CHAMPAIGN- URBANA, ILLINOIS - Many of you can recall the problems (and loss of income) associated with delivering corn last spring and summer that was not stored properly. A lot of this was due to the extreme moisture ranges of corn that was harvested and stored. The extremes in moisture translated into pockets of corn that were high in moisture and which eventually heated up. Then the snowball effect took over, and much of the bin had corn with blue eye storage mold. Too many producers had corn go out of condition, and the result was dockage as the corn was delivered. We sure did not have the problems at harvest in 2010 like we did the year before, but we still need to keep a close watch on stored corn. Although the corn went into the bin last fall in great shape, it does not take much to allow corn to go out of condition. Since there is not a lot of corn in storage right now, we want to keep what little there is in good condition.

Remember the blizzard we had the first couple of days of February? That blowing snow found its way into every bin of corn and soybeans. In fact, in some bins there were 6 to 8 inches or more of snow cover. The snow eventually melted and probably will not cause too much concern. However, there is always the uncertainty that the little bit of added moisture could potentially causing harm. You certainly do not want to assume anything, especially in hindsight of last year. If nothing else, that snow could have caused crusting on the surface, which can impede air flow and can subsequently lead to grain going out of condition.

The warmer temperatures of spring remind us to bring up the temperature of the stored grain to prevent grain spoilage. Keeping the grain mass temperature to within 10 degrees of the outside air reduces the chances of spoilage. Temperature differences cause condensation to occur. When grain gains moisture, it also gains heat, and then you get the snowball effect.

The big question is when to turn the fan on to bring up the temperature of the grain. If the grain is in good shape, you can delay the timing as keeping the grain cooler reduces the opportunities for spoilage or insect damage to occur. However, if the grain is somewhat suspect, you need to get the grain temperature and outside temperature to within 10 degrees to prevent any additional concern.

Take time now to pull samples from your bins to determine moisture conditions. Pull the core out of each bin (if you have not already done so) to reduce fines and to improve air flow. Pull and probe each bin for grain moistures, and take a number of samples from each bin. We want to keep what is in those bins in good shape to avoid the dockages seen last year.

SOURCE: University of Illinois Extension