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Don't get lax with stored corn

Jeff Caldwell 11/12/2012 @ 11:25am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Warm weather for about half of the weekend wasn't too kind on corn in storage, especially those bushels that were put away a little higher on the moisture scale.

Now that things have cooled back down, it's important to get that grain dried and cooled down quickly to avoid any potential disease and mold growth that could ultimately strip your potential proceeds once you take that grain to town, one expert says.

"Starting to hear a lot of talk about corn getting warm and crusting around southwest Minnesota. We had decent corn, and it was all fairly dry (17% to 11%)," says Agriculture.com Crop Talk contributor colorofmoney. "Keep your eyes open and make sure to check your bins."

Even if disease pressure isn't much of a threat -- one Crop Talk adviser says company officials told him that aflatoxin risks balloon once the grain reaches 17% to 18% moisture in storage -- your best bet is to act quickly to get your grain cooler and drier ahead of the full onset of winter, says Iowa State University Extension ag engineer Greg Brenneman.

"While we want stored grain cooled to 30-35 degrees for winter storage, the sooner we get grain temperatures down, the better. Every 10-degree drop in grain temperature will nearly double the allowable storage time," he says. "Fans might need to be run several times during the fall to get grain down to wintertime storage temperatures."

That's exactly what Crop Talk adviser Jim Meade / Iowa City is doing to his grain in storage now, even in the immediate absence of damp or hot spots in his corn, especially considering how variable yield and moisture levels were during harvest.

"My own corn and the neighbor's talk is that moisture was variable throughout the field. I wonder if bin dry-down was consistent, or if maybe some are being a little lax?" he says. "I checked mine yesterday and it was all OK for moisture, except one is a bit high and that one the stirrator doesn't work, so I've left the fan running."

Once you get it where it needs to be, make sure you check your stored corn often to avoid flare-ups in moisture and temperature during periods when the weather features big swings in either condition outside.

"If grain is dried down to the proper moisture and correctly cooled, it should store very well through the winter," Brenneman says. "Even so, it is best to check stored grain at least every two weeks during the winter and once a week in warmer weather."

That's exactly what Crop Talk contributor ECIN is planning on doing all winter. "So far, so good," he says. "But we had better pull a few loads out just to be sure."

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