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NewsMaintaining Stored Grain Requires Diligence

Maintaining Stored Grain Requires Diligence

December 14, 2015

The 2015 harvest is history and I hope your experience was safe and satisfying. A year that started with an extreme overabundance of water, followed by dry conditions, ended with a run of amazing harvest / tillage weather rivaling that of any year I remember. The best news is the yields were at or slightly above average with good quality and dried down quickly.

Now that your crops are snuggled safely in their respective repositories, the immediate focus needs to be on keeping the grain safe and viable. The best way to do that is to monitor, inspect, sample, aerate, and repeat.

Here are the basics:

Observe your stored grain weekly, especially during critical fall and spring periods when average air temperatures are changing rapidly. Check the surface of the grain for signs of crusting, wet, sticky or frozen kernels. Inspect the underside of the roof for signs of condensation. Probe the grain surface in several places with a grain thermometer on a length of rod to detect any heating. If any of these signs appear, you must react quickly as conditions can accelerate and jeopardize the entire grain mass.

Stored grain needs to be cooled down to 35 to 40 degrees for winter storage.

Aeration cycles need to be started anytime the average 24 hour temperature is 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the temperature of the grain. Air follows the path of least resistance. Accumulated fines will block airflow and can go out of condition if not broken up or removed. If grain is peaked or not level, air will escape at the shallowest level. Unaerated grain will cause problems as temperature differentials increase with the seasonal changes.

The two biggest mistakes in aerating grain are:

  1. Not running the fans long enough. If the temperature of the entire grain mass is not equalized, problems will occur at the level in the bin where the temperature is unequal. 
  2. Running fans too long or when the atmospheric conditions are inappropriate. If the relative humidity of the air is too low you can severely over dry the grain and lose significant saleable weight.

The corn aeration chart below is a great tool to guide you when aerating stored corn.

Be proactive in keeping tabs on your stored grain and follow these simple rules to get maximum return from this year's crop.

Randy Holthaus is GROWMARK's grain systems operation manager. His email address is