There is one word that keeps appearing in every harvest discussion: early.
Early is great, but perhaps the best news of all is that we have an abundance of good-quality grain, something we could only dream about last year.
Even though we have many mature, full kernels with minimal fines and foreign material, we must make sure we don’t get complacent and let our guard down.
All of the same storage and aeration rules still apply if you intend to keep your grain that way.
It is important to remember grain temperature and moisture content dictate the “allowable storage time” of the grain -- how long you have to dry the grain and how long it can be kept before it spoils.
Allowable storage time begins at harvest. Here is an example of how to calculate allowable storage time of corn using the chart provided:
Assume you harvest 26 percent moisture corn with a grain temperature of 60 degrees.
The chart shows that 26 percent corn at 60 degrees must be dried within eight days.
Now assume that after four days we’ve dried this grain down to 18 percent and cooled it to 50 degrees. How long can we safely store this corn? It’s not what you think!
Corn at 26 percent moisture and 60 degrees stored for four days has used half of its total storage life. Drying the corn to 18 percent and cooling it to 50 degrees does not mean you can store it for 128 more days as the chart shows.
Half of the allowable storage time already has been used, so the actual storage time remaining is only 64 days.
NOTE: Corn storage temperature shown on the chart is KERNEL temperature. This chart is based on clean, good-quality corn. Corn with 10 percent mechanical damage can cut the allowable storage time in half. Large amounts of fines and foreign material will shorten storage time even more.
Here are recommended moisture levels for safely storing corn on the farm:
- 17 percent is considered low enough if corn is to be fed to livestock during the winter.
- 15 percent is recommended for corn that will removed from storage before the start of summer.
- 13 percent is recommended for corn that is to be carried into summer or stored longer than one year.
Remember, safe storage is dependent on well-managed aeration through any seasonal changes.