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Frequent information updates for agricultural audiences

Stored Grain Management - from Mike Roegge

Posted by John Fulton -

Stored corn is almost like "the perfect storm": quite a bit of it went into bins a little wet; some had a little bit of damage to it (making storage more difficult); it was too late last fall to get much natural drying done; temperatures are warming quicker than normal; corn is still above 14-15% in bins; roads have been posted the past month when moving corn could have been accomplished, etc. This leads to concern about the ability of corn to hold its own in conditions we have now.

For those who still have corn in the bin, if you've not been keeping track of grain temperatures and moistures, do so now. Turn the fan on to see if any off odors are present. Many have said that corn "got a little wetter during the winter". If you've not taken the core out, get that done to improve air flow, as the broken corn tends to concentrate in the center of the bin and those particles make for uneven air flow.

If corn was cooled during the winter, you'll need to be thinking about warming it back up. The temperatures we've been experiencing of late are going to make corn heat up in the bin. This warming will begin to cause problems. As the heat builds, the warm air will migrate upward on cool grain, which will begin to cause condensation. This will lead to increased moistures, which will lead to increased temperatures, which will lead to grain going bad.

The rule of thumb is to get grain to within 10-15 degrees of outside air, to prevent the above from occurring. The big question is if you've got corn stored that is 18-20 percent moisture or more, can you get it dried with just air, before it goes out of condition. The answer depends upon several things, the two biggest are: how wet the corn is and how much air flow the fan will provide.

Most drying bins have fans large enough that they'll be able to push a drying front through the bin within 3-5 days. Storage bins don't have fans with that high of air flow, and can take up to several weeks to get a drying front through the bin. This is a huge difference when attempting to naturally dry corn with temperatures increasing. It works much better in the fall, as temperatures are decreasing. The warmer temperatures we're experiencing won't allow you to store wet corn for very long before it begins to go out of condition.

We've some guidelines to determine how long corn can remain before it begins to go out of condition. For corn at 20 % moisture, and 60 degree temperatures, you've got approximately 25 days of allowable storage time before corn goes out of condition. At 70 degrees, that time is only 14 days. Don't take chances on your investment. Yes, I know you are probably busy in the fields, but take the time to monitor your grain bank. And if you need to use LP, don't hesitate.

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