Managing grain in storage

By John M. Smith, OSU Extension Educator, Auglaize County Agriculture and Natural Resources

If you had $20,000 to $50,000 in cash sitting in a grain bin, would you check it often? You know you would. Even though grain went into storage in excellent condition why not check your grain that is worth that much? Check it at least once a week.

With the wet fall harvest and high humidity in many areas, much of the grain that went into the bins in poor condition could be headed for trouble; especially when the weather warms up and stays warm.

Properly managing grain in your storage bins is important to maintain quality. Factors that can cause grain to go out of condition are:

• Presence of insects;

• The amount of fines and foreign-material left in the stored grain;

• Initial quality of grain going into storage;

• Grain moisture content;

• Grain temperature.

The market value of infested grain may be substantially reduced if the number of insect-damaged kernels is sufficient to lower the grade of the grain (total damage factor), or if the number of insects causes the grain to be designated “infested” on the grade certificate. Producers often have to pay discounts to buyers finding live insects in their purchased grain. And some grain dealers may refuse to accept heavily infested grain that might contaminate their storage facilities.

Insects in farm-stored grain will also affect its eligibility in the Marketing Assistance Loan (MAL) program for farmers. Condition of the storage structure and that of the stored grain are factors that must be considered by the USDA Farm Service Agency’s commodity inspectors when determining eligibility for a farm-storage loan. When a loan is approved, the storer, who is often the producer, is responsible for any loss in quantity or quality of the commodity caused by insect infestation or rodent damage during storage.

Grain temperature must be controlled to limit moisture movement through the grain. Lower grain temperature decreases molds and insect activity and increases safe storage times. More grain goes out of condition due to temperatures not being controlled than for any other reason.

If you value your money in the bin, keep a watch on the grain for insect activity, temperature rise, and excess moisture.

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