Because the harvest window will likely be tight this fall, consider combining your crop at higher moisture contents to ensure you salvage as many bushels as possible.
“I know it will be wetter, but starting at 28% or so gives you a week or two more time to get grain in,” says Gary Woodruff, GSI district manager. “If frost comes early, [and the crop hasn’t reached black layer and is, therefore, incredibly wet] you’ll immediately take your dryer to half or less of normal capacity.”
Drying high-moisture grain presents challenges. Use these tips from Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University Extension ag engineer, to maintain crop quality:
- Consider cooling grain and holding it until early spring to dry if outside temperatures are below 35°F. Cool grain to 20°F to 25°F for winter storage and complete drying in April to avoid spoilage. Cooling grain requires a positive-pressure airflow rate of 0.2 cubic feet per minute, per bushel or 12 cubic feet per minute per hour of fill rate.
- Limit grain depth to 20' to 22' to keep desirable airflow rate for drying.
- Don’t run fans during rain, fog or snow to minimize moisture in the bin.
- If using a high-temperature dryer, set it at the highest temperature that won’t damage the grain to increase the dryer’s capacity while reducing energy consumption. For example, the energy to remove 1 lb. of water is about 20% less at 200°F than at 150°F.
Frequently check corn until it dries down to optimal moisture at 13%, soybeans to 11% and wheat to 13% to avoid spoilage in long-term storage, Hellevang says. If unable to cool the grain, corn with moisture content higher than 21% will need to dry in a high-temperature dryer because it can deteriorate rapidly.
“If you’re using in-bin systems, you’ll either need a circulator or stirring device if you plan on putting anything in over 20% moisture,” explains David Luff, president of Luffland Builders, who sells Sukup and Brock grain bins. “If you don’t, you will overdry the bottom and the top will be wet.”