Did you turn on the bin unloader to load your semi with corn this winter, and nothing came out? If this happened to you, you learned about grain storage through the school of hard knocks. If corn always flowed out perfectly, you’re either a good manager or lucky. Unless you know you’re an excellent grain manager, Gary Woodruff suggests you continue reading.
Some grain storage issues with the 2019 corn crop were set up by harvesting wet corn that broke up into fines more easily than normal. Situations like last fall take careful management, says Woodruff, GSI district manager and grain storage expert.
In this interview with Farm Progress, Woodruff shares recommendations based on lessons learned in the 2019-20 grain storage season:
What were some of the major mistakes people made in the fall of 2019 that led to grain storage issues? First, they put grain into the bin at too high of a moisture level. Second, there wasn’t enough management of fines. This led to a very high rate of plugging of unloading augers when they tried to unload from the bin and market the grain.
How important is it to core bins in the fall after filling in relation to preventing problems? It’s very important, but a single coring, particularly in a stressed grain year like 2019, isn’t enough. The bins should have been cored at every 6 to 10 feet of grain depth to remove a much higher percentage of fines. These repetitive cores only take about 300 bushels out each time, but it makes a very significant difference on aeration of the center of the bin. With less spoilage, it will greatly reduce plugging issues when moving grain.
The only thing that could replace repetitive coring is using a large-diameter gravity spreader with very long chutes, which spread the fines over a larger percentage of the grain mass within the bin. GSI’s AgriDry grain spreader is designed to accomplish this job.
What did farmers learn about the importance of regular monitoring and early detection of problems last year? We didn’t learn anything new, but the much higher level of out-of-condition grain and unloading problems pushed home the message that proper management while loading the bin is the only way to prevent problems. The earlier a problem is found, the better. But the only real solution is to not have the problem in the first place.
Can you review moisture goal guidelines for corn depending upon how long you will keep it? Guidelines have been around for a very long time. They’re based on physics of free available water, and when mold and insects can use that water. The drier the grain, the less mold and insect activity can occur, allowing a longer safe storage life.
If grain will be sold before ambient temperatures average 50 degrees F in April or May, no grain should be above 15%. If it will be stored into the summer up to the next fall harvest, it needs to be no higher than 14%. If grain could be stored a year or more, it needs to be 13%.