As spring arrives in your area, you may find that it’s suddenly a bigger challenge to keep grain cool in your bins. This is a common problem for many grain producers as the seasons begin to change. Uneven bin temperatures risk your grain going out of condition from insect activity and mold development. That translates into decreased profits.
So how can you keep grain cool as spring gets into full swing?
Keep watch on the temperature and moisture levels of your stored grain either onsite or remotely. While it’s important any time of the year, you’ll want to keep a closer eye on stored grain during spring when temperatures tend to fluctuate.
Kevin Hellevang, North Dakota State University Service, recommends checking your grain’s condition a minimum of every two weeks. That’s if everything is going well at each check.
When it comes to checking your grain, don’t fall into the habit of looking at the results without documenting them. A record-keeping system is very important so that you can track the temperature trends. Without this information recorded, you can’t accurately determine if a problem is developing.
While a slight rise in grain temperature can mean nothing, it can also bloom into something big in three to four weeks. Therefore, frequent temperature checks go a long way toward keeping grain healthy and protecting profits.
The Role of Temperature Cables Inside Your Grain Bins
As temperatures rise during spring, there is also a tendency for temperature increases in stored grain. The nature of a grain bin aids in raising grain temperatures even on the coldest spring mornings.
As the sun rises, the south side of the grain bin is warmed. This creates a situation where the grain on the south side of the bin is warmer than the rest. In addition, days are getting longer, and overall temperatures are rising. Now is when you’ll need to make adjustments to your monitoring schedule.
Depending on where you live, the ideal temperature you need to keep grain cool can differ. If you live in the northern part of the United States, then aim for at or near 30 F. Those who live in the southern part should shoot for a temperature below 40 F. These temps are standard markers for daytime during March and April according to Hellevang.
The time-tested approach to monitoring grain condition is with temperature sensors suspended on cables inside the grain bins. Sensors measure the temperature of the grain around them. To make the best use of these temperature cables, you’ll want to place them strategically according to bin size, so you get complete coverage inside the bin.
You’ll definitely want to be sure cables are within a couple feet of the south wall to provide accurate information about change in grain temperatures.
Use Bin Fans Wisely
Of course, the best way to keep grain cool is through the aeration of a grain bin. There are a few tips that you can use to maximize the efficiency of your fans. First, keep fans and ducts covered when not in use. Open aeration systems will create a natural chimney that will push warm, moist air up through the grain. This rush of warm air can easily raise the daily maximum temperature, which can lead to problems.
Another issue you can easily handle is the buildup of heat in the top of the bin. This increase in temperature is the same as what you feel in an attic. To release some of this heat, add an air inlet to the grain bin eave with an air outlet placed near the peak.
Use your bin fan for additional cooling if the grain in your bin is unevenly warm. The fan will pull air up through the grain so that it is uniformly cooled. To maximize effectiveness, pick a cool morning in the summer to run your fan for a few hours. This may only need to be done every two to three weeks. However, each time you run your fan, cover the fan to keep grain from reheating again.
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It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to keep grain cool. High temperatures and moisture can very quickly lead to grain loss in a matter of weeks.