Reading about a specialist reminding you to check your grain bins every two weeks during winter storage for signs of trouble may seem like hearing a doctor say an apple a day keeps him away. Knowing it's a good practice is one thing. Putting it high enough on the priority list may be quite another. Once the grain is in the bin, out of sight can translate into out of mind.
Even if you've never followed through with good intentions to check bins before, this is the year to do it, insists Richard Stroshine, a Purdue University grain quality specialist. Some of you put good quality grain into the bin. But many of you were plagued by molds, low test weight and other problems, some stemming from handling very wet corn.
That's a recipe for corn that won't keep as easily or as long as normal in the bin, the expert says.
"Run the fans for 15 minutes or so and smell to see if you detect unusual odors," he advises. That's a good place to start your every-other-week checking process.
If you have temperature cables, pay attention to the readings. If a hot spot develops, deal with it immediately. But even if you don't see anything unusual in the cable readouts, it doesn't mean you're in the clear. Grain is a good insulator, Stroshine says. Depending upon the density of cables within the storage facility, it's possible to have cable sensors showing normal temperatures, yet have a hot spot developing in the bin just far enough away from the closest sensor that nothing is showing up- yet.
If you don't have cables, or if you would feel better going one step further, there's a simple, inexpensive way to do your own temperature test, he notes. From the top of the grain surface, insert a long, steel rod into the mass. Let it stay there up to 15 minutes. Pull it out and feel the rod. If it's warm or hot, it likely detected a hot spot. This method isn't foolproof, however, since it won't likely reach to the bottom of the bin, and since you likely won't run an unlimited number of tests. Hot spots could be missed with this method as well. But if a problem ahs reached the serious stage, it could possibly pick it up so that you know something needs to be done.