Larry’s Letters: April 2017

The seasons are changing, the winter temperatures are slowly leaving and spring temperatures will soon be on their way. It is time to think about the corn that is currently stored in your bins, the corn that is being held into summer in hopes of a market rally. If that corn is going to be held past the end of May, we need to think about warming it to 60°-70° F. for summer storage. One very important factor to consider before doing this would be the moisture content of that corn. Keeping corn into the summer is something that should be planned for when the corn is being dried and put into the storage bin. Corn that is held over winter and into the summer should be dried to 14% or below moisture content. If you did not dry it to 14% or below moisture content and have not sold it before late spring/early summer, you may want to rethink keeping that corn into the summer months.
Corn, like any other perishable product, does have a shelf life. That total shelf life can be the difference between a #1 & a #3 grade. If it was initially dried to 15% and then cooled to 50° F. in September, by the end of April, 66% of its shelf life is now gone. Now, if the grain temperature is raised to 60°, the 33% shelf life that is left, equates to approximately 70 days before 1 grade is lost. If the corn temperature is raised to 70°, then the 33% shelf life becomes 40 days and #2 corn now becomes #3 corn. In this time of lower market prices, that can mean the difference between a profit or a loss. (All this information assumes that the grain moisture was tested accurately and the grain was cooled to 50° immediately when dried.) Now, if the corn had been initially dried to 14% instead of 15%, handled in the same manner and the temperature raised to 60°, there would still be almost one year of shelf life left at the end of May.
I would not recommend raising the corn temperature above 65°, if possible. Insect and mold activity seem to start at around 70°. It is also a good idea to seal off the aeration fans on your bins. As the air temperature warms, the warm air will move up through the corn, if the fans are not sealed, & warm the corn in the bottom of the bin. As we all know, warm & cold next to each other causes condensation, which is not a good thing to have in a bin full of grain. Take the extra time to pay attention to what is happening in your bins, that grain stored in those metal cans is your livelihood.
Happy Growing,
Larry

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