Keeping your stored grain cool is important as the outdoor temperatures fluctuate and start to heat up with the summer. Depending on the time of year, different walls of the bin will receive more sun and the grain against that wall will exceed the average outside temperatures. That’s why it’s important to run aeration fans periodically, even through the spring, to keep grain temperature cool.
These tips will help you improve your grain bin management system so that your grains stay protected during the summer season.
Monitor Grain Bin Temperature
Effective grain bin management requires accurate temperature readings throughout the grain bin. Although temperature sensors are a great tool, they only measure the temperature of the grain that is next to the sensor. Even just a few feet away, the grain could be a much different temperature, but a sensor won’t be able to reach that far. Agricultural engineer Ken Hellevang recommends placing a temperature cable a few feet from the south wall of the bin.
You should also keep aeration fans or ducts covered when they’re not operating. The wind and a natural chimney effect push warm, moist air through the grain. A goal for summer storage is to keep grain as cool as possible which helps limit insect activity. Hellevang notes that insect reproduction is reduced in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Improve Grain Bin Ventilation
Use a grain bin ventilation system to reduce heat inside the bin. Like venting an attic, provide an air inlet and outlet to reduce the hot air in the top of the bin. The heated air will rise and be exhausted at the peak. Using a ventilation fan to exhaust the hot air is also an option. If hot air gets stuck under the bin roof, it will heat several feet of grain at the top and lead to hotter temperatures conducive for insect infestations.
Running your aeration fan for a few hours to push air up through the cool stored grain will help cool grain near the top. Try to run your fan every two or three weeks on a cool morning during the summer months. Don’t run the fan for too long or the grain in the bottom of the bin can heat up. Cover the fan when it’s not in use to prevent additional heating.
Manage Moisture Content
Checking your grain moisture content is an important part of grain bin management because moisture measurements at harvest may have been incorrect and the moisture may have changed while the grain was in storage. When you’re checking the moisture content, follow the moisture meter manufacturer’s procedure for obtaining an accurate measurement.
You can verify the accuracy of your measurement by warming the grain sample to room temperature in a sealed plastic bag before measuring the moisture content. Leaving your sample in a sealed container for six to twelve hours also allows the grain moisture to reach equilibrium across the sample. You can also compare the on-farm measured value to that of the sample using a meter at the elevator or other location.
Record Grain Data
It’s recommended to check your stored grain at least every two weeks. When you check on it, measure and record the grain temperature and moisture content. If you see the temperature rising, it may indicate insect or mold problems. Insect infestations can increase from being barely noticeable to becoming a major problem in three to four weeks when the grain is warm. Don’t rely on your temperature cables to inspect for insects or other problems. An effective grain bin management process also includes inspecting for insects, crusting, odors or other indications of storage problems. Be safe when working in grain bins and make sure someone is nearby to assist you.
As the summer heats up, we understand the need to protect your operation. Reach out to your local Farm Bureau agent for more information on how we help with your insurance needs.