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Pull out center grain for improved storage

With harvest winding down, your job of managing grain is just beginning. Job No. 1 should be to core each bin. Coring refers to pulling out one or more loads from the center of the bin.

“There are two main benefits from coring,” says Richard Stroshine, a grain quality specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. One is obvious: getting fines out of the middle. The second is just as important: leveling off the bin to remove the peak in the middle.

You can reduce fines in grain by using a grain cleaner, preferably before it heads into the dryer. Whether you do that or not, broken pieces and other material referred to as fines are likely to accumulate in the center of the bin as grain feeds in from above. Fines and even “beeswings” in the center make it harder for air to move through.

Key Points

Core your grain bins to remove fines and improve storage.

Removing the center of the grain mass also levels the top.

Continue running fans as outside temperature drops.


“You’re going to need to cool down the grain as the temperature drops outside, so it’s important to move those cooling fronts up through the grain. If the center core has more air resistance, the front won’t move up evenly,” Stroshine explains.

Remove peak

People often let grain peak when they’re filling a bin. However, the peak can become a trouble spot. “The cooling or drying front won’t reach the surface at the same time,” Stroshine says. “You need to level off the top of the grain mass by coring.”

Here are five tips Stroshine offers besides coring:

Know fan size. If your fan handles 1 cubic foot per minute, or cfm, per bushel, typical for an aeration bin, you’re going to move fronts quickly — likely in a day or less. But if you have the 0.1- or 0.25-cfm-per-bushel fans often found in storage bins, it will take six or three days, respectively.

Know temperature. Stick a thermometer into the top of the grain mass at 9 to 12 inches. Some bins also have temperature cables. Watch those carefully. The surface may be cool because of contact with cool air from outside, but when the cooling front goes through, temperature beneath the surface will drop.

Check bins. Carefully check for problems in bins every other week. If there are signs of trouble, check more often.

Put safety first. Never enter a bin with the unloading auger running.

Manage temperature accordingly. Some specialists in colder areas recommend freezing grain. Stroshine prefers not freezing it.

Bye-bye beeswings!

A suction apparatus placed over an opening to the grain leg pulls “beeswings” out of the system. They wind up in a container outside.

Beeswings add to fines in the center of the bin, says Richard Stroshine.

“They’re also just a nuisance,” notes Jennifer Campbell, Franklin, Ind. “With this system, they’re not flying all around the grain center. It’s one irritation we don’t worry about.”

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Less dust:
You won’t be wiping those irritating red “beeswings” off your face with a system that removes them.

Electronic readout saves steps

Mounted on a pole just west of the scales house on Chris Campbell’s farm in Franklin, Ind., is a digital readout that displays weight. It’s become a huge step-saver.

“We have to weigh the front half, then the back half. Having weights displayed saves me a lot of getting in and out of the truck,” Chris notes. They also weigh the empty truck after every load.

The only problem with the digital readout is that it’s sensitive to lightning, Chris says. But it’s certainly a convenience.


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Big and bright:
This readout is easy to see from the cab.

Simple board with lights tracks grain flow

If you want to know where grain is going at any one time on the Campbell farm in Franklin, Ind., just look at the plywood flow board that Larry Campbell rigged up.

If grain is switched from one bin to another midload, the board switches. Christmas lights indicate which bins are active. Larry also put sensors that are connected to lights halfway up holding bins to track the fill level.


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Early Christmas?:
No, it’s harvest. Larry Campbell discovered that these Christmas bulbs work well to track grain through the grain center.

Weigh every load of grain

When a semiload of grain pulls out of the field, it goes across the scales at the on-farm grain center. That’s standard procedure for Chris Campbell. He farms with his parents, Larry and Judy, and wife, Jennifer, near Franklin, Ind.

“We want to know what comes in, and we want to check moisture,” Chris says. “Moisture content helps determine whether we put it through the dryer, or send it directly into a bin at 17% and use aeration.”

The grain center holds 140,000 bushels. Typically, Chris is off by only about half a percent in incoming weights vs. outgoing weights. He’s a firm believer in knowing what comes into the grain center, and where it comes from, to keep better records.


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Scale time:
Every load is weighed on the Campbells’ farm.

12113459.tifStorage challenge: Harvest may be over, but now comes the real challenge — keeping grain in good condition.

This article published in the December, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.