Check Grain Bins More Frequently in Wet Weather

With heavy rains, flooding 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, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering. “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.”

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