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Check grain bins for insect infestationPosted Wednesday, November 30, 2011, at 10:51 AM
Now that harvest is over, you can relax some. However with warmer than normal fall temperatures, developing grain insect populations in on-farm grain storage becomes a possibility.
Insect infestations can develop in as little as 3 to 6 weeks following initiation of grain storage. In normal years, cool fall temperatures usually allow the stored grain to be cooled to 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit (F), which causes any insects infesting the grain to become inactive, according to Wayne Bailey Extension entomologist.
Producers should monitor stored grains regularly to assess grain moisture, temperature, and determine if insect pests are present.
Grain should be monitored a minimum of once each month during the winter months of November through April and at least twice per month during the summer months of May through October.
The grain surface and central core are most frequently infested. Special attention should be given to these areas when sampling, but other areas of the grain mass should not be ignored.
First, inspect the top of the grain mass by looking through the door. A sour smell, grain clumped together, condensation present on the inside surface of the bin roof, webbing on the grain surface , or the presence of insect larvae, adult beetles or moths all indicate the presence of an insect infestation.
If an insect infestation is found on the surface and webbing is present, this usually indicates the presence of Indian meal moth. Removal of the webbing and damaged grain along with an application of an appropriately labeled insecticide are recommended.
If the grain was properly leveled and the grain surface treated with an insecticide after filing of the storage structure the previous fall, it is best not to break or disturb the protective cap of insecticide.
An inspection of grain from the interior of the grain mass is also needed. Monitoring of the grain mass is best accomplished through the side access panel by using plastic tube traps, probe traps, and sticky pheromone traps.
These traps are inserted into the grain mass for a certain period of time and then retrieved.
If traps are not available, a quick but less accurate method is to remove some grain from the side door using a grain probe. Samples should be taken from several locations and all put in a jar or plastic bag for observation.
These containers of grain should be place in a warm area to allow the grain to warm to at least 6- degrees F or higher in order to stimulate insect activity.
There are no reliable thresholds for most insects found in stored grain, but if insects are found in the 1 quart samples of grain collected, the grain content of the bin should be either quickly used or treated to control the insects.
All insecticides for stored grain insects have very specific labeled uses so special attention must be given when selecting an appropriate insecticide.
Be sure to read and follow all insecticide label instructions, restrictions, and precautions when using insecticides for the management of stored grain insect pests.
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As our local University of Missouri Agronomy Extension Specialist, Crook has been writing a column for the print edition Agriculture page for the past three years and we will now be sharing it on our web version. Crook has a bachelor and masters degree in agronomy from University of Missouri and received his doctorate in Agronomy from Kansas State University. He was in soybean variety development research for 22 years for various seed companies and has been Saline County's agronomy specialist for 10 years.