Farmers have a reason to be concerned with grain quality this harvest season because of wet weather this year, says Linda Mason Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service pest management specialist says.
"This year is going to be a challenge for farmers," Mason says. "The moisture content in corn is between 18 and 22%. Ideally, we would like to see it at 12-14%."
Farmers who are not able to dry their corn in a timely manner might notice mold and insect infestation in their grain bins.
Mason suggests drying corn at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.
"The problem with drying the corn fast and at a high heat is kernel breakage," Mason says. "The kernel heats up too fast and cools quickly. As it drops into the bin, hairline fractures can occur, which enables the kernel to break. This allows insects to feed on the broken pieces."
Farmers, she says, should sample their corn more often this year than they have in the past, especially if there are warm spots in the bins.
"Producers should sample at least once a month throughout the winter season," Mason says.
The hairy fungus beetle and foreign grain beetle will be threats to farmers this year, she says. They feed on mold, not the corn itself.
"If farmers see these insects, there is a good indication that the bin has mold growth in it, even if not visible," Mason says.
Bins that have mold also are a breeding spot for insects. Those bins that are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit will allow the insects to mobilize and breed.
"If producers keep the moisture content low, the temperature below 55 degrees and run cool air through the bins on dry nights, they will not have to worry until spring," Mason says.
If farmers are still having insect issues when spring approaches, they can top-dress the corn in the bins with insecticide to kill incoming insects or fumigate the bins.
"Farmers should fumigate their bins if there are already insects present," Mason says.
New release provided by Purdue University.