Maintaining Quality Grain in Storage

If you had $15,000 to $30,000 in cash sitting in a grain bin, would you check it often? You know you would. So why not check your grain that is worth that much?

When you store wheat, oats, rye, barley, grain sorghum, shelled corn, or any other grain on your farm for extended periods, you must take steps to preserve its quality and prevent economic loss from insect and mold damage.

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

1. Presence of insects 
2. The amount of fines and foreign-material left in the stored grain during filling of the storage 
3. Initial quality of grain going into storage 
4. Grain moisture content

The market or feed value of infested grain may be substantially reduced if the number of insect-damaged kernels is sufficient to lower the grade of 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.

Heavy infestation of insects and mold greatly reduces the feed value of grain. Molds can produce toxins that can cause abortions, low fertility, poor production and poor growth rate.

Insects in farm-stored grain will also affect its eligibility in the Grain Reserve Program for farmers. Conditioning of the storage structure and that of the stored grain are factors that must be considered by the Farm Service Agency 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 and mold 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.

As spring and summer temperatures warm up, it is very important to monitor the temperature and moisture in the stored grain. Temperatures can increase quite rapidly and that will increase insect activity. The grain in storage needs to be monitored often to prevent temperature and moisture increases and increase in insect activity.

There are insect traps available that can be inserted into the grain mass to monitor insect activity. If you value your money in the bin, keep a watch on the grain for insect activity, temperature rise, and excess moisture.?