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Large Amounts of Stored Grain Need Attention with Safety in Mind


The perfect storm exists for more grain bin accidents in 2017 since farmers are storing more grain on-farm than ever before, says University of Missouri Extension natural resources engineer Charles Ellis.

Low prices and surplus grain motivate farmers to store grain longer in hopes for higher prices. Ellis spoke recently at the Audrain County Soils and Crop Conference in Mexico.

“We’ve got a lot of grain sitting on the farm that we need to check on,” he says.

The U.S. Grains Council reported that the 2016 corn crop contained a higher moisture content and required more drying than the previous year’s crop.

Wet grain causes farmers to enter bins more often to check for crusting, spoilage and other issues. Ellis reminds farmers to brush up on grain bin safety during Grain Bin Safety Week, Feb. 19-25. “It’s a good time to review safety practices for farmworkers, family members and farm visitors. Never go in a bin alone or without safety equipment,” he says.

Fluctuating temperatures in February also cause concern. Major temperature changes result in condensation inside the bin. To keep grain in condition, Ellis recommends bin aeration when air temperatures change rapidly.

Ellis suggests that farmers sample the temperature of bin-stored corn in layers. Odors indicate out-of-condition grain, insect infestation, mold and fungi. All reduce grain quality and market value. Also, check for melting snow on the grain bin roof. Lack of snow on the roof when it is snowing indicates out-of-condition grain. Probing resistance, sprouting, color and bridging tell of moisture problems.

Ellis suggests the following resources for farmers with on-farm storage. (Links to all the resources are available at extension.missouri.edu/grainstorage.)
  • The Bin Drying Estimator (Excel spreadsheet) estimates the time needed to dry stored crops.
  • Missouri Crop Resource Guide’s grain management page lists information on grain drying and storage costs, economic returns of grain drying, and grain shrinkage and moisture.
  • The MU Commercial Agriculture Program’s Horizon Point website offers precise weather information to Missouri farmers. The program has information on grain drying and offers an example grain drying report.
More information is available in these MU Extension publications:
Source: University of Missouri Extension

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