With near-record high prices for corn and soybeans, you definitely want to take good care of stored grain this year. Now that winter temperatures have arrived, it's time to manage the temperature of grain in on-farm bins for winter storage.
"You can control mold activity and the air currents that can move through grain and cause moisture migration," says Shawn Shouse, an Iowa State University Extension ag engineering specialist. "You do that by cooling stored corn to 30 to 40 degrees for winter storage in Iowa."
Check the grain temperature by sticking a probe or thermometer into the grain. Or turn on the aeration fans and measure temperature of air leaving the grain. "Run the aeration fans when the average outdoor temperature is around 35 degrees. A large drying fan may cool a bin in half a day, while a small aeration fan may require approximately a week to get the grain cooled down," says Shouse.
Run the fan continuously until the cooling front moves completely through the grain. Once the grain is cooled, check it weekly for evidence of temperature rise or a moldy smell. Keep a log book and write the grain temperature down each week, so you can see if it is changing. If the grain is getting warmer, that's a sign you'd better take action to keep the grain from spoiling.
Good sources for managing stored grain are the Midwest Plan Service guide "Managing Dry Grain in Storage," AED-20, at www.mwps.org and the University of Minnesota site www.extensionl.umn.edu/distribution/cropsystems/DCI1327.html.