Avoiding Grain Bin Condensation

As we head into late fall, dropping temperatures bring on challenges in grain storage management. Condensation can form on the inside of a grain bin. The moisture re-wets the corn and in many cases will spoil it. 

Ken Hellevang is an extension ag engineer at North Dakota State University. He says the way to minimize condensation is to try to limit the difference between corn temperature and the air temperature on the outside of the bin.

"Some of the farmers are using a system where they’ll do partial cooling in the high temperature dryer and then finish the cooling and taking off a little moisture in the bin. The bigger the temperature difference between outside temperature and corn temperature, the more problems that we’re going to see with condensation," says Hellevang. "And, that has been a major issue across the corn belt the last few years depending on outside conditions."

Good ventilation, whether natural or intentional, is a must for maintaining a uniform temperature inside and keeping moisture out of grain bins. But he emphasizes that it’s important to understand the principles that are involved so we can properly manage what Mother Nature throws at us.

"We need to understand the equilibrium moisture content, we need to understand the drying process, what causes condensation. Automation is a tool that can help us, we have temperature cables we have moisture sensors," he says. "But it does not replace understanding what’s taking place and applying the appropriate management strategy."