The relatively warm weather of the past winter was a plus for homeowners paying heating bills. However, it was bad news for stored grain, according to an engineer with the University of Minnesota extension service.
"Grain molds grow faster at warm temperatures," says Bill Wilcke. "So do stored grain insects. Last winter's mild weather will no doubt lead to an increase in stored grain mold and insect problems this spring and summer."
Wilcke encourages farmers and elevator managers to check stored grain as soon as possible for signs of mold and insects. "During the grain inspection, measure grain temperature and moisture at several locations in the bin," he says. "If you find warm or wet grain, musty or sour odors or evidence of mold or insect problems, take action soon – well before summer weather arrives."
Depending on the kind and severity of grain storage problems you find, Wilcke suggests one or more of the following actions:
"If you are experiencing grain storage problems this year, try to determine how they could have been prevented," says Wilcke. "Then make plans to upgrade your drying and storage facilities or change management strategies to reduce future problems."
For more information on managing stored grain and on planning grain-handling facilities, check the U of M Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Web site. It's at www.bae.umn.edu/extens/postharvest