To Monitor Stored Grain

On December 26, 2018

To Monitor Stored Grain

For many farms across the state, harvest dragged into December. However before calling this year a wrap and planning for 2019, Extension Agronomist Zach Larson explains it’s time to ensure that this year’s crop is properly stored.  

Regular monitoring of grain bins will ensure that you still have good quality grain when it comes time to fill a truck and send it off to market.

Storage problems often occur in grain bins due to inadequate cooling, resulting in condensation and crusted grain layers.  Mold can result from high moisture content, excessive fines and damaged grain from high drying temperatures.  Broken kernels can also be especially susceptible to insect feeding.  When grain moisture increases, bacteria and fungi can decompose grain resulting in caking near the surface of the pile. Once grain is caked, bins can’t be effectively aerated without breaking up or removing the encrusted grain.

Grain is typically 15 to 30 percent moisture when placed in a bin. A dryer must then bring the moisture content down to 13% or less to minimize the impacts of insects, fungi, and bacteria.  Temperature also influences the development of these organisms, with most insect reproduction and fungal growth halted below 50°F.  Good targets for grain temperatures range from 40°F in the winter to 60°F in the summer.  Aeration should begin when the average of the daily high and low temperatures is 10 to 15 degrees lower than the grain temperature.  Final grain temperatures should be checked by sampling one foot into the upper surface of the grain.  For aeration fans designed for typical cooling rates of 1/10 cfm/bu., this final cooling cycle may be up to 200 hours. 

Monitoring of grain bins is essential to ensure that proper moisture and temperature is maintained.  Grain bins are dynamic systems, and both can change throughout the storage period. Grain temperatures can be as high as 100°F, even in the winter.  A grain bin should be monitored once a month during the winter and twice a month during warmer periods to measure grain temperature, moisture content, and insect and fungus activity. One should have on hand a grain temperature probe, a moisture probe and a  partitioned grain tierer for checking for mold and insects. The tierer consists of a compartmentalized hollow brass tube which is approximately five feet in length. The tierer is inserted to the desired depth through the use of extension rods. The compartments are opened, filled with grain, and closed by twisting the rod handle.

After the grain is binned and leveled, a surface dressing can be applied to prevent insects from entering the grain surface.  DDVP resin strips should also be hung in the head space to control Indian meal moth.  Hot spots in the grain mass may indicate that insect populations are developing.  If these are found, aeration should be initiated at once to lower the grain temperature and moisture content.  Do not aerate on warm and/or moist days, as it can increase the two.  If an infestation occurs despite these precautions, fumigation of the grain will be necessary.  Due to the high toxicity and restricted classification of registered fumigants, a special applicator certification is needed for their proper and legal use.  After grain is removed from the bin and it is properly cleaned, a residual spray can be applied to the bin walls and floor to prepare for next year’s crop.  This practice is especially important if the grain will be stored for 9 months or more.

To Consider Running For Local Office

For all those people who have ever thought about serving on their school board, borough council or township board — here’s your chance to learn how to do it. Penn State Extension is offering a workshop called, “Toss Your Hat in the Ring.”

The workshop will provide an overview of Pennsylvania local government and explain the responsibilities of a township supervisor, a borough council member and a school director. Participants will learn how to file a petition, report campaign expenses and other important information, and a panel of local officials will talk about why they decided to run for office and some of their experiences since they were elected.

The workshop won’t offer campaign tips or strategies, according to Penn State Extension Educator Peter Wulfhorst. Rather, the focus is on understanding the roles, responsibilities and personal rewards that come with public service.

The workshop will be offered as a web-based seminar on February 12 as well as at various locations throughout the state. All face-to-face workshops will run from 7 to 9 p.m. at twenty locations during January and February. The fee is $25 per person.

Details and registration information are available at:  

or by contacting Wulfhorst at or 570-296-3400.

To Celebrate The New Year

The start of a New Year is a good time to evaluate your goals in business and family life. Do your business goals support your family life or do you need to adjust to better prioritize family objectives? This is a good time to have a family conversation about this question.

On New Years day show your support for agriculture by enjoying a hearty meal of pork, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes! Then sit down to enjoy the Penn State Football team facing off against Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl. Pork, Sauerkraut and Penn State Football, a great way to celebrate the New Year!

Quote Of The Week: “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties but through every human heart.” Aleksandr Solzhenlitsyn