Appropriate grain storage important to maintain quality

Corn_Pile_blogProper grain storage is crucial for preventing mold growth during the winter, which can decrease grain quality and potentially lead to the production of mycotoxins.

Storage problems could be compounded by a corn crop of inconsistent quality, caused in part by a wet, cool spring in some areas followed by high temperatures, according to Charles Hurburgh, an Iowa State University grain expert and professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering.

“Farmers need to be prepared to manage wide variability in grain properties this fall,” Hurburgh said in a statement. “You can’t cut corners on good grain management practices or it’ll come back to bite you.”

Ensuring grain is dried properly before it goes into the storage bin for winter is crucial as it can help prevent mold growth. Grain stored at 14 percent or less moisture will help minimize mold growth and subsequent toxin production. Grain also should be dried as soon as possible after harvest to get the best results, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations notes. Molds tend to thrive in damp, humid conditions and drying helps make the environment less hospitable to opportunistic fungi.

Adequate aeration also is extremely important for maintaining proper grain temperature in storage as good ventilation helps prevent high humidity, which contributes to mold growth. Storage containers should be checked for leaks and to ensure seals are tight. This prevents excess water from entering the container, which also can contribute to ideal conditions for mold proliferation.

Once grain is stored, it should still be regularly tested for the presence of mycotoxins that are produced by molds. Obtaining a representative sample is important to ensuring accurate test results and increase the likelihood of detecting toxin “hotspots” (read more on proper sampling procedures in this previous post).

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