August 06, 2015

06/08/2015: Preparing for the grain harvest of 2015

Grain bins have been iconic figures on America's farms for decades. This historic yet advantageous invention has made it possible for farmers to have more control over their farming operations.

As Missouri weather continues to be unpredictable, devising a plan for proper grain storage is just one of the many things a farmer needs to be successful at harvest. When checking over a grain bin, it's important to start from the ground up. The foundation upon which the bin rests is key.

According to Location Manager Mike Barringhaus at Farmers Grain Terminal in Slater, USA, farmers need to check the concrete foundation for cracks. The cracks can allow water to penetrate the stored grain. If imperfections are found, tar may be used for quick spot treatments. Any greater damage and the farmer may consider replacing the foundation.

Next, the exterior of the bin itself must be checked. Check for rusty areas and other places that could have been damaged from weather conditions this past year. The roof needs to be rust free and without cracks.

Internally, the bin needs to be as clean as possible. The cleaner the internal bin is, the better chance you have at battling bugs in the autumn.

Mr Barringhaus suggests using an insecticide on the internal ceiling, walls and floor of the bin to provide a good shield against pests.

"If there is any residue at all, the insects will harbour and wait until there there's another good batch of grain," Mr Barringhaus said. "Then they will start destroying it."

Another easy way to prevent harbouring of insects is to mow and keep weeds around bins to a minimum.

Temperature control deems critical during the packing of a grain bin. Mr Barringhaus says that as a farmer fills up his bin, fines and shafts from the grain can get concentrated in the centre of the bin. These extra particles seem innocent, but if left packed among the grain they will cause a lack of air movement and increased temperatures.

To prevent this from happening, farmers should take a load or two of grain out of their bin to increase airflow. This process is called coring their bins.

University of Missouri Extension Agronomy Specialist Wayne Crook also suggests grain should be stirred and aerated during storage to prevent the development of additional hot spots.

Once the grain has been harvested, temperature control and monitoring moisture are crucial. Often, they go hand in hand.

"Higher the moisture, the less it will keep," Mr Barringhaus said. "The drier it is, the longer it will keep."

Another rule of thumb suggests checking the stockpile of grain every two weeks. Open up the top of the grain bin, smell and look carefully to sense that it still smells fresh and it is bright yellow in color. This is a way of quickly checking the grain in storage.

Mr Barringhaus mentions that extreme weather fluctuations such as autumn turning to winter and winter melting into spring will cause condensation to form in the grain bins.

"It will draw moisture and the moisture will get down on the corn or beans," Mr Barringhaus said. "It will start to crust it over. Once the crust starts, the grain can't transfer air through and then it heats up."

To avoid this, corn should be stored between 35 degrees Fahrenheit to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Mr Crook.

If during a routine check, a farmer discovers their grain bin has started to spoil, how far the spoiling has gone can mean the difference in time the farmer has to market their grain.

"If it's just starting to spoil, they can turn on the aeration fans and just blow air. That usually slows down and stops it, and gives them a couple more months to market that grain," Mr Barringhaus suggests. "If it's already past the point of no return where it's really spoiling and heating up, they are going to have to move it, get it out and transfer it to another bin."

If these steps are not done in a timely manner, producers will need to find a place to sell their grain before it's completely ruined.

Read more HERE.

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