Grain Drying and Storage Tips
County Agent Update
With harvest over for most, now comes the time to haul and sell your grain. Many operations have to have grain bins and a handling system as heading straight to the elevator isn’t an option, for many reasons. With the cooler temperatures among us, and precipitation soon to be coming in the form of snow below are some tips from North Dakota State University Extension Service Engineer, Dr. Kenneth Hellevang. Natural Air Drying; In-bin air-drying becomes inefficient as outdoor air temperature decreases. Turn the drying fans off when outside temperatures average below about 40 degrees. Transition to cooling the grain for winter storage. Do not operate the fans when it is raining, snowing, or foggy. Cooling Stored Grain; The grain should be cooled whenever the average outdoor temperature is 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the grain. It should be cooled to near or below 30 degrees for winter storage in the northern states. Cool grain with aeration to reduce the insect infestation potential. Insect reproduction is reduced at temperatures below about 60 F, insects are dormant below about 50 F, and insects can be killed by extended exposure to temperatures below about 30 F. In addition, grain moisture content and temperature affect the rate of mold growth and grain deterioration, with the allowable storage time approximately doubling with each 10-degree reduction in grain temperature.
Storing grain in poly bags is a good option, but it does not prevent insect infestations or mold growth in damp grain. Grain placed in bags should be dry and cool. Recommendations include: Placing grain in bags at recommended storage moisture contents based on grain and outdoor temperatures. Heating and grain deterioration will occur if the grain exceeds a safe storage moisture content, and grain in a bag cannot be cooled with aeration. The average temperature of dry grain will follow the average outdoor temperature. Selecting an elevated, well-drained site for the storage bags. Preparing the ground surface so the bag is not punctured during placement. Grain frequently is stored short term in outdoor piles. However, precipitation is a severe problem in uncovered grain. Just a 1-inch rain will increase the moisture content of a 1-foot layer of corn by 9 percentage points. This typically leads to the loss of at least 2 feet of grain on the pile surface. Snow on the pile may melt and wet the grain, or it is mixed with the grain during unloading. If creating outdoor piles: Use a cover to prevent water infiltration. A combination of restraining straps and suction from the aeration system holds grain covers in place. Aeration and wind blowing on the pile will not dry wet grain adequately to prevent spoilage. Place the pile so the storage floor is higher than the surrounding ground to minimize moisture transfer from the soil into the grain and assure that there is good drainage around the pile. For this information and more visit http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/graindrying or call the NDSU Extension office at 701-577-4595.