As outdoor temperatures warm up, protecting the quality of stored grain is especially important. Greg Trame, director of technology sales for GSI, offers five tips for farmers to properly manage their grain bins this summer.
- Raise the grain temperature as outside weather heats up. A large temperature differential can cause condensation to form inside bins, leading to grain spoilage. “When the sunlight hits the bins, they really warm up,” Trame says. “This isn’t something you need to worry about on a day-to-day basis, but the goal is to keep the two temperatures as close together as possible by slowly warming up the grain with aeration.” He notes the industry standard is a temperature differential of no more than 10 degrees.
- Factor in grain moisture. In addition to grain temperature, optimal storage conditions also depend on the grain’s moisture level when stored. To help make this determination, farmers can obtain safe storage charts from university extension services and other resources.
- Use automated bin monitoring tools. “Farmers are busy during the spring and summer getting everything done, and it’s easy to forget about the grain in their bins,” Trame says. “Tools for remote monitoring are really important for alerting growers about temperature or moisture issues before they can become serious problems.” One example he cites is GSI’s new GrainVue digital cable system that detects early signs of spoilage and automatically turns on aeration fans to project grain quality.
- Check grain weekly. Climb safely to the top of the bin and – while not entering to avoid the risk of entrapment – visually inspect the top layer of grain and around the interior wall. Any signs of crusting could mean grain spoilage. Trame notes that spoilage can also be detected by smell. “If you see or smell something you don’t like, it’s important to get aeration fans going to let in fresh air and equalize the bin and outdoor temperatures.”
- Move spoiled grain. If grain crusting is present, but in a small amount, blending that off may solve the issue. “However, it’s hard to know how far down the problem goes,” Trame says. “If you can’t get it under control, it’s important to move that grain out of the bin and market it as quickly as possible, even though it may receive a docking at sale. “The bigger problem is leaving out-of-condition grain in the bin, which can cause clogging during unloading and lead to a series of unsafe events.”
Trame adds that safe storage should be based on a farmer’s grain marketing plan. “If farmers know they’re going to store their grain through the summer, that means drying the grain in the fall to the proper moisture. It starts with planning up front based on their marketing plan.”
For additional grain management recommendations, Trame says growers can contact their local university extension service, their grain system dealer or visit www.grainsystems.com.