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Grain bin management

Agriculture.com Staff 05/14/2009 @ 7:50am

With commodity prices fluctuating daily and input costs remaining near record highs, producers are faced with the challenge of sustaining profitability. As profit margins shrink, the quality of your stored grain becomes even more critical.

Before you put one kernel or seed in your grain bin this fall, it's more important than ever to properly prepare bins to maintain your grain's quality and value.

"One thing all grain producers ought to be doing is preparing bins and equipment to avoid problems at harvest," says Tom Dorn, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator.

Dorn offers five tips to better manage the commodities you'll store in bins this fall.

"The first goal should be to store sound, clean, dry grain. Storage insects often get started in the grain dust, broken kernels, and fines, which tend to concentrate right under the loading auger in the center of the bin," he says.

Dorn notes it's best to screen out broken kernels, trash, and fines to increase the quality of the final product being stored.

"If screening isn't possible, consider overfilling initially, then removing a load or two of grain with the center unloading auger to pull some of the fines out of the center of the bin. This also has the advantage of leaving the grain surface nearly level," he says.

It's imperative that equipment is well cleaned before harvest, as stored grain insects can invade new grain from infested equipment. Any equipment used to harvest, transport, or handle grain should have any trace of old grain removed.

"Even small amounts of moldy or insect-infested grain left in equipment can contaminate a bin of new grain," says Dorn.

He says new grain should never be stored on top of old grain because of the risk of infesting the new grain with storage insects and mold organisms.

With commodity prices fluctuating daily and input costs remaining near record highs, producers are faced with the challenge of sustaining profitability. As profit margins shrink, the quality of your stored grain becomes even more critical.

Because of the weight they bear, grain bins require a solid foundation. "A 9,000-bushel bin is supporting over half a million pounds of grain besides the weight of the bin itself and the concrete pad," says Dorn.

Inspect wiring, relays, and other electrical equipment for rodent damage.

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