With experts forecasting near-record corn and soybean harvests for Indiana, a Purdue Extension grain handling specialist is advising producers to make sure their crops are adequately dried for storage.
"We've been lucky to have good weather in the growing season and with declining commodity prices it is most likely that quite a lot of grain will be held in storage for a while," said Klein Ileleji, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering. "Timely harvesting and adequate drying to a safe moisture content are two key decisions that could affect how well you are able to manage your gran in storage."
In an article appearing in Purdue's Pest & Crop online newsletter, Ileleji explains that excess moisture puts grain at a higher risk of spoilage, making adequate post-harvest drying especially important for producers who plan to store their crop while they wait for a better time to sell.
Shelled corn and grain sorghum should be dried to a moisture content of 15 percent if it will be kept in storage for up to six months and 13 percent if it will be stored for six months to a year or more. Soybeans should be dried to a moisture content of 13 percent if they will be stored for six months, 12 percent if they will be stored for six months to a year and 11 percent if they will be stored for a year or more.
Consistently wet weather this fall could make field dry-down more difficult, Ileleji said.
"Rains reduce field dry-down rates of grain and prevent combines and grain wagons from working on the field," he said. "It could also cause stalk rot development that can lead to weak stalks that lodge on the field. Lodged stalks will lead to harvest losses and contamination from soil."
Ileleji recommends using a mechanical dryer if possible to dry the grain to an appropriate level of moisture content. It is important to make sure the drying equipment is well maintained and in good working order, he said.
"Wet corn will not flow smoothly through the machine and could clog the mechanism," he said. "Because post-harvest drying is a time-consuming process, there is a tendency to try to do too much at once, which simply leads to breakdowns and additional delays."
Ileleji stressed that operators should never reach into a drying unit or storage bin with flowing grain to clear a jam.
"That is a significant safety hazard," he said.
To read Ileleji's full article, go to https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/pestcrop/2016/Issue23/.