April's Ag Advice by April Borders Harvest season is drawing to an end and it seems like now that you are done you can kick back and rest. But what did you do with all that grain that you harvested? Hopefully you sold it for a good price but if you didn't you might be storing that grain on your farm.
Sometimes that storage is for a short period of time but sometimes it can turn into extended periods. If you are looking at extended periods of storage, you need to take steps to preserve the quality of your grain and prevent loss from insect damage.
The market value of infested grain may be substantially reduced if the number of insect-damaged kernels is sufficient to lower the grade of the grain (total damage factor), or if the number of insects causes the grain to be designated "infested" on the grade certificate. Much of this loss can be prevented with an integrated approach to stored grain pest management including sanitation, prevention and regular monitoring of grain.
Several types of insects attack stored grains. These can be grouped into three major types: internal, external and surface feeders. Internal feeders are potentially the most damaging and difficult to manage because the larval stage develops completely within the grain kernel. This makes detection and chemical control more difficult. Internal feeders include the granary and rice weevils, most often simply called weevils. Although they are not very abundant in our stored grains, tolerance for weevils by merchants is lower than for the other two groups of pests.
External feeders are those insects that feed on the outside of the kernel. They feed mostly on broken or damaged kernels. Insects in this group are the sawtoothed grain beetles and the red and confused flour beetles. They are referred to as "bran bugs."
The most common surface feeder in stored grain is the Indian meal moth. Larvae of this insect feed externally on the grain kernels spinning webs around several kernels. Infestations of Indian meal moths generally are restricted to the surface of the grain mass.
Even though you cleaned your bins and got them ready for storage, doesn't mean that you can sit back and do nothing. Monitoring stored grain is an excellent way to stay on top of these pests.
Storing clean, dry grain is essential for reducing problems in long term storage. The moisture content of your stored grain is very important. Moisture for corn should be less that 15 percent, while other grains should be at 12 percent or less. Minimize cracked kernels and other dockage as they allow grain pests to build up at much lower temperatures then those required for whole grains.
Proper aeration of the grain will ensure uniform temperatures and thus avoid moisture buildup that encourages mold development. Molds not only affect your grain value but mold provides an alternate food source for some grain pests, which can increase the insect problem. Protect your grain, if necessary, by treating it as it is placed into storage. Check the chemical label for proper dosages and application procedures.
Inspect your grain regularly. Below 55 to 60 degrees F, inspect grain every two weeks; above this temperature, inspect the grain weekly. This will help you detect new infestations early and avoid extensive damage. Inspect both the center of the pile and the area near the walls. Use a grain probe to take the samples.
During probing, "hot spots" may be found on the grain surface or off odors may be detected. These are indications of insect activity and should be checked. During the colder months, the insects will congregate in the center of the grain mass, so sampling at that location will be important. Sift the probe content through a 10-12 mesh screen and examine for insects.
Take time to monitor your stored grains. For more information call Extension office at 677-7111.