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Storing Grain At Harvest Time

August 31st 2011

 By Dave Cubbon, P Ag

 As I am writing this article, it looks like it is going to be a warm week next week.  Warm weather has implications with grain storage that must be considered.  If warm grain is stored it can sweat and it will cause storage problems.  Here are some things to look at that will help eliminate storage problems with the grain that is harvested this fall.
 The first thing that must be looked at is the size and type of the bin that the grain is being stored in.  Wooden bins are less risky to store hot grain in than steel bins.  There are not a lot of wooden bins out there any more so this is not a choice for most growers.  The size of the steel bin is the most likely thing that a producer can make a decision on when reducing risk for grain storage.  Smaller bins generally are less risky to put warm grain in.  Large bins greater than 5000 bushels should have temperature monitoring equipment.  This will allow for the monitoring of the rate of cooling that goes on in the bin through the fall.  Any bin with aeration can take care of a warm grain sample but aeration is especially important for the bigger bins.  Blowing air through the grain on a cool day will bring down the temperature and avoid the heating of the grain in the winter season or in hot spots in the bin.
 A producer must look at the sample that is going into the bin.  The first thing that needs to be determined is the actual temperature of the grain.  When grain is combined, it is generally 5 degrees warmer that the outside air temperature.  This means that a grain sampled at 25 degrees Celsius will likely go into the bin at 30 degrees.  Grain at different temperatures will be put in a bin so be aware when there might be hot spots.  When daytime temperatures vary significantly, aeration is an excellent tool to help reduce hot spots from developing in the stored grain.
 Green kernels can cause hot spots in bins.  The moisture level of a sample can be safe but if there are green kernels in the sample, that moisture can move and cause heating in a specific area of the bin.  This can cause hot spots in the bin and will lead to heated grain if left alone.  The grain must be examined when it is going in the bin.  If green kernels are present, there must be action taken shortly after the grain is binned.
 With any warm grain that is binned there are things that should be done to avoid spoilage.  The easiest way to eliminate a problem with warm grain that is going into a bin is to sell it.  This is not always possible so other action should be taken.  Warm grain in a bin should be monitored.   Steel rods in the grain can be checked for heating.  Part of the bin can be taken out and moved into another bin.  These actions will reduce the potential for spoilage.
 The grain that we harvest does not make money until it hits the marketplace and a producer is paid for it.  Make sure that there are no surprises with spoilt grain.  Take appropriate precautions if there is this potential problem on your farm.