As outdoor temperatures warm up, protecting the quality of stored grain is especially important. Here are five tips to properly manage your grain bins this summer.
- Raise the grain temperature as outside weather heats up. A large temperature differential can cause condensation to form inside bins, leading to grain spoilage. When the sunlight hits the bins, they really warm up. This isn’t something you need to worry about on a day-to-day basis, but the goal is to keep the two temperatures as close together as possible by slowly warming up the grain with aeration. The industry standard is a temperature differential of no more than 10 degrees.
- Factor in grain moisture. In addition to grain temperature, optimal storage conditions also depend on the grain’s moisture level when stored. To help make this determination, you can obtain safe storage charts from university extension services and other resources.
- Use automated bin monitoring tools. Farmers are busy during the spring and summer getting everything done, and it’s easy to forget about the grain in their bins. Tools for remote monitoring are really important for alerting growers about temperature or moisture issues before they can become serious problems. One example is GSI’s new GrainVue digital cable system that detects early signs of spoilage and automatically turns on aeration fans to project grain quality.
- Check grain weekly. Climb safely to the top of the bin and – while not entering to avoid the risk of entrapment – visually inspect the top layer of grain and around the interior wall. Any signs of crusting could mean grain spoilage. Spoilage can also be detected by smell. If you see or smell something you don’t like, it’s important to get aeration fans going to let in fresh air and equalize the bin and outdoor temperatures.
- Move spoiled grain. If grain crusting is present, but in a small amount, blending that off may solve the issue. However, it’s hard to know how far down the problem goes. If you can’t get it under control, it’s important to move that grain out of the bin and market it as quickly as possible, even though it may receive a docking at sale. The bigger problem is leaving out of condition grain in the bin, which can cause clogging during unloading and lead to a series of unsafe events.
Safe storage should be based on your grain marketing plan. If you plan to store grain through the summer, that means drying the grain in the fall to the proper moisture. It stars with planning up front based on your marketing plan.
For additional grain management recommendations contact your local university extension service, GSI dealer or visit www.grainsystems.com.