Do you know what’s going on in your bin right now? You should.
What’s happening with the grain in your bin should never be a mystery.
Part of any farmer’s grain marketing plan should include staying on top of what is happening with the crop they invested time, energy, machine hours, and money into throughout the growing season.
What common issues are producers having right now?
The short answer: it has been a quiet year.
Dr. Joy Agnew is the Associate Vice President at Olds College. She says this past harvest season was a little bit more friendly.
“So, moisture management in the bin wasn’t as big of an issue or there wasn’t a whole lot of requirement for drying level last fall.”
A sentiment that is shared by Jeremy Boychyn, who is the Agronomy Research Extension Specialist at the Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley.
When asked about what issues were common in the bin right now by Ag Exchange for this article, he carried out an informal poll on Twitter to get producer’s pulse.
As the poll indicates, producers haven’t seen much in the way of issues with 77 per cent of respondents only seeing minor issues at this point in the game.
However, both Boychyn and Agnew say producers shouldn’t drop their guard just because grain was in good shape when it was stored.
Boychyn says that producers still need to be checking their bins every one to two weeks.
“To see if any are showing signs of heating or if any smells are coming from the fans.”
Boychyn also believes producers shouldn’t be afraid to probe the grain for any issues, including insects.
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Both Boychyn and Agnew say it is a big bonus, if the producer has in-bin monitoring, to check it on their phone.
Agnew says even with dry grain or nearly dry grain, farmers can get moisture migration with temperature variation.
“When the outside temperature is fluctuating like it has been (on some parts of the prairies) when it gets really cold, and then it warms up, you can get those natural convection cycles within the bin that then moves moisture around.”
So, even with a bin that was loaded with dry grain, you can get pockets of moisture because of those convection currents.
So, what does a producer do if that happens?
Hopefully, Agnew says, they have a method in place to find out or to monitor those situations. If they notice moisture, migration, convection currents, and the possibility of high moisture pockets, they probably need to move the grain.
“Pull it out of the bin, put it into temporary storage or another bin or just move it around, break up that spot.”
She adds a secondary option: break up that moist spot or potential hot spot by blowing air through the grain.
Know what you put in the bin
Since things are looking good right now, let’s back up and look at what a grain storage plan should like as part of your grain marketing plan.
What shape was the grain in when it went into the bin? Was it hot? Was there a lot of moisture?
These are the questions that need to be asked as it is coming off the field and into storage.
If it was put in the bin and there wasn’t a chance to dry it, a farmer will know it is in a higher risk category for moisture content, meaning somebody should keep a sharp eye on it at all times.
Agnew says checking should be a regular habit, especially if the grain was binned in not ideal storage conditions.
“They didn’t get a chance to dry it, and you know it is in that higher risk moisture content, or when the temperature when it was bin really hot and considered high risk.”
She says you should be monitoring it probably weekly or bi-weekly if possible.
Learn as much as possible
Agnew’s main advice: learn as much as possible about grain storage and management, and have a plan in place going into the fall.
“So that if you have more than expected tough grain or there are situations that arise over the winter, you have a plan in place to rectify that.”
She says the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) is an excellent place to start as they have several resources on their grain storage page.