Grain, after it is harvested, is typically put into storage for anywhere from a few months to more than a year. To protect the grain from pests and moisture, growers must make sure they prepare grain storage bins properly. Prior to filling the bins, they 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 farmers add any new grain, they should 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 as they could harbor insect pests.
After a thorough cleaning, consider whether an insecticide is needed; it should be sprayed inside the bin around two weeks before binning occurs. Growers should pay special attention to the areas where insects could congregate, such as false floors, cracks and vents. Products such as Storcide II, Malathion 5EC and Tempo SC Ultra should be considered, but follow all label instructions for proper use of these products.
As the grain is loaded into the bin, a "protectant" insecticide might be needed, especially if the grain will be stored for longer than six months. If the grain is going to be dried inside the bin, do not apply the protectant until after drying. The grain will need to be removed after it is dried, then re-loaded with the protectant.
Another option, if a protectant is not used, is the application of a surface dressing—or "cap out"—insecticide to prevent insects from penetrating the top of the grain. Note that this will not help, however, if there are insects already present within the grain mass.
While insects can be a big problem for stored grain, moisture causes the majority of grain spoilage issues. High temperatures and humid weather can accelerate spoilage if growers are not careful. Wheat preparation involves drying the wheat using different methods to avoid spoilage problems from "wet" wheat.
Experts recommend that growers dry down grain to a certain moisture content when stored. This recommendation varies depending on where you live. Consult your 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 in addition to reducing potential spoilage during the hot summer months. In addition to wheat drying, clean grain before storage as well to remove smaller broken wheat particles that could potentially feed insect pests.
For more information on the best ways to prepare grain bins for storage, please consult your Southern States Agronomy Professional or local Extension office.