Grain producers need to consider that question every fall, said Ted Funk, a University of Illinois Extension agricultural and biological engineer.
“Harvest time will be here before we know it,” says Funk, “and producers could be storing $20,000 to $40,000 of grain in a 10,000-bu. bin. It's a wise investment to prepare the bin and the grain for storage.”
Grain quality can be maintained in storage if it's managed properly, says Funk. In preparing a bin for storage, repair any holes, but don't seal aeration openings. Clean the inside of the bin and examine the ducts for debris and insects. Also clean outside the bin and service aeration ducts, fans and vents.
Grain stores best when it is dry, clean and cool, says Funk.
“Weed seeds and foreign material are usually wetter than the grain, and will accumulate in the center when the grain is loaded into a bin,” Funk says. “That material should be removed from the grain.”
He says temperature also plays an important role in grain storage.
Insects and mold thrive at temperatures between 70° and 90° F,” he notes. “Temperatures below 70° reduce insect reproduction and feeding activity, and below 50° insects become dormant. Mold growth is extremely slow below 30° and 40°.”
For winter storage, grain should be cooled to a temperature of 20°-30° in northern states, and 30°-40° in southern states. Allowable storage time is almost doubled for every 10° that grain is cooled.”
Funk recommends checking stored grain bi-weekly during critical fall and spring months when outside temperatures are changing rapidly.
“Monitor your stored grain so insect infestations or grain spoilage can be detected before serious losses occur,” says Funk.
Condensation on the roof or grain-surface crusting can also be indications of a problem, Funk says. In addition, “Probe to examine grain below the surface,” he advises. “Bring a sample indoors, warm it to room temperature and then place it on a white surface and examine for insect activity.”
Producers can obtain more information about dry grain aeration and grain handling and storage from the MidWest Plan Service at www.MWPS.org  or call 800-562-3618.