Stored grain this fall: cool it, core it, check it

Stored grain this fall: cool it, core it, check it

Iowa State specialists are advising farmers to run fans and cool down the warm grain that's in the bin.

In the past couple of weeks a lot of corn and soybeans was harvested in Iowa and it went into storage with temperatures in the 60- to 70-degree F range. With grain this warm, moisture migration within the grain mass and spoilage can occur very quickly, even with fairly dry grain. That caution comes from Greg Brenneman and Shawn Shouse, Iowa State University Extension ag engineering specialists. They provide the following information and recommendations for aerating grain to cool it down and help prevent it from going bad in the bin.

COOL IT: Corn and soybeans have gone into bins this fall in warm weather. With grain this warm, moisture migration within the grain mass occurs and grain can quickly start to spoil. Remove the center core of grain and fines from bins and aerate the grain on low-humidity days.

Don't let good grain go bad in the bin; cool it to keep it
With average daily temperatures soon to be in the low to mid-40s, the newly stored grain should be cooled down as soon as possible. "While stored grain should be cooled to 30 to 40 degrees for winter storage, the sooner we get grain temperatures down, the better," says Brenneman. "Fans might need to be run several times during the fall to get grain down to wintertime storage temperatures."

The time required to completely cool a bin of grain depends on fan size. In general terms, a large drying fan will take 10 to 20 hours to cool a bin of grain, he notes. However, a small aeration fan can take a week or more to completely cool a full bin. In either case, it is best to measure the temperature of the air coming out of the grain to see if cooling is complete. It is also much better to error on the side of running the fan too long rather than turn it off too soon.

Also, you need to "core" each of your bins to remove fines
Now is also a good time to "core" each of your bins to remove fines that have accumulated in the center of the bin, says Shouse. When coring a bin after filling, remove about half the peak height for improved aeration. After coring, the top of the grain should be visually inspected to ensure an inverted cone has been created. If no cone is created, bridging of the grain has taken place and a very unsafe condition has been created. No one should enter the bin until situation has been safely corrected.

If grain is dried down to the proper moisture and correctly cooled, it should store very well through the winter, the ISU specialists say. "Even so, it is best to check stored grain at least every two weeks during the winter and once a week in warmer weather," notes Shouse. "To do a good job checking grain, inspect and probe the grain for crusting, damp grain and warm spots. Also, run the fan for just a few minutes and smell the exhaust air for any off odors."

Be sure you are doing a good job of checking stored grain
For more details, order a copy of "Managing Dry Grain in Storage" AED-20 from Midwest Plan Service at  or check out more grain drying and storage information at

Many farmers are favoring storing corn instead of soybeans since there isn't a carry in the market to store beans. Farmers are storing their grain until prices improve. That may take a while. According to USDA's Grain Stocks Report released Sept. 30, as of September 1 this fall there were 409 million bushels of corn, beans and oats stored in Iowa; 138.6 million bushels were stored on farms. A larger share of this year's crop is being stored on farms, and some of the grain will likely be stored in the bins until 2017.

TAGS: USDA Extension
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