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How to Minimize Mold In Harvested Corn

Drying corn at 180°F. (dryer plenum temperature) can extend the life of moldy corn caused by diseases like diploid ear rot. Even then, moldy corn will have a shortened storage life, warns Gary Woodruff of GSI (Grain Systems, Inc.), who also offers the following advice on how to handle moldy corn this harvest:

  • Dry affected corn down to 14% moisture or less (1% moisture point lower than normal moisture content) to reduce its moisture content. The higher moisture level can promote additional mold growth.
  • Maintain the temperature inside bins in the 30°F. range. Temps below 50°F. reduce mold and insect activity. Plus colder bin temperatures further reduce the chance of corn going out of condition, Woodruff explains.
  • Check molded corn in storage weekly to detect any smell, crusting, or to see if there is an increase in the moisture content at the surface of the stored grain.
  • Leave grain cold until it is sold, rather than use aeration. Aeration is only for changing the temperature of the grain. High aeration airflow will not extend storage life, and as static pressure rises above 4 inches, it may create issues resulting from air temperature rising from the heat of pressurization, Woodruff warns.
  • Market affected grain as soon as possible and certainly before the temperatures warm up next spring. “Mold-affected corn has a shorter storage life, even with careful management, and should be used early and first, leaving higher quality corn for longer storage,” Woodruff points out.    
  • Always consult with your state university or Extension services for recommendations on how to dry and store moldy corn to obtain information best suited for your area.
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