By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, product manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.
During and after harvest there are several steps growers can take to ensure the best possible conditions for on-farm grain storage. Proper storage and grain handling is necessary in maintaining the quality of the harvested crop. It is critical to start with both a clean bin and handling equipment. Any moldy grain or grain infested by insects from the previous year can contaminate grain harvested this season. Storage facilities and aeration equipment should be clean and in proper working condition.
Harvesting equipment that is adjusted and operated correctly will also preserve the condition of the crop. Combines should be set to clean grain thoroughly to eliminate foreign material/fines and handling equipment should be operated in order to minimize damage to grain. It is also important to use a spreader or distributor as grain enters the bin to evenly spread any fine materials remaining in the grain. Without a spreading device the fines will collect in the center of the bin and create aeration problems as well as a place for moisture to accumulate. Properly cleaned grain will minimize insect activity and allow for efficient air movement through the stored grain.
Grain should be stored at proper moisture content in order to maintain quality. Corn should be stored at 15% for up to 6 months and 13% for storage longer than 6 months. Soybeans should be stored at 13% for up to 6 months and 11% for storage longer than 6 months. Grain should be cooled through aeration in the fall to provide the most favorable storage environment. The stored grain should be cooled gradually and evenly to 35 to 40 degrees F. This process will help maintain the condition of the grain and deter insect activity within the stored grain. Finally, it is important to monitor grain stored in bins at regular intervals to make sure that proper storage conditions are maintained, as well as grain quality.