El Niño is back in action. As a result, much of the country has experienced warmer-than-normal temperatures as we head into the early winter months (with the exception of this week!), and periods of up-and-down temperature fluctuation. With this, there are both advantages and challenges that may need to be considered when it comes to how you manage your grain. We at IntelliFarms want to remind of some of the general science and practices that can be used to manage during days and times of fluctuation.
However, it is important to remember that every scenario is different. Geographies and climates, the type of grain stored, bin dimensions and fan cfm all can be different from one bin to the next. And you may have different goals and strategies than the farm down the road from you. We always encourage our customers to consult with an IntelliFarms representative to determine their best course of action to manage grain to their goals.
- Take advantage of the naturally warm and dry air. Many across the country have been fortunate this fall with higher temperatures and drier air, the ideal conditions for drying grain. This is a far cry from the cold wet winter of 2009, for example, which also was impacted by late harvest.
- Monitor the outside air conditions and take advantage of productive, dry air during the warm days to expedite the drying process. However, be conscious that too much dry air can easily over-dry the bottom layer of the grain.
- It may make sense to utilize a heater. Though this fall has offered more naturally-productive air for drying, those with a heater have the ability to use the heat to extract moisture from what might be unproductive (too humid) air otherwise. This can result in faster drying times. Again, you should be conscious not to utilize the heat to the point at which it detrimentally over-dries the grain. A Grain Specialist can help advise on heater usage for your bin.
- Be conscious of the major daily temperature fluctuations. It's typical during the fall and early winter to have cooler, moist mornings with temperatures in the 30's that raise to sometimes the 50's, 60's and even 70's during the afternoon. There are parts of the country experiencing that even at this point in the year. The disadvantage of running the fans continually during this type of day is the risk of over-drying and rewetting the grain with the fluctuations in temperature and dewpoint. A controlled and automated grain management system constantly measures and assesses these conditions and only pushes air into the bin during the periods of the day when the air is at its "sweet spot" - not too moist and not too dry. As a result, you may notice your automated system may run the fans for a few hours in the morning and again in the late afternoon. This avoids the cost of over-drying and rewetting that would take place if fans were running all day. Another important thing to note is that automated systems also can help manage grain if you just need to cool it. Some of you may have your grain come in at optimal moisture, but need to cool it in order to increase its shelf life. Warm and dry air may not be the optimal fix, but an automated system can help you run through cool air at certain times of day to cool your grain down to target and maintain moisture content.
These principles are intended to be general reminders. As stated above, each storage scenario is unique. Therefore it is important to be thoughtful and strategic in your storage management practices. IntelliFarms' representatives are always on-call to assist with questions as well and discuss capabilities of our grain management systems, including BinManager. Contact us at any time.