After extended rains and recent low temperatures, this year’s harvest is likely going to involve high-moisture grain that will require drying and careful storage. This moisture and mold that may result from this may lead to corn or soybeans crusting or clogging in the grain bin. It may be necessary to dry your grain this year. Additionally, you should be mindful of storing this year’s harvest and keep in mind how likely it is that the grain crusts; knowing this potential could keep you safe later. When you’re tempted to facilitate grain movement in your bin, bear in mind that breaking through a crust, intentionally or accidentally, might leave you engulfed by grain.
Storing wet grain can lead to molds and clogs. Corn should be dried to 13 to 14% for long-term storage. The wetter the corn, the shorter the time this grain can safely be stored and the more quickly it deteriorates. Corn at 13% moisture has a maximum allowable storage time of around 150 months. Corn at 18% can be safely stored for a maximum of 6 months. And for corn 28%, this time frame of safe storage drops to a mere 30 days. Keep these moisture levels in mind while you decide if you should use a grain dryer this year. The answer for many of us in the area will be yes.
When grain is clogged or crusted, you may be tempted to get in the bin to break up the grain. Within a minute of becoming entrapped, a person can become engulfed by grain and eventually suffocate. This happens because once you are trapped in the grain, every time you exhale to breathe, grain flows into the space created by your chest movement. The grain that continually fills up any empty space your exhale leaves, puts pressure on your chest and ultimately reduces the room you have to fill your lungs with air, making inhalation more and more difficult.
Take time to stay safe in grain bins. Whenever possible, use inspection holes and grain bin level markers rather than entering the bin. If you absolutely have to enter the bin, have a safety plan. Most importantly, always have someone outside to help monitor your safety. Additionally, you should wear a body harness, never enter a bin while the auger is running, and keep safety tools handy. I can’t stress enough that you should have at least one other person with you if you plan to enter the bin. Really, take the extra bit of time to make sure to tell someone you'll be entering and have a person outside to assist in case something goes awry.