Anytime growers decide to put corn into storage, and especially when they plan to store it for several months, they need to manage the grain properly to keep it from spoiling. That includes drying corn to a safer moisture level when it comes out of the field and then properly cleaning, loading, aerating and monitoring it.
"This will require adequately drying to 14-14.5% for long-term storage," says Klein Ileleji, Purdue Extension grain handling specialist. "Think of grain in the bin as cash in the bank. Without good management, this 'cash' can go out of condition, quickly eroding your investment."
Ileleji offers some tips for farmers to keep their grain in top shape.
1. Cleaning: Growers need to remove all of the food sources and harboring spots for rodents and insects around their storage facilities. This includes cleaning up grain spills and mowing surrounding vegetation. It also means cleaning handling equipment, including augers, cleaners and dryers, at the end of each use.
2. Loading: When grain is being loaded into a bin, farmers need to use loading methods that minimize broken kernels and fine material and remove foreign material. Leaving broken kernels, fines and foreign material can make stored grain more susceptible to insect infestation, mold and spoilage because it reduces initial grain quality and aeration efficiency.
3. Aeration: This is the method of cooling grain with ambient air after drying it to decrease insect activity and mold development. Growers need to run bin fans to reduce grain temperature to below 40° F, and maintain cool temperatures into the late spring and summer. Using exhaust vents also will help control condensation on the inside roof and headspace walls of grain bins.
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4. Monitor: Farmers need to monitor their stored grain at a frequency determined by the initial grain quality, moisture content, temperature and whether there has been extreme weather. The higher the ambient temperature, the more frequently bins should be checked. In fall, spring and summer, they need to be checked every one to two weeks. In winter, that can be reduced to once a month.
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