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Warming up from winter: grain management tips

10 Apr 2017
by Samantha Scantlebury

POSTED IN grain storage POSTED IN Grain management

Warming up from winter: grain management tips

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W
ith spring's arrival, attention turns to the fields. But don't forget that the rising temperatures also affect any grain you've still got in on-farm storage. Below, IntelliFarms provides some reminders of managing grain in the grain bin as temperatures warm.

If you have grain still in the bins:

  • The illustration below shows how during the spring, warm air caused by the warmer outside air and bin walls circulates and then comes in contact with cooler grain toward the center of the bin. When the warm air meets the cool grain, there is the potential for condensation. With condensation, it is possible for the wetter pockets of grain to be more vulnerable to spoilage if not managed. At bare minimum, IntelliFarms recommends that you monitor changes in temperature and moisture in the bins. This will help you to make necessary decisions to better manage grain quality. Monitoring and automated management technologies are available to help you with this. 



  •  There is not a one-size-fits-all solution or management strategy for all bins in the spring. There are some sources that recommend warming up stored grain in the spring, but this may not be the right approach for all bins. It can be affected by geography/weather patterns, bin and fan specs, grain type, etc. Talk with a trusted storage resource or an IntelliFarms representative to determine the appropriate strategy for your grain, especially if you observe changes in temperature and moisture in the grain bin. 
  • For BinManager customers, we also recommend that you check to make sure you're set up to receive alerts and that your switches are in "Auto." At this time your BinManager is still measuring conditions and running fans accordingly. Spring can be an ideal time to finish the process of drying or hydrating your grain. 

If your bins are empty:

  • We advise preparing bins for use later this year. Harvest is a busy time, and this will save you the time and stress then by completing now. Preparations include:
    • Sanitize your bins. Even a small amount of grain with mold or insect infestation left in the bin from this year's harvest can contaminate new grain emptied into the bin next harvest. It is better to take care of the issue early, rather than let the contamination multiply throughout the course of the summer. 
    • Check your bin foundation, roof, walls, vents and hatches for any cracks or holes. Fill the gaps and make plans to repair or replace components that have deteriorated prior to next year's harvest.
    • Inspect your fans, heaters and electrical wiring and repair or replace any deteriorated components. 
    • If you have cables in the bin, tie them down to the bin floor using fishing line. This important step can be easily forgotten once harvest hits. Having cables straight up-and-down will ensure they are spaced to give you accurate measurements of your grain.
    • For those with a BinManager system, turn the fan and/or heater switches on the Master Controller box to the "Off" position. However, leave your BinManager system power "On." IntelliFarms' engineers are constantly making updates to help your system perform optimally. Leaving the system on will ensure that these software updates can be sent wirelessly to the Master Controller box throughout the summer, rather than have them all hit at once at harvest.
    • For BinManager users, make the necessary settings updates so that you don't receive unnecessary alerts for that bin. Update mode to "Monitor Only" operating mode,  sensors in grain to "Auto" and commodity to "Empty."

Final thoughts:

  • If you plan on adding to your grain storage operation this year, there are often still winter/spring discounts in effect with your grain bin and grain silo dealers as well as other equipment dealers. Take advantage and have these conversations now. Make sure that your new grain bin or grain silo plans work toward your needs and goals - IntelliFarms offers a list of questions you should discuss with your bin dealer or representative before you order and build. Download list
    Download bin project question list
  • Spring is also a good time to consider changes in your storage technology for the following season. 3G Plus cables are now available for temperature and moisture measurement and reporting in all sensors. Or talk to your IntelliFarms rep if interested in upgrading to Inventory management. 
Management of your grain bins when temperatures are changing can be challenging. Contact your IntelliFarms representative or the IntelliFarms headquarters at any time for consultation.