March 25, 2015

25/03/2015: North Dakota, USA: temperature shifts make grain storage tricky

Fast shifts in temperatures have led to some tricky stored grain management decisions in the USA's North Dakota region, according to experts, writes Mikkel Pates for the Grand Forks Herald.

Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University Extension Service agricultural engineer and specialist in grain storage, says the recent temperatures in the 70s brought in a lot of calls from farmers, wondering whether they should turn the fans on to dry grain in bins.
“The answer was yes, because we were running temperatures consistently above-normal,” Hellevang says. “I normally recommend we start air drying when we have average temperatures, about 40 degrees,” meaning daytime temperatures consistently in the 50s, even though evening temperatures might dip into the 20s.

Some grain on the top of bins and particularly along south walls warmed up, but farmers can’t leave the grain warm. After the outside temperatures drop, farmers need to run aeration fans to cool the grain again to avoid spoilage.

“The goal should be to keep the grain between 30 and 40 degrees as we go into spring and early summer,” says Hellevang, who spoke March 19 at the Western Corn Belt Precision Ag Conference in Sioux Falls, S.D., sponsored by South Dakota State University in Brookings.

Hellevang says he has gotten calls from farmers who put corn into grain bins at 17 to 19 percent moisture.

“At that moisture content, it’s still too wet to safely store corn at the warmer temperatures,” he says. “Keeping the corn cool is very important.”

One of the only Extension Service grain storage specialists for several states around, Hellevang says the storage situation this year is similar across the region.

“Even as you went farther east in the Corn Belt, we were seeing some of the same conditions,” he says. “I got some calls out of Iowa, and farther east, seeing similar numbers.”

Read more HERE.

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