Tri-States Grain Conditioning General Manager, Dan Winkowitsch, answers the often asked question, “Why monitor grain temperature?”
Let’s talk about why you should monitor your grain temperature. Each year grain goes out of condition due to temperature more than any other reason. That’s insane when stored grain temperature is totally within the control of the farmer or grain manager.
Why would any grain owner neglect to protect their greatest asset – their grain? They wouldn’t, of course, unless they didn’t know they could do better.
It’s important to understand that the quality of stored grain never improves, because the crop has reached maturity. What you can control are factors that cause deterioration like fungus, mold, or insects. By knowing the temperature of the grain and monitoring that, you can keep the quality of the grain high. That way you can get your optimum price when you’re ready to sell.
Stored Grain Is a Living Mass
Let’s specifically talk about grain temperature monitoring as it relates to stored corn, since that’s a crop many of our neighbors in the Midwest and across the U.S. are producing. Temperature is key when we’re storing grain, whether it’s in a steel, concrete, or flat storage structure.
Temperature for grain, in many ways, is the same as it is for us as human beings. When you go to the doctor, the first thing they check is your temperature. The doctor is trying to determine if you’re in good shape, or not. If you have a temperature, the next question is – where is the problem?
Likewise, grain is a living mass. It’s alive, and as it’s in your storage bin, it breathes. And if it has a temperature, then it’s sick. Left untreated, it’s going to present problems that will impact your pocketbook.
Temperature Increases or Decreases Storage Time
For example, corn with 16% moisture content stored at 80 degrees, can be stored without damage for approximately 47 days. However, if we can bring the air temperature down in that grain mass to 50 degrees, it changes everything. Now, that same corn at 16% moisture can be stored for 480 days.
Think about it. Store grain without worry for 47 days, or 480 days. That’s a big difference in market flexibility.
If your corn has a higher moisture content, if it’s let’s say 20% moisture content, of course that’s affected too. Storing high moisture corn at 80 degrees gives you nine days of storage time before that grain mass begins to develop problems. However, if you get that corn down to 50 degrees, you can store it up to 60 days.
Now, that’s just using temperature to increase storage time.
Insects and Molds Thrive or Go Dormant at Certain Temperatures
Insect activity is also affected. Right at 55 degrees and up, insects can multiply in grain mass. From 55 degrees and lower, insects become dormant and don’t reproduce. You already know that high quality grain that is free of insects, dockage, and chemicals gets the best price at market. So it makes sense to control insects with temperature.
Any time spoilage occurs it gives off heat, so it changes the temperature of the grain around it. Insects carrying fungal spores introduce storage fungi in the grain mass creating hot spots that are favorable for mold growth. Molds are affected by temperature too, and from 40 degrees and colder they slow tremendously in their reproduction.
Why Monitor Grain Temperature? Now You Know
So the big question is, if temperature is the key to grain health – and it is – how would you know if your grain is healthy or not, if you’re not taking its temperature? And if you are going to take its temperature, how are you going to do that without a thermometer?
Grain temperature monitoring cables inside that grain mass are the only way to know what’s going on in there. They’re the only reliable way to detect heat in your grain mass and track the health of your stored grain.
So now you know why temperature is important, and how to use temperature to manage your stored grain. Also, if you know the temperature of your grain mass, you know how long you can store your grain.
But, if you don’t monitor your grain with temperature cables, you will never know what’s happening inside your grain mass until it’s too late.
Now that you know the answer to the big question, why monitor grain temperature, it’s time to act. All you need to do is pick up the phone and talk to one of our representatives. We’ll help you protect your valuable grain asset from going out of condition.
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