Combines are put away, bins are full, and it’s starting to feel like winter out there. As the seasons have changed, we have been seeing some grain going out of condition despite going into the storage bin at very low moisture levels. Don’t forget to monitor the grain you have in bins. Even though it went in dry, with the early harvest and the above average temperatures during harvest, a lot of grain went into the bin warm. Now that the temperature is starting to fall, warm grain and cold outside temperatures combine for a high likelihood of developing condensation which can affect the quality of your grain. This can be avoided by running aeration fans to cool the grain temperature down, relative to outside temperatures.
Another tip to help maintain the storability of binned grain is to “core” or pull the centers out of the bin by removing a load or two of grain; some larger bins will require more grain removed than smaller ones. The main purpose is to remove any trash or fines that tend to accumulate in the center of the bin. The fines and trash impede air flow and have the potential to heat and spoil your grain. Another benefit of coring your bins is to remove any peaks that may exist from filling the bin. Peaks at the top of the bin increase airflow resistance. As airflow follows the path of least resistance, it tends to flow around the grain located in the peak and doesn’t completely cool that portion of the bin, which can affect quality.
Your grain bin will have visible signs that it’s not conditioned properly. For example, roof and walls of the bin should be as frosty as the ground on a cold morning, if not, you may have a developing concern. Also, you may have an issue if you see steam rising from the roof vents. Your nose, particularly while you are running the fans, can give you indications as well. Smells can often tell you if something is happening inside the bin. Regardless if the signs are there or not you should still monitor your grain bins.
I would also like to remind everyone to keep safety in front of everything else. Frost and ice can make things very dangerous while working on and around your bins. While climbing bins you want to make sure you are using three points of contact. Never enter a full or partially full bin that has potential for flowing grain, as engulfments claim many lives every year. Accidents can happen fast, but can be avoided if a person takes their time and uses the proper protective equipment. Coming home to your loved ones at the end of the day is what is really important. Have a safe and happy holiday!