With harvest in full swing, in a year of such hot dry conditions, cooling grain is an important practice to use on your farm. Keeping grain cool prevents insect infestation and mold in your bins. This will be vital to prevent spoilage and minimize losses.

There are four different strategies you can use to control grain temperature and moisture content:

  • aeration to control temperature;
  • natural air drying to control both temperature and moisture content;
  • supplemental heat to control moisture content; and
  • heated air drying.

Each strategy has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is important to monitor the grain temperature and moisture content often by measuring multiple places on the surface, along the walls and within the grain bin every two weeks. You may want to consider installing monitoring systems in large bins. The significant amount of grain in these bins makes it difficult to push air through, which increases the potential for grain spoilage and financial losses.

According to North Dakota State University studies, each six-degree increase in grain temperature causes the allowable storage time to be cut in half. Allowable storage time also increases by 50 to 75 per cent for each percentage point that the grain moisture decreases. Ideal temperature for insects in bins is 21 to 32 C, so it is important to stay below this level.

Reference the Natural Air Grain Drying factsheets to find more information on recommended temperatures and moisture levels for each crop type. These factsheets also provide cooling and drying specifics.

For more information, contact the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377 or contact your local crops extension specialist.

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