Corn harvest is progressing well with the recent dry weather. With current prices, storing the grain for a better market is a possibility. The current expected crop haws some experts saying that producers may store the crop for up to a couple of years. In addition to the length of storage, some producers are holding corn above 15 percent moisture and blending on the farm. All of these factors can contribute to the grain being more difficult to keep in condition.
The two factors that determine grain storage life are storage moisture and grain temperature. To store corn through spring, moisture should be no higher than 15 percent. To safely store corn through next fall, moisture should be no higher than 14 percent and to store for one year or more, moisture should be at 13 percent. The reason that grain needs to be at 13 percent moisture is that at 13 percent there is little or no free water in the grain. Mold and insects can't access bound water, so they can't grow or survive. As free water increases, storage life decreases and chances of out-of-condition grain increase. For example, corn at 50 degrees and 15 percent moisture has an expected storage life of 384 days while corn at 50 degrees and 13 percent moisture has an expected storage life of 2520 days.
Above 15 percent moisture, there is never enough aeration air to properly dry the grain, so water is moved from the bottom to the middle of the bin. This condition may blend as the bin empties, but it is still there.
For safe storage of soybeans, grain moisture levels should be at 14 percent for storage till spring, 12 percent for grain stored for up to one year and 11 percent for grain stored for longer than one year.
After the grain is stored the next thing to do is to check on it regularly. When temperatures are quickly changing in the fall and spring, make weekly observations of grain in bins. When temperature variations are minimal (such as in winter) observations can be reduced to every two or three weeks. Some things to watch for are surface conditions, temperatures, grain condition and different smells. Grain that is crusting, wet or slimy as well as ice or frost accumulation and/or heating, can be a sign of poor conditions and spoilage.
Safety is the number one consideration when working around stored grain. The best practice for grain bin safety is to never enter the grain bin. Falling through a crust into a cavity, being sucked into the grain as you try to unplug a discharge, or having a wall of standing grain fall on someone all come from grain that is compromised.