Managing stored grain to minimize storage losses

When grain harvest approaches, it’s important to review basic on-farm storage principles to maintain the quality of stored grain.

During harvest, prepare storage structures to receive grain, which includes practices to help prevent pest infestations. To maximize grain quality, use appropriate production and harvest practices as well as properly maintain and use grain handling equipment, drying systems and storage structures.

Here, we outline the four steps to maintain post-harvest quality and protect stored grains from insects, weather, rodents, self-heating, molds, mycotoxins and pesticide residues.

Step 1: Sanitize the bin and surrounding areas

Be sure the storage structure as well as any grain-handling equipment (conveyors, wagons, trucks, elevators) are free of leftover grain. Cleanup is most effective when completed in early spring or immediately after emptying bins.

Unnecessary grain residue present during early summer only allows insect infestations to increase as temperatures warm. Even small amounts of moldy or insect-infested grain left in the equipment can contaminate a bin of new grain.

You can simultaneously complete repairs such as sealing cracks and holes. When moving old grain to different storage, screen and, if infested, treat it by fumigating.

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Step 2: Combine and load grain into storage

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Step 3: Aerate the grain

In the fall, aerate to cool the stored grain and create a better storage environment in bins with capacities greater than 2,000 to 3,000 bushels. 

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Step 4: Monitor stored grain

Regularly check stored grain for temperature, moisture, insects and molds. 

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Phil Glogoza, Extension educator and Dave Nicolai, Extension educator 

Reviewed in 2018

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