Tips to Carry Your Grain Forward

01:51PM Dec 06, 2019
Grain bin fan
Extend your grain’s shelf life with smart management
( Lindsey Benne )

Once your 2019 grain is in the bin, it will likely need extra care, attention and management.

“There will be issues when poor quality grain is put into storage for a longer period than normal,” says Tom Dahl, president of the American Association of Grain Inspection and Weighing Agencies.

Your grain is cash in your hand, if you manage it properly. Avoid spoilage and quality deductions with these tips.

Take Out The Moisture Fast

“We need to get grain dried down as fast as we can,” says Mark Licht, Iowa State University Extension agronomist. “If you want to store corn, dry it down to 13% or 14% moisture — or about one or two percentage points lower than normal.”

Keep An Eye Out For Trouble

If moisture is above 16%, check the grain temperature frequently for hot spots and potential mold growth, suggests Tom Dorn at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

  • Monitor grain temperatures and run aeration fans if there is greater than a 5°F to 8°F difference in temperature in more than two spots in the bin.
  • Run stirrers to break up wet spots and even the grain’s moisture levels.
  • If you smell mold or see condensation, aerate the bin.  Monthly aeriation can help prevent these issues.

Use Outdoor Weather

If you have wet grain in the bin, warm and dry weather can help dry the grain versus reintroducing moisture into the bin. Find equilibrium moisture to see if it will be a net gain to run aeration, Dorn says.

For example, if the outdoor temperature is 50°F and relative humidity is 60%, the equilibrium moisture content is 14.5%, according to University of Arkansas research. So, if the grain moisture in the bin is higher than that, you can turn on fans to dry. 

What You Can Do in 2020

No one can control the weather, so change your management to offset its risk. “There are two things I can do to better prepare for a tough harvest like we had in 2019,” says Tim Burrack, a farmer from northeast Iowa. “I can plant early season corn hybrids that can be harvested before soybeans or I can put in a much bigger LP storage tank where I can take transport loads.”

To find equilibrium moisture content data and 13 signs something went wrong in your grain bins, visit