As if dealing with this year’s drought wasn’t enough, storing the stressed corn could present a host of challenges, including drydown methods, mold, leftover fi ne material in bins and insects, says Richard Stroshine, Purdue University grain-quality specialist.

Grain could be going into bins at higher moisture levels and temperatures because many farmers planted and harvested extra early, when temperatures are hotter than in the typical harvest months. Unless farmers work fast to dry down to appropriate levels, the crop could spoil in the bin, Stroshine says. If grain is placed in a bin dry, it needs to be cooled using aeration.

That is especially true of corn. “Mold will grow at 15 percent moisture if the corn is fairly warm --- say, 80° F or so,” Stroshine says. “It’s very slow, but there still can be mold growth that could eventually compromise your ability to store the corn.”

For early harvested corn, he recommends a stored moisture content of 14.5 percent, or 13 percent if the grain will be stored through next summer. To get down to those levels rapidly, use high-temperature, cross-fl ow drying.

Farmers who need to dry grain in the bin can increase the drying rate using a technique called layer drying, Stroshine adds. Like the name implies, a farmer will place grain in the bin in layers while continuously drying.

“That fi rst layer will dry faster than normal, and by the time you put your second layer in the bin you will have gotten some fi eld drydown of that grain, which should save some in-bin drying time,” he points out.

“Another thing to remember is if you don’t remove the fi ne material from the bin before you put grain into it you’ll need to core your bin. Fine material tends to concentrate in the center of the bin,” Stroshine says.

To core the bin, open the center well and pull out a load; a lot of those fines should come out.

“If your grain is peaked you also should level the top surface, which is very important for good aeration,” he adds.

Here are some other considerations:

  • Grain breakage: “Dry kernels and kernels that have been invaded by fungi in the fi eld will break up more easily. So set your combine at the lowest cylinder speed you can to get a decent removal of kernels from the cobs,” Stroshine notes. “You’ll also probably have foreign material with those kernels that could cause problems.”
  • Aspergillus ear rot: The hot, dry summer has provided a good environment for the development of this fungus. It produces afl atoxin, which can be harmful or fatal to livestock.
  • Insects: Higher populations of graindamaging bugs are expected this year with the warmer temperatures and the availability of fi nes as food.

Additional grain-storage tips are available at grainquality.org.