Storage Under Pressure: Squeezing This Year’s Crop for Max Value
With unprecedented bushels per acre numbers projected a month ago, the U.S. was looking like it was headed for the largest corn harvest in history. Though recently those yield projections retreated a bit, overall numbers look like we’ll see another bumper crop of corn this year.
As is the case when corn acreage and yields are high, two factors come in to play: downward pressure on prices and less-than-ideal storage solutions, including bags, open bins, and ground piles.
In order to squeeze out the maximum value of this year’s harvest, grain handlers need to mitigate post-harvest losses due to damage, infestation, and especially mycotoxin contamination, by properly storing and monitoring corn.
Storage practices need to be adequate to protect the value of what’s being stored, distilled down to 4 factors:
1. Moisture: Mold needs moisture to grow so when you reduce your moisture content you improve your chances of winning the fight against mycotoxin producing molds. It is recommended to reduce the amount of moisture as early as possible and to keep the percent moisture at 14% or less.
2. Temperature: Keep cool and even temperatures by using proper aeration. Why? Keeping the temperature cool will make the environment less favorable for insects. Keeping the temperature even will reduce the chance of condensation that can occur from drastic temperature changes.
3. Insects: Control insects or mitigate insects. Insects can damage grain with digging, chewing and leaving waste, leaving it more susceptible to mycotoxin contamination. They can also bring in additional moisture.
4. Damage: Remember the old adage “quality in quality out”? Damaged grain is more susceptible to mycotoxin contamination. Separate or sell damaged grain to limit its incorporation into high-quality stored grains.
Monitoring incoming and stored commodities is critical to protecting value.
Remember that weather conditions are not a guarantee of either presence or absence of mycotoxins, and reliance upon rumors either way is foolhardy at best and costly at its worst. Begin with testing incoming grain to set a baseline understanding of the grain quality in your area, then continue to monitor stored grains, whether in bins, piles, or bags. Cool weather is no guarantee to keep molds and mycotoxins at bay, as temperatures and moisture levels especially in the center of a ground pile can climb without proper aeration.
It is generally recommended to inspect stored corn weekly during fall and spring, and once or twice a month during winter, so any potential for loss can be addressed immediately.
By regularly testing your grain, you can assure that your storage practices are working effectively, and you’ll achieve the maximum value when it’s time to sell.
A list of EnviroLogix’ most popular mycotoxin test kits for use with the EnviroLogix QuickScan II quantitative GMO and mycotoxin detection instrument appears below:
- QuickTox for QuickScan DON Flex
- QuickTox for QuickScan Aflatoxin Flex
- QuickTox for QuickScan Fumonisin Flex 311
Contact us if you have questions or concerns about how mycotoxin contamination might be present in the grain in your supply chain. We can be reached at (866) 408-4597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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