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Gary Woodruff talks to a customer at the National Farm Machinery Show
SOUND ADVICE: GSI’s Gary Woodruff (right) provides advice about when and how to monitor grain in storage to a customer during the National Farm Machinery Show.

Check grain in on-farm storage now

Even if grain went into the bin in good condition, monitoring it regularly pays dividends.

Not everyone was lucky enough to harvest and bin grain in excellent condition in 2019. If you had frost-damaged grain or grain damaged by some other cause, segregate it now, if you haven’t already. Then plan to use it or sell it as soon as possible.

That’s advice from Gary Woodruff, a grain conditioning expert and district manager with GSI. If your grain was in good condition but you plan to store it longer than normal, say past June, make sure corn is 14% or drier and soybeans are 12% or drier. Maintain grain temperature within 10 to 15 degrees F of the outside air temperature to avoid deterioration caused by condensation developing on grain bin interiors.

If you’re an astute manager of stored grain, you probably want to delve beyond this basic advice. Here are questions that Farm Progress posed to Woodruff about monitoring grain in storage:

How often should you check grain in storage during winter? Spring? Summer? Are there situations that would cause you to check more often? Basically, anytime there is grain in a bin, it is important to check the grain regularly — generally, at least every two weeks. Historically, one of the most likely times to see storage issues is when the average temperature in the spring climbs above 50 degrees F, and I usually recommend once-a-week checks during that period. After that, the longer grain is in storage, the higher the temperatures will be and the more likely there will be an issue, so weekly checks would be a good idea.

What does it mean to “monitor or check” grain? Does it mean physically climbing into each bin? You should never enter the bin as any part of normal monitoring. You do need to physically check it, and should climb to the roof entrance to observe the grain. It’s a good idea to check at the aeration fan for issues. In that case, you’re mainly checking for off odors.

What are you looking for when you check grain? Sight? Smell? What equipment do you need? Use all your senses to check for anything out of the ordinary. Your vison and sense of smell and touch can be your best “tools” for regular checks. You also should consider bringing along a thermometer to check the temperature and/or the exiting air temperature of the grain. A moisture tester is essential as well. Periodically, taking a sample from the surface and testing it will help show an issue. Anytime the moisture of the surface of the stored grain increases, there will likely be a storage issue present.

Where do you look? On the surface? Probe? In the center or on edges? Due to the safety risks, it’s best to not enter the bin. Physically check the grain you can touch and see from the roof entrance. A probe used from the roof opening will get you some grain from below the surface, but most issues other than an isolated hot spot will show up on the surface. If more extensive monitoring is desired, a temperature cable system may be in order.

Read more about specific problems in this related story.

TAGS: Crops
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