Warm spring may cause stored grain problems


NDSU Extension Service has put out a notice that due to unusually warm weather this spring, stored grain could have some problems.

The storability of grain depends on the grain quality, moisture content and temperature, says Ken Hellevang, the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s grain drying expert.

Due to the nice 2011 harvest season, some farmers only relied on field drying, and some corn was placed in the bin at moisture contents slightly above the recommended level for long-term storage. They either used or plan to use natural air-drying rather than drying the corn in a high-temperature dryer.

“This corn should be monitored and kept cool by running aeration fans at night or during times when outdoor temperatures are cooler than 40 degrees until the corn can be dried,” Hellevang advises. “Because grain spoils faster at warm temperatures, air-drying when average air temperatures exceed 70 degrees may result in spoiled grain before it gets dry. Unfortunately, the rate of spoilage increases faster than the rate of drying at warmer temperatures.”

If fans were operated during the abnormally warm temperatures, continue to operate them to cool the grain. Average temperatures in the 50s or 60s are better when air-drying corn in the spring. The required airflow rate increases with warmer temperatures and moisture contents. 

He also recommends monitoring stored grain closely to detect any storage problems early. Grain temperature and moisture content should be checked every two weeks during the spring and summer. Grain should be examined for insect infestations as well.

Verify that the moisture content measured by the meter has been adjusted for grain temperature. In addition, remember that moisture measurements of grain at temperatures below about 40 degrees may not be accurate. Verify the accuracy of the measurement by warming the grain sample to room temperature in a sealed plastic bag before measuring the moisture content.

Source: NDSU Extension