Solve Your Corn Storage Problems

November 24, 2008 06:00 PM

Sara Muri, AgWeb Crops Online Editor
Is your corn's moisture still testing high? Will your yields surpass your grain-drying capacity? Are you unsure about putting up more grain bins? This growing season has been anything but normal, and is raising uncommon questions at harvest time.
Charles Hurburgh, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University, knows many farmers are facing unusual circumstances this year.
Hurburgh says this year is unique because:
  • Farmers are seeing relatively high yields, which can pressure grain-drying capacity
  • The moisture content is higher
  • The growing season has lasted longer than normal, which has caused lower test weights for some
With these factors combined, farmers are more likely to see lower grain quality, he says. Hurburgh offers the following advice to increase the shelf life of your corn.
Step Through the Drying Process
"We aren't going to get much field dry-down now,” Hurburgh says. So, instead of waiting and wishing the corn will magically drop a few moisture points, he suggests harvesting and drying down in steps.
Hurburgh says a good way for farmers to spread out their drying costs is to dry down the corn part of the way, keep it cool and then finish drying it down to the optimal level. "You can buy some time,” he says.
Be Ready For a Cool Down
To keep grain in good quality longer, Hurburgh says getting the grain cool – and keeping it cool – is imperative. "You want to reduce the grain to as cold of a temperature as quickly as possible,” Hurburgh says.  
Luckily, he says, the weather is cooperating to help cool grain, since the air is dry.
He suggests keeping grain cool and an around 18%-moisture content through the winter. Since there is a larger amount of wet grain this year, Hurburgh recommends checking the grain weekly and monitoring it more closely as temperatures increase next spring.
Earmark the Right Grain for Storage
Hurburgh notes some grain will last longer in storage due to conditions at harvest, moisture and test weight. He suggests storing grain that has the highest test weight, was harvested below 20% moisture and with the least amount of non-grain debris.
He says by knowing what grain you will market and when, you will capitalize on your storage and drying capacity. "Your marketing plans and grain storage plans have to come to together,” Hurburgh says.
For More Information

You can e-mail Sara Muri at


This article appeared in the latest issue of AgWeb's Corn eNewsletter. To sign up for a free subscription, click here.

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