodruff says it’s important for farmers to bring damaged grain down to 50 degrees F as soon as possible, with a target in the 30s thereafter.
“Grain is just like putting food in the refrigerator. If you get the grain temperature down below 50, it’s going to store for a much longer time period. So you want to do that as quickly as you can, especially for your damaged grain,” he says.
5. Go for ease with a small bin. With low temperatures setting in for the Corn Belt, damaged grain can be brought down to cooler temperatures more quickly if it’s stored in a small bin. Fewer fines accumulate in the center of smaller bins, as well.
“If you can segregate your damaged grain into the smaller, older bins, you should do it. It’s going to help you manage it better, and you’ll have less of an issue with the centers,” Woodruff says.