Grain markets are not favorable, and farms that are holding grain in storage in hopes of future market improvement will need to monitor and manage grain to keep it in good condition as outdoor temperatures increase. Compounding the issue is the fact that some grain was placed into storage last fall at moisture levels not suitable for long term storage. Some of this grain may be out of condition and not salvageable for longer term storage. Recently, Jason Hartschuh, Extension Educator in Crawford County and Elizabeth Hawkins, Extension Agronomy Field Specialist co-authored an article on managing stored grain into summer. I will excerpt parts of that article for this column. The entire article is available online at https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2020-10/managing-stored-grain-summer.
“The first management consideration is the moisture of your stored grain. If you plan to store grain into the warmer summer months, it is important to know the moisture content of your stored grain. The recommended maximum storage moisture contents for summer storage are 13-14% for corn, 11% for soybeans and 13.5% for wheat.
If your stored grain is currently at a higher moisture content, you should consider moving it to market or drying to these recommended storage moistures using natural drying, if possible. Using high temperature drying now is not recommended because re-cooling the grain for summer storage will be challenging.
The second consideration for maintaining stored grain into the summer is temperature. Historically, it was recommended to warm grain in the summer as ambient air temperatures increase, but this is no longer considered a best management practice. It is now recommended to keep grain as cool as possible for spring and summer grain storage. Warming grain to average outdoor summer temperatures can lead to increased potential for insect infestation and mold growth. Keeping grain temperature below 70ºF lessens insect reproductive activity compared to 80ºF but keeping this temperature below 60ºF will greatly reduce insect activity. When grain temperatures are below 50ºF, most insects are dormant.
Monitoring stored grain temperature through the summer will allow you catch potential problems. Grain is an excellent insulator, so it can be challenging to detect pockets of warm grain. Use of multiple temperature monitoring cables throughout the bin is recommended. Grain at the top of the bin is often the warmest, so a two-foot thermometer can be used to check temperatures if monitoring cables are not installed. Grain temperature should be checked every couple of weeks in the center and around the edges of the bin. Increased temperature maybe a sign of mold growth or insect activity.
Proper ventilation is important when storing grain in summer months. Solar radiation warms the roof of the bin and the air below. Natural convection air currents within the bin cause air to rise along the walls and be drawn into the center of the bin, warming the grain. Natural ventilation of the air space above the grain can be used to help keep this space cool. Having vents in two areas above the grain with either a vent or fan at the peak assists with this ventilation.
Use the bottom positive pressure ventilation fans to help keep the grain at the top of the bin cool. It is very important to select mornings when air is cool and dry. Cover bottom ventilation fans during summer storage. Without covers, warm air enters the bottom of the bin and as wind blows past the top of the bin the air is drawn up through the grain mass warming it up. Fan covers can be as simple as a tarp fastened over the fan.”
OSU Farm Office Live
The OSU Extension farm office offers live hours via webinar every Monday evening from 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm. All sessions are recorded and available for later viewing/listening (https://farmoffice.osu.edu/). OSU Extension resource persons include Ben Brown, Peggy Hall, Barry Ward, Dianne Shoemaker and David Marrison. They provide the latest information and analysis on current agricultural issues including markets, federal/USDA COVID-19 relief programs and more.
Register to participate and submit questions for the panel at: https://farmoffice.osu.edu/news/farm-office-open .
Master Gardener Help
Beginning on April 29 and continuing through September, the Secrest Arboretum Master Gardeners are available to help answer home horticulture questions, including vegetables, lawns and ornamental/landscape plants and shrubs. Until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, office face-to-face service is not possible, but Master Gardeners will be available live via Zoom each Wednesday from 10 am to 11am. Register for the zoom session and/or to submit questions and photo samples at https://u.osu.edu/secrestmg/research-line/
Rory Lewandowski is an OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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