Corn and soybean harvest has started on some fields and will be starting soon in others. Given the grain price situation, grain storage may be an important marketing strategy. Grain storage is all about maintaining grain quality. Before harvest starts, before any grain is put into a bin, make sure that bin is clean and ready to receive this year’s crop. The key concept is sanitation. Never store new grain on top of a previous crop year’s grain. This week, Curtis Young, OSU Extension Educator in Van Wert County has some advice about grain bin preparation.
Remove any grain or grain dust from inside the bins by sweeping or vacuuming empty bins and brushing down walls. Pay close attention to cracks and crevices, ledges over doors, and hollow tube ladder rungs on or in which grain could have been trapped from the previous storage seasons. Clean fans, aeration ducts, exhausts, and when possible, beneath slotted floors. Sanitation outside of bins is as important as inside of the bins. Ideally there should be no vegetation (weeds, shrubs, etc.) growing up against the outside of the bin. Grain pests (insects and rodents) can be harbored in the vegetation. Bare ground covered with gravel or cement is preferred, but short-mown grass is tolerable. Remove any spilled grain from around the outside of the bin and storage facility.
Once storage structures have been thoroughly cleaned, carefully inspect them for signs of deterioration, especially for leaks and holes through which insects, birds or rodents can gain easy access to the stored grain or rain and snow can drip or blow in onto the grain to produce wet spots that can lead to mold growth. While inspecting for physical problems, also test aeration fans and driers to make sure they are working properly. Check belts, bearings and gear boxes for wear and proper lubrication.
Check electrical systems for corroded connections and frayed wiring before harvest. 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 any openings through which mice could get in. Be sure that guards and safety shields are in place over belts, chains and intakes. Seal all leaks and make repairs to the equipment before you need them to manage the grain
Once all cleaning and repairs have been completed, an empty-bin application of an appropriately labeled insecticide is advisable, especially in bins with difficult to clean areas and/or in bins with a history of insect problems. For empty-bin insecticide treatments that are applied as a liquid, allow a minimum of 24 hours for the sprays to dry before loading grain into the bin. It is preferable to have empty-bin treatments applied at least two weeks prior to harvest
Registered empty-bin insecticides include: Tempo SC Ultra (cyfluthrin), Storcide II (chlorpyrifos-methyl plus deltamethrin) which is primarily used around small grains such as wheat, Centynal or Suspend SC (deltamethrin), Diacon-D IGR (s-methoprene = an insect growth regulator), and several pyrethrin products can be used to apply a surface treatment to the inside of the bin and provide a residual protection. Other products that contain diatomaceous earth and/or silicon dioxide such as Insecto, Protect-It, Perma-Guard and others may be utilized. Refer to the individual product labels for lists of insects controlled and application directions. Note: most if not all malathion products have removed stored grain uses from their labels.
If a bin is known to be heavily infested with insects, an empty-bin fumigation may be required to knock down insect populations before applying one of the above insecticides. The most readily available product for this purpose is phosphine gas producing materials such as aluminum phosphide and magnesium phosphide sold under a wide variety of trade names. Phosphine is an extremely toxic material and fumigations should be conducted by trained, experienced, licensed applicators.
Grain storage insecticide labels tend to change frequently. As always, check to make sure you are following the instructions on the product label and using the appropriate product for your situation.