Grain harvest is fast approaching and it is time to prepare storage facilities and harvest equipment for the coming corn and soybeans.
Grain quality will never be any better than when it first comes out of the field, it can only deteriorate over time if it is allowed to do so.
Curtis Young, Allen County Extension, offers several measures one can take prior loading grain into storage structures to reduce the chances of the deterioration of stored grain quality.
These measures include: facility inspection and repair, sanitation and empty-bin insecticide treatments.
Inspection. The condition of the grain facility can be as important as the potential of insects infesting the stored grain. Facilities should be inspected closely for sign of deterioration, especially for leaks and holes through which insects, birds or rodents can gain easy access to the stored grain.
While inspecting for physical problems, one should also test aeration fans and dryers for functionality. Seal all leaks and make repairs to the equipment before you need them to manage the grain.
Sanitation can prove to be a very valuable tool in reducing the potential of new grain coming into contact with grain that may be infested with grain damaging and contaminating insects.
Grain that accumulated or got stuck in equipment and stayed there throughout the summer months had a great potential of becoming infested with several species of insects.
Clean. Pieces of equipment that need to be cleaned thoroughly before they are used again include the combine, truck beds, grain wagons, augers, bucket lifts and grain dumps.
Other sources of grain infesting insects include livestock feeds, old seed bags, spilled grain, old contaminated grain that was not disposed of properly and other cereal products.
And the number one rule in grain storage is, never load new grain into a bin on top of old grain.
Another area of sanitation that is frequently overlooked is the clearing of all vegetation growing around the bases of storage bins.
This vegetation can harbor grain infesting insects and provide concealment for rodents. It is advisable to clear all vegetation within 10 feet of the bases of the bins.
It would be even more preferable to have the whole storage area cleared of vegetation and be covered with gravel. Follow up the vegetation removal with a residual herbicide application to the cleared area to prevent regrowth.
And last, but not least, the interiors of the storage bins should be thoroughly cleaned. Walls, ceilings, ledges, rafters, braces, ladder wrongs and handling equipment should be swept, brushed or vacuumed clean of all debris, dust and grain. Fans, aeration ducts, exhausts and when possible, beneath slotted floors should be cleared of debris as well.
Dispose of all debris in a lawful manner and away from the storage facility.
Empty bin. Once all cleaning has been completed, an empty-bin application of an appropriately labeled insecticide is advisable, especially in bins with difficult to clean areas and/or in bins with a history of insect problems.
For empty-bin insecticide treatments that are applied as a liquid, allow a minimum of 24 hours for the sprays to dry before loading grain into the bin.
Insecticides. Registered empty-bin insecticides include: Diacon II (methoprene, an insect growth regulator that only impacts immature insects), Tempo (cyfluthrin), Storcide II (chlorpyrifos methyl plus deltamethrin), Insecto, Protect-It, Perma-Guard and others (diatomaceous earth and/or silicon dioxide).
Refer to the individual product labels for lists of insects controlled and application directions.
Fumigation. If a bin is known to be heavily infested with insects, an empty-bin fumigation may be required to knock down insect populations before applying one of the above insecticides.
The most readily available product for this purpose is phosphine gas producing materials such as aluminum phosphide and magnesium phosphide.
Toxic. Phosphine is an extremely toxic material and fumigations should be conducted by trained, experienced, licensed applicators.
Spray. Finally, one last measure one might take to reduce the chance of insect infestation is to apply a perimeter spray around the base and up the outside walls of the bin about 15 feet.
This may only be necessary in areas where grain infesting insect movement has been observed on the outsides of the storage bins. There are several synthetic pyrethroids (cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, permethrin, resmethrin, etc.) that can be used for this purpose as long as they do not come in contact with the grain.
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