Six strategies for storing mold-afflicted grain

Worried about corn infected with mold or stalk quality issues? You're not alone. Anecdotal evidence is popping up across the Internet, and according to

a recent Farm Journal Pulse poll, farmers said corn diseases were a bigger factor in limiting yield than weeds or insects.

Recent AgWeb articles have explored how to




with some of these issues in the field. But what to do now, with harvest rolling and grain put into storage? Is it too late to make a difference?

Maybe not, according to Gary Woodruff, GSI conditioning applications manager. Woodruff has pinpointed several strategies that can help minimize the damage molds and other grain diseases can do to stored grain.

"Through these management steps, farmers will be better able to protect grain quality, reduce discounts and maximize their profit potential," he says.

In particular, Woodruff recommends:

1. Maintain the bins' inside temperature in the 30s or below to reduce the chance of corn "going out of condition." Even temperatures below 50 degrees can reduce mold and insect activity, Woodruff says.

2. Dry mold-affected corn down one point lower than corn with normal moisture content - ideally at or below 14%, Woodruff says. That reduces water and prevents additional mold growth.

3. Monitor mold-affected corn on a weekly basis. Pay attention to bad smells, crusting or any increases in moisture content below the surface. And before the grain is even stored, pay attention to discoloration and low test weight, which are good indicators the grain will have a limited shelf life.

4. Leaving the grain "cold until sold" is better than increasing aeriation, Woodruff says. "Aeration is only for changing the temperature of the grain. High aeration airflow will not extend storage life, and as static pressure rises above four inches, it may create issues resulting from air temperature rise from the heat of pressurization."

5. Consult area recommendations from ag university and Extension services. Local recommendations have been tailored to local climate and conditions, Woodruff says.

6. Again, take "cold until sold" to heart - don't wait until the spring warm-up to market mold-affected corn, Woodruff says. "Mold-affected corn has a shorter storage life, even with careful management, and should be used early and first, leaving higher quality corn for longer storage."