WEST LAFAYETTE, IN -- With heavy rains and high humidity expected to continue for the next few weeks across parts of the Midwest, a Purdue Extension specialist is advising corn and soybean producers to check their stored grain more frequently for signs of spoilage.
"The prolonged rains lately, which have caused flooding, and the high ambient humidity are not favorable for grain storage," said Klein Ileleji. "Therefore, it is time to check your grain bins weekly."
Spoilage and grain crusting typically occur more often in summer and especially when conditions are wet, Ileleji said. Solar load - direct sunlight on a grain bin roof - heats the space inside the bin. When the roof cools down at night, condensation can form, dripping back onto the warm grain surface. The excess moisture could cause caking and spoilage.
To avoid warming up the grain bulk, which could cause spoilage, Ileleji recommended running a ventilation fan installed in the headspace at night to replace warm humid air with cooler air.
He said farmers also needed to exercise caution when checking stored grain by taking samples using a probe known as a grain trier.
"There is always a risk of entrapment when going into bulk grain in a confined space like a bin," he said. "But there are a few things one can do to prevent damage or injury."
Before entering a bin, farmers should make sure the headspace is well ventilated, he said. Deteriorating grain produces carbon dioxide and other gasses, which at high concentrations in a confined space could overcome a person.
"Aerate the bin headspace for about 30 minutes before entering by turning on the fans with the roof hatch open, or just run the headspace exhaust fan prior to entry," Ileleji said.
Farmers should also work in teams when inspecting grain bins.
"Enter with a safety line and have someone keep a lookout for you," Ileleji said. "If you are alone and something happens, you could be lost for some time before someone realizes you are gone and calls for help."
To help farmers learn more about managing stored grain, Purdue Extension is offering a pre/post-harvest workshop July 17 at the Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center, 4425 E. County Road 350 N, Butlerville. It will be repeated Aug. 27 at the Purdue University Diagnostic Training and Research Center, 4540 U.S. 52 W, West Lafayette.
Topics include pre-harvest preparation and stored grain management fundamentals, managing insect pests in grain, optimizing grain drying operations and personnel safety in grain handling. Cost is $55. Continuing education credits will be available.
For more information on the workshops, or stored grain management, contact Ileleji at 765-494-1198 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information and resources on flood-related issues, visit the Purdue Extension Disaster Education Network website at www.purdue.edu/floods.