After grain is harvested, it is typically put into storage for anywhere from a few months to more than a year. To protect your grain from pests and moisture, you must make sure to prepare grain storage bins properly. Prior to filling the bins, you also must ensure that the grain is dry and ready for storage. Here's an overview of essential steps to protect your hard-earned wheat crop.
Before adding any new grain, completely clean bins and empty them of any old grain. Use shovels or industrial vacuums to make sure all traces are removed, especially around cracks, crevices and doors and under false floors. Inspect bins for any cracks or holes that need to be repaired before loading.
Be sure to check areas around the bin as well. Clean up any spilled grain and clear out weeds and grasses that could harbor insect pests.
After a thorough cleaning, consider whether an insecticide is needed. If so, spray it inside the bin about two weeks before binning occurs. Pay special attention to areas where insects could congregate, such as false floors, cracks and vents. Consider using products like Storcide™ II, Malathion 5EC and Tempo® SC Ultra, being sure to follow all label instructions for proper use of these products.
You may need to add a "protectant" insecticide as you load the grain into the bin, especially if the grain will be stored for longer than six months. If you plan to dry the grain inside the bin, do not apply the protectant until after drying. You will need to remove the grain from the bin after it is dried, then re-load the grain along with the protectant.
If you don't use a protectant, another option is to apply a surface dressing insecticide, or "cap out," to prevent insects from penetrating the top of the grain surface. Note that this will not help, however, if insects are already present within the grain mass.
While insects can be a big problem for stored grain, moisture causes most grain spoilage issues. High temperatures and humid weather can accelerate spoilage if you aren't careful. You can use various methods to dry the wheat to avoid spoilage problems.
Experts recommend that you dry down grain to a certain moisture content for storage. This recommendation varies depending on where you live. Consult your Southern States agronomist or local Extension resources for this information.
Insects preying on grain require a certain moisture content, so keeping the grain dry will deter them while reducing potential spoilage during the hot summer months. In addition to drying the wheat, you also can discourage insects by cleaning the grain before storage to remove smaller broken wheat particles that could potentially feed insect pests.
For more information on the best ways to prepare grain bins and grain for storage, please consult your nearest Southern States agronomy expert.