Monitoring Stored Grain

Spring is a time of year where the condition of grain stored in bins could quickly deteriorate.

Charles Hurburgh is an Extension grain quality and handling specialist at Iowa State University. He says humidity in the air over 65% can take you backwards in terms of grain condition.

"Because the fungi that typically grow during the summertime are relatively low-moisture, low humidity fungi," says Hurburgh. "You can get into situations in July and August that there’s nothing you can do to slow down its growth if you haven’t protected the shelf life up to that point, and had the grain cool up to that point."

Checking grain temperature is relatively easy. In small bins, you can do it with a thermometer screwed onto a steel rod, and poked down into the bin. With larger sized bins, the only way to know is with an electronic temperature monitoring system.

Hurburgh recommends checking the grain every two-weeks and keeping the temperatures as low as you can. 

"So, temperature is your biggest way of monitoring what’s going on in the bin," he says. "The other thing is that if you have the capability to take a load or two out of the bin once in awhile, maybe every month or so, that too will give you an idea of whether your moisture and temperature conditions are okay."

If the corn is cold, sometimes you’ll see water condensing on the top of the bin. Having a roof fan will take care of the condensation so it won’t be necessary to aerate the whole bin. However, if you see roof condensation and the grain is warmer than the outside air, it’s usually indicative of some sort of spoilage that’s giving off moisture.