Telltale Signs of Grain Storage Problems

Telltale Signs of Grain Storage Problems

One of the greatest fears for grain farmers is their stored grain becoming ridden with bacteria and spoiling. Mold in grain bins can cost farmers significant profits, so we’ve put together a helpful list of telltale signs of grain storage problems that farmers should watch out for below.

Pungent Odors
One of the most common symptoms of spoiled grain in storage is the presence of strange and musty odors emanating from the bin. If there’s a rotten odor from the grain storage, that’s a sign of excess heat and moisture problems.
Strange odors mean that the grain is either too hot or too moist, and the drying system isn’t working as intended, which is why aeration is so important in grain storage. Typically, grain spoilage occurs when the kernels break down and decompose; this causes the grain to stick together and prevents the proper airflow throughout the bin, creating a hive of bacteria.

Hard Top Layer
Another telltale sign of grain storage problems is that the top layer of the grain coalesces into a hard crust above the soft grain. This crusty top of grain comes from the migration of moisture toward the top of the bin—or from condensation dripping down from any roof leaks.
Farmers need to immediately run their aeration and drying system to break up this crusty layer. They will likely have to remove some of the compacted grain to prevent it from blocking the airflow throughout the bin. It may seem like a waste to get rid of all that grain, but if left unchecked, it could spoil the whole bin.

Pro Tip: If you find a layer of crust on top of the grain, check the bin roof to ensure no condensation is dripping down; no matter how good the drying system is, it won’t do much if the roof is constantly dripping moisture onto the grain.

Bridged-Up Grain
Another fear that many grain farmers have is bridged-up grain. Bridged-up grain is when moist grain clogs up and forms together to create a bridge or wall.
Bridged-up grain is one of the leading causes of accidents, injuries, and even deaths in grain bins, as it can collapse and trap workers in grain bins, causing suffocation. If you think this is happening to your grain, wear proper safety harnesses and take precautions to try and break it up with a pole or another blunt object.

While storing grain may seem straightforward, there are many ways it can go wrong and ruin the entire bin and thousands of bushels. Keep an eye out for these signs to ensure your grain is dry and properly preserved.


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