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Maintain Grain Quality in Storage

Now is the time to start getting bins ready for harvest.

Harvest will be here before you know it. Iowa State University Extension ag engineering field specialists are advising farmers to think about storage before they fill their bins. Summer is the time to get bins ready for harvest.

They suggest farmers take the following steps for preparing a bin for storage:

  • Repair any holes that may allow water to enter. Look for holes by looking for sunlight coming into the bin. But do not seal openings intended for aeration.
  • Thoroughly clean the inside of the empty bin using brooms and/or a vacuum.
  • Examine the inside of aeration ducts for the presence of debris and insects.
  • Service the aeration ducts, fans and vents to ensure proper operation.
  • Clean around the outside of bins.

You can get more information about dry grain aeration and grain handling and storage from two publications: "Dry Grain Aeration Systems Design Handbook," MWPS 29; or "Grain Drying, Handling and Storage Handbook," MWPS-13. Both are available through Midwest Plan Service.

As a further value, these books are available in a grain handling package along with "Managing Dry Grain in Storage," AED-20 and "Low Temperature and Solar Grain Drying Handbook," MWPS 22. The four publications together are a great reference set and available for $40 for the bundle. For more information go to, e-mail, or call 800-562-3618.

Don't forget about stored grain

Grain quality needs to be maintained in storage, and it can be if you manage it properly. It is a wise investment of time to spend a few hours to maintain the $20,000 to $40,000 value of grain stored in a 10,000-bushel bin.

Grain stores best when it is dry, clean and cool. Weed seeds and fine foreign material, which are usually wetter than the grain, will accumulate in the center when loaded into a bin, causing storage problems. This material should be removed from the grain. Use a grain cleaner before storage; unload some grain using a center take-out after the bin has been filled, or distribute the material while filling the bin.

Temperature plays an important role in grain storage. The optimum temperature for insects is between 70 degrees F and 90 degrees F. Therefore, grain should not be stored at this temperature. Cooling below 70 degrees F reduces insect reproduction and feeding activity, and cooling below 50 degrees F causes the insects to become dormant.

The optimum temperature for mold growth is also about 80 degrees F. Mold growth is extremely slow below 30 to 40 degrees F. The expected grain allowable storage time is approximately doubled for each 10 degrees that the grain is cooled.

Timing to aerate grain is critical

Aeration should be used to cool the grain whenever the outside air is cooler than the grain. It should be cooled to? outdoor temperatures are 10-15 a temperature of about 20-30 degrees F in northern states and 30-40 degrees F in southern states for winter storage. The time required to cool grain weighing 56 to 60 pounds per bushel using aeration can be estimated by dividing 15 by the airflow rate.

For example, the grain will cool in about 75 hours using an airflow rate of 0.2 cubic feet per minute per bushel. Air takes the path of least resistance, so cooling times will vary in the storage. Measure grain temperature at several locations to assure that all the grain has been cooled. Stored grain must be monitored so insect infestations or grain spoilage can be detected before serious losses occur.

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