April's Ag Advice by April Borders As we move towards harvest season, we need to look at how we are going to store these crops. As we combine, that crop should be considered as number one grade, but if we store it improperly, we could jeopardize our grain quality forever. Once grain quality is lost, it is lost forever and nothing can be done to improve it.
It is essential to clean bins and equipment before harvest. Your new grain should be free of insects at harvest but it can become infested by insects if there was old grain left over in storages bins and harvesting and handling equipment. Use brooms and shop vacuums to clean the grain and grain dust from walls, floors, cracks and seams in the combine, grain carts, trucks, and in the grain bin at least two weeks prior to harvest. A rule of thumb is, if you can tell what crop was harvested or stored before, it isn't clean enough.
If you plan on carrying grain into the summer months, a residual chemical treatment may be applied to bin surfaces after empty bins are thoroughly cleaned. Be especially careful to treat cracks and seams where insects can hide. Always follow label directions carefully.
There are many factors during harvest that are out of our control, but there are two factors that a farmer can control that have a direct bearing on the quality of grain coming out of storage: moisture content and temperature of grain in storage. Your goal should be to dry corn to 15 percent and soybeans to 13 percent moisture content, then cool to 50-55 degrees F as soon as possible after harvest to reduce degradation in quality.
The time required to dry grain depends on: the initial moisture content of the grain, the airflow rate (cubic feet per minute per bushel, cfm/bu), the humidity and temperature of the incoming air and the heat rise if using a heated air drying system.
For batch-in-bin drying, the depth of grain to put into the bin for drying should vary according to the initial moisture content of the grain. Shallower grain depths create less resistance to airflow (static pressure). When static pressure is lower, the fan can produce greater total air flow (cfm). Greater airflow moving through fewer bushels in the bin results in much greater cfm/bu. The absolute minimum recommended airflow rates for natural air drying of corn would be 2 cfm/bu for 23 percent, 1 cfm/bu for 21 percent, and 0.5 cfm/bu for 18 percent moisture.
If you are using natural air to dry grain in the bin, run the fan continuously, rain or shine, until the moisture content is within two percentage points of the final goal and the grain temperature is under 50 dregrees F. Once you have reached that point and if you can closely monitor grain temperature, you may switch to intermittent fan operation and operate when the humidity and air temperature will allow additional drying.
To help reduce the risk of a break down once your bin is filled, check the electrical systems. Check for corroded connections and frayed wiring. Mice like to nest inside electrical boxes where they are safe from predators. They will strip insulation from wires for nesting material and their urine causes corrosion. While inspecting control boxes, be sure to seal openings where mice could get in.
For more information on storing grain call the Extension Office at 677-7111.