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How to prepare grain for summer storage

Tom J. Bechman grain bins
CHOOSE A METHOD: Either decide to keep grain cold if you’re selling it by late spring, or plan to warm it up gradually, GSI’s Gary Woodruff says.
If you’re holding on to grain into the summer months, here’s what you should know.

You binned your corn at 15.5% last fall with no apparent quality issues. You want to hold it until at least June. What aeration schedule should you follow as it warms up?

Gary Woodruff, district sales manager and grain conditioning expert for GSI, says there are two basic routines.

“If the grain is to be sold by late spring, keeping it as cold as possible until sold works well,” he says. “But once you have made this choice, the grain must be sold by that date since condensation will occur as the warm, moist air hits the much colder corn. The buyer may also not want to accept grain with physical water on it.”

If you intend to store longer, grain should be lower in moisture content, Woodruff says. He recommends keeping it at 14% through next harvest and at 13% if you’re storing longer than that.

Here’s where the aeration system comes in. Use it to keep grain within 10 to 15 degrees F of the average outside temperatures, Woodruff says.

“That is best, as it helps prevent condensation from occurring past the late spring,” he explains. “Many now recommend bringing grain up from the 30-degree-F range to 50 degrees and then holding it there as long as possible. That is my recommendation, as well.”

That scenario works best if you have automated aeration equipment that uses both temperature and humidity of outside air to determine when to run fans, Woodruff says. This practice will keep grain cool, reducing insect and mold activity.

“In the end, only low moisture content at 13% or below can make temperature nearly irrelevant,” Woodruff says. “At that level, all water is chemically bound and unavailable to sustain insects or allow mold growth.”

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