BROOKINGS, S.D. - Monitoring grain in storage is a key step in the grain production cycle, ensuring corn and other grains stay in top condition.
However, it's an important step many growers forget, says Mark Rosenberg, SDSU Extension agronomy field specialist.
"It's money sitting in that bin. We don't want to take the chance that heating or other problems might start occurring with it, so at least check it monthly during the colder parts of the year," Rosenberg said.
He advises looking for red-flag symptoms that can mean trouble for grain quality.
"We want to be watching for any appearance of crusting developing on the surface or any moldy smells coming from the bin. A real easy one to pick up on is condensation on the roof which means the grain is warm," said Rosenberg, suggesting growers check their bins each month during the cold months of the year. "It's critical that if you do see something, you act as quickly as possible."
Farmers can also probe each grain mass to various depths checking for signs of heating or insects. Rosenberg also suggests taking moisture readings.
"If you do take moisture readings, you want to make sure you take the sample into a warm area, and allow it to sit for a time before taking a moisture reading, because if you take it from a cold sample it tends to be inaccurate so you need to warm the grain up to know exactly what the moisture level of the grain is at that time," he said.
Moving into spring, research recommends checking grain bins every two weeks or more often.
If condition problems are evident, Rosenberg says to get air moving in the bin with aeration fans. Farmers could also remove and sell the grain or feed it to livestock. Fumigation by a professional would be a last resort for saving grain quality.