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Tips to keep your grain bins mold-free

Not planting yet? Then it's a good time to make sure your stored grain isn't developing a mold problem.

The warmer-than-normal weather this last winter may have been easy on your back, without as much snow to shovel. But, it was likely even easier on a lot of common mold spores that can infect stored grain and lead to spoilage or paying a hefty dockage penalty when you take that grain to town. Or, at worst, causing illnesses in livestock fed the grain that could prove fatal.

"Farmers should constantly be checking their grain for mold growth," says Purdue University ag engineer Richard Stroshine. "If they find mold, they've got to get that corn out of the bin as soon as possible so that it doesn't spread to other grain in the bin."

The best thing to do if you're wary of mold developing is core your bins. That way, you can circulate enough air to hopefully disperse the particles that can lead to mold growth. And, it could help dry up any moisture that may be present.

"Aeration will push musty odors, which are indicative of mold growth, to the headspace of the bin. If the problems are deeper in the bin it will take longer for odors to reach the surface. So you could run the fans another 2-4 hours and check again," Stroshine says. "While you're in the bin, look for signs of condensation on the inside of the bin's roof. That's an indication you've had moisture generated by mold activity. Also, look for crusting on the grain's surface, which is symptomatic of mold growth."

Finally, keep an eye on the grain's temperature. A hot spot in the bin is usually a sign of mold growth. A simple way to check the temperature is to leave a sampling rod for around 15 minutes, and if it's warm to the touch upon removal, that's a sign mold is likely present.

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