Grain in a bin is like money in the bank, it needs to be managed to be useful. During the spring, it is important to consider warming the grain with the aeration fan if the grain will be stored into July and August, or if the grain was frozen during the winter.
Spring warm-up with aeration fans prevents moisture migration with resulting high-moisture pockets that may spoil. Proper warming thaws any frozen grain that may interfere with aeration or handling.
Start the fan when the average outdoor temperature is 10 to 15 degrees above the grain temperature. Run the fan continuously for a complete warming cycle; in other words, until the warming front has moved completely through the grain and the average grain temperature has been raised 10 to 15 degrees. How long you run the fan depends on the size of the fan and the amount of grain to be aerated.
Stopping the aeration process midway through the job creates a layer in the bin where the temperature varies. This almost guarantees a deposit of condensed moisture that will encourage spoilage. It is very important to run the fan continuously until the bin is nearly uniform in temperature. These warming cycles should be repeated through the spring as needed to bring the average grain temperature up to 50 to 60 F.
During the summer, you want to avoid raising the temperature too high. Aerate as needed if heating occurs, but stop spring warm-up at about 50 to 60 F.
It is a good idea to do weekly grain inspections. Weekly inspections are an easy thing to put off when things get busy. Try to work the inspections into part of your weekly routine. For instance, every Thursday before lunch check the bin for temperature, moisture build-ups and insect activity.
Jeff Burbrink is an Extension educator in agriculture and natural resources. Write to him at 17746 E. C.R. 34, Goshen, IN 46528; call 533-0554; or fax 533-0254.