Some of you still have grain in your bins. It’s money in the bank, but only if it stays in good condition. Specialists say it’s your responsibility to protect your investment with routine monitoring.
Gary Woodruff, GSI conditioning applications manager, typically fields questions from people who are still storing grain into the summer. Here is a recent question-and-answer dialogue with Woodruff.
IPF: If you have grain in storage now, how often should you check it?
Woodruff: We recommend pressure or upward air movement for all aeration. Without entering the bin, check the grain weekly or biweekly for crusting or an off smell.
IPF: What else are you checking for?
Woodruff: Any increase in grain moisture on the surface is an early indication of problems. If a problem occurs, turn on the aeration, but it’s best to move out-of-condition grain as soon as possible.
IPF: What is the biggest thing that can cause grain stored this long to go out of condition?
Woodruff: The first key is the initial moisture of the grain. If it is above 15%, there will be deterioration and loss of dry matter, even if the grain seems to be in good condition, and even if there is no “dock” at the elevator.
IPF: What is the next factor that could derail well-stored grain?
Woodruff: The next most important factor is grain temperature. Through June 1, grain can be left cold as long as the fan and discharge openings are sealed. But remember, you can’t change your mind and decide to store past June 1 (or early June) if you leave the grain cold.
IPF: What if you are keeping grain longer?
Woodruff: If grain is kept longer, its temperature needs to be kept within 10 degrees F of the average ambient temperature until it is 50 degrees F. Once the grain gets above 50 degrees F, the threat from insects and mold increases.
IPF: If you know grain is going to be in storage for three months, six months, 12 months or more than 12 months, what moisture percentage should you shoot for?
Woodruff: Since only moisture and temperature affect storage life, it’s important to set final storage moisture based on how long it will be stored. For corn the safe moistures are as follows: 15% to store grain through spring, or about six months; 14% to store grain until the next harvest, or about a year; and 13% for going past 12 months. Small grains should be no wetter than 13% for normal storage, lowered to 12% if the grain will be stored for longer than a year.