Management at harvesttime as well as during storage is important to protect the quality and profitability of stored grain.
Gary Woodruff is a grain conditioning expert with GSI, a grain bin and grain handling equipment company. He offers six recommendations to help farmers avoid income loss from grain going out-of-condition:
1. Store at proper moisture. “A common misperception,” Woodruff says, “is that corn grain can be held above 15% moisture without risking quality.” He recommends the moisture content not exceed 15% for storage through the following spring, no higher than 14% through the following fall and at 13% for a full year.
2. Run aeration fans. As grain enters the bin, run aeration fans to equalize kernel grain moisture, which typically takes five to 10 days and puts the grain in the best shape to store safely. “Also, it’s important to watch the ambient temperature (temperature of the outside air) and use aeration fans to get the grain temperature below 50 degrees F as soon as possible,” he says. “Nearly all insect and mold activity ceases below this temperature.”
3. Pull down peaked gain. Soon after harvest, pull peaked grain down so the center is just below the corn at the bin wall. “The grain will look somewhat like the letter ‘M’ from the side, promoting air movement in the center. Alternatively, leveling at this point is also a good practice,” he says.
4. Store cold grain short term. Leave the grain cold only if it will be delivered before June. “But make sure you seal the fan entrances and discharge opening to keep high-humidity air out,” Woodruff notes. “If you are not leaving grain cold or are storing into June or later, maintain grain temperatures within 10 degrees to 15 degrees of the outside air to avoid grain deterioration caused by condensation developing on grain bin interiors.”
5. Check grain weekly. Climb to the top of the bin, without entering, and observe whether there is a crust or any noticeable smell. “An increase in surface moisture usually is the first sign of problems,” he warns.
6. Don’t completely empty one bin at a time. Instead, when it is time to sell the grain, Woodruff recommends taking partial amounts from multiple bins to form the letter “M” and move the remaining grain around. “That not only promotes air movement. but also reduces the risk of grain plugging the discharge,” he says.
Woodruff says in some fields, stalk quality has been compromised by disease and recent, excessive rainfall. “This can lead to downed corn, which can result in mold and dirt that can create additional storage issues,” he says. “In other areas, corn has dried down much more quickly this fall due to hot, dry weather earlier in the fall. Remember that very dry corn, if left standing too long in the field, increases grain loss exponentially.”
For out-of-condition grain issues that cannot be remedied by aeration of the stored grain, Woodruff says the only fix is to unload the bin down to where the affected grain can be removed. “This likely means the grain will have to be marketed early, and poor grain quality may receive a dock at the elevator.”
He also encourages Iowa farmers to always consult their local Iowa State University Extension crop specialist for area-specific recommendations since conditions vary widely, and what works in one state or area of the state may not work in another.
Also, for additional information, farmers can contact their GSI dealer or visit grainsystems.com.
Source: GSI Grain Systems