Reports from the heartland indicate there are grain storage issues present. Gary Woodruff, GSI district manager, addresses three questions about stored grain that deserve your attention.
For farmers holding grain into early summer, what do you recommend for protecting grain quality? Spring is often the first opportunity to find out how well you prepared your grain to store safely. If you properly stored grain at 15% and thus need to market it in the next month or so, leave it cold, and load and deliver it. But if you planned for longer-term storage to late summer by drying down to 14% or 13%, start rewarming the grain to keep the difference in temperature from causing condensation, which leads to condition problems.
In general, it’s best for there not to be more than a 15-degree-F difference in grain and average ambient temperature. But the cooler the grain, the better and longer it will store.
Bring the grain up to around 50 degrees, where insect and mold activity is kept to a minimum, and hold it there by running aeration when temperatures allow. Once the average temperature is in the 70s, bring it up again and hold it there, if you can, until you market the grain.
This process takes good management and careful attention to average temperatures and conditions. An automated aeration control system like GSI’s Bullseye Controller does this for you, removing the need for significant management through the rest of the summer.
If farmers don’t use an automatic aeration controller, how frequently should they check grain temperature and moisture content? Regular weekly or biweekly checks are essential. Aeration timing is important, but you must be prepared to react to variable conditions. If the temperature goes up quickly and stays, take action. Monitor at least weekly. It’s better to watch daily average temperatures and react as necessary.
If there is condensation on the interior of the bin wall, what can farmers do? It’s too late if the bin is larger than a 20-foot eave drying bin with 1 cubic foot per minute per bushel of airflow. You can run fans to dissipate moisture, but it must be caught early with a quick response.
Aeration in today’s larger storage bins has just one job. That’s to change the temperature of the mass of grain, not save it. If it’s a storage bin with even the so-called big air level of aeration, condensation means it’s time to start fans and start moving grain until the affected grain is removed. Trying to fix a problem in a 48-foot, 12-ring bin or larger with high airflow will almost never work. It’s not worth the risk of losing more grain.
Remember, doing the best job you can do to maintain your grain quality for you to sell and the end customer to have a usable product is the last, but possibly most important, part of the production year.
Also, as you load out and market your grain this summer, remember to do so safely. Grain entrapments nearly always occur when out-of-condition grain is a factor. Follow university recommendations on how to deal with out-of-condition grain and keep everyone safe.