Grain Safety Must Be Top of Mind in Current Conditions

Dec 22, 2023
The 2023 crop was one for the record books, in both positive and negative ways.  We endured a drought, caught those million-dollar rains, and grew a crop many thought would never come. That crop brought a challenging fall because the corn was wet and dryers struggled to keep up. This forced elevators, processors, and farmers alike to handle the crop in alternative ways. Speeding up dryers, not cooling corn properly, and putting wet corn in storage bins were all done in an effort to store a record crop.
As you work to close the books on 2023, Co-Alliance would like to remind you of the 2009 harvest. It was very similar to this year and with that came a higher number of grain bin entrapments. Why is that? Often in years such as 2009 - or this year - we attempt to store grain without following the best practices. The following are a few reminders for safely storing and handling grain:
  • Aeration - Operate the fan long enough to uniformly cool all of the grain in the bin until all the grain is at a temperature between 30° and 40° F. Corn properly cooled can be held at up to 15%-16% moisture through the winter if it is to be sold, fed or dried down further before April 1 (March 15 in southern Indiana). (1).
  • In-Bin Drying - Aeration is NOT drying although small moisture changes do occur with a change in temperature (2). Please be mindful of storing grain about 15.5% moisture for extended periods of time, in hopes the grain will dry with aeration. Outside air conditions need to be near perfect for effective drying.
  • Bin Coring - Broken grain and foreign material, or fines, can create two problems in stored grain, particularly when they accumulate in pockets. First, broken kernels are more susceptible to spoilage than unbroken ones. Second, airflow from aeration fans tends to go around pockets of fines so they cool more slowly. These pockets often develop into hot spots that result in spoiled grain. (2)
  • Bin Monitoring- Take the time to inspect bins periodically for odor, temperature, and quality. Here are a few recommendations:
    • Look for melting snow or frost on bin roofs, indicating warm grain or hot spots.
    • Feel the temperature and smell air leaving the fans or vents.
    • Visually inspect quality from a top entry door (safely, of course!). If grain has been pulled from the bin look for columns, crusting, etc. 
  • Bin Entry-Never enter a bin when grain is being unloaded. In flowing grain, you have only 2-4 seconds before you are helpless, even at modest 6-inch auger flow rates. (2) Even if the sump plugs, there are ways to avoid the entry!
Regardless of whether you deliver grain to Co-Alliance, please don’t hesitate to contact our grain or safety divisions with any questions or concerns.

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