Grain storage concerns after warm winter

Published: Mar. 31, 2017 at 7:20 AM CDT
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Harvested corn, like all food, can spoil or grow mold in certain situations. Farmers have to take care to keep their product safe to sell.

Last fall, there was a large crop and farmers had to pile grain. On top of that, the humidity or dew point was high, so there are concerns that the shelf life of corn may be lower.

In Jasper County, Brock Hansen explains how he keeps high quality corn, "Well, once the grain is harvested and dried and put into the storage bins as you see here, we try to monitor that every 30 days. We'll aerate the bins every 30 days for at least 24 to 48 hours depending on dew points and temperature."

What Hansen does is what Iowa State University Grain Specialist Charles Hurburgh suggests. Hurburgh says there weren't more than two or three days below 45 degrees until the end of November, which meant grain couldn't get cooled as well after the driers. Then, there was one of the warmest winters on record.

That concerns Hurburgh who thinks the shelf life was hurt. Going into this year there could be high potential for hot spots or blue eyed mold.

A couple billion bushels of corn also have to make it until 2018 because there's a lot of surplus grain.

In addition, Hurburgh says Iowa has turned to processing demand either in feed or ethanol, "We have a year round processing economy now in Iowa, which means we need good corn all the way through the year. My guess is that we will have some difficulty in finding number 2 grade corn, which is 5 percent damaged kernels, we'll have difficulty in finding that come June, July, and August."

Hansen says the grain quality of his 2016 harvest is good, great test weights and no problems with toxins.

He adds it's important to keep monitoring corn to know the condition, "You try to get in the bins and walk around, see if you're getting a crust on the top of them. Check the condition, check the smell of it. That is, it creates a safety hazard as well. You want to be very careful when you're working inside of the bins."

Hansen emphasizes safety in the bins, suggesting a spotter to prevent accidents.

Hurburgh says they like to have corn temperature in the low 30s, which is harder to come by as Spring approaches. He says farmers need to jump on any opportunities to extend the life of their grain.