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Protect investment inside grain bins

TAGS: Crops
Tom J. Bechman trucks driving through field
ALWAYS MONITOR: Even in falls like 2020 when grain comes out of the field in good condition, it still needs regular monitoring in the bin until it’s sold.
Follow these tips to maintain grain in good condition in your bins.

If you still have grain stored on the farm, are you confident it will be as high of quality when you pull it out as when you put it in? Gary Woodruff, district sales manager and grain conditioning expert for GSI, suggests taking steps to protect your investment inside your bins.

The biggest step may be adjusting your mindset to realize that even though last fall’s grain was higher quality than what was binned in 2019, monitoring grain regularly is still important.

Related: Check grain bins for structural integrity to prevent tragedy

“Not practicing vigilant monitoring of stored grain is always a very bad idea,” Woodruff says. “Even with properly cleaned grain at safe moistures in the 13% to 15% range, things like leaks or snow blown in under the roof can occur. Checking bins is always necessary.”

In this interview, Woodruff makes other key points about monitoring grain:

There were less fines last fall. Did farmers still need to core bins? In the past, with small-diameter bins and the regular use of screened cleaners, not coring bins may have been possible. Today, with larger diameters and near nonexistence of on-farm grain cleaning, not just coring once the bin is full, but repetitive coring every 10 to 15 feet of depth is the best practice.

Since fines concentrate in the middle and can’t be thrown more than about 10 feet without the use of spreaders with long chutes, repetitive coring is a must to reliably prevent center heating and plugging when the bin is unloaded. Remove grain until the top of the cone is at least 10 feet in diameter.

The last corn I harvested was 14% out of the field and went straight into the bin. How do I aerate and care for it? Should I try to raise moisture back to 15% to regain weight? Running the aeration when filling and then for about 10 days after helps equalize the kernel moisture and give storage a good start. Pulling the peak down until the center is as low as the outside wall will promote center aeration. Further leveling if possible is a good idea as well. Corn does not pick up moisture fast, but the use of an automated equilibrium-type aeration controller can help bring at least some of the grain back up if it’s too dry.

Again, in today’s large bins, there will not be time to bring all grain up in moisture completely. Remember, how long the grain will be stored, no matter its quality or condition, will determine if it needs to be below 15% to keep the grain safe. Soybeans take up moisture much quicker, and positive results from an automated control system will work better than with corn.

How often should bins be checked this season? How should those checks be done? For grain in very good condition, two weeks between physical checks is usually recommended, with weekly checks called for if there are any concerns for grain quality. Though bin monitoring equipment is a great idea to help keep grain safe, it doesn’t remove the need for a physical check at least every two weeks.

How can farmers best avoid grain entrapment scenarios? Injuries and death are nearly always in conjunction with out-of-condition grain. Any hoped-for savings from cutting corners on proper storage are almost never realized.

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