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Get Grain Dry and Cool, Keep It That Way

More grain will be stored into the spring and summer months this coming year as farmers buy time to cash in on market rallies at these times of the year. That doesn’t present a problem as long as you get grain cold in the winter and keep it cool in the summer, says Ken Hellevang.

How cool?
Basically, grain should be frozen in the winter and then maintained around 40°F. in the summer. “The goal for summer storage should be to keep the grain as cool as possible to limit insect activity and reduce the potential for mold growth,” the North Dakota State University engineer advises. “Insect reproduction is reduced at temperatures below about 65°F. to 70°F., while insect activity is reduced as grain temperature is reduced.”

Moisture Content
To meet these goals, first prepare grain for longer term storage by reducing grain equilibrium moisture content (EMC) to:
• 13.1% for corn
• 13.5% for wheat
• 11.2% for soybeans
• 12.2% for barley

Recommended Temperatures
Grain should then be cooled to below freezing for winter storage, warmed up only to 30°F. to 40°F. next spring. This will limit the potential for storage problems caused by condensation and moisture diffusion, which are related to the difference in the grain and outdoor temperatures. Grain should not be warmed above about 40°F. using aeration during the spring and summer because warming the grain increases its moisture content and may increase the potential for grain deterioration, Hellevang warns.

Warming grain to more than 40°F. can lead to insect infestations and reduced storage time. The allowable storage time of grain is reduced by approximately one-half for each 10°F. the grain is warmed, Hellevang explains.

He also recommends covering aeration fans between aeration periods to prevent wind and a natural chimney effect from warming the grain. Grain will warm to near the outdoor temperature if the wind is allowed to blow into the fan or duct.

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