What To Know About the Effects of Moisture in Grain Storage

What To Know About the Effects of Moisture in Grain Storage

Published by The Grain Handling Direct Team on Dec 16th 2022

Planting, maintaining, and harvesting grain is only half the battle—farmers also have to store the grain for long periods without it spoiling or rotting from moisture. Below, we’ll explain what there is to know about moisture’s devastating effects on grain storage, from spreading mold to attracting insects.

Breeds Mold & Bacteria

The threat of mold and bacteria in grain storage keeps many farmers up at night, as it can quickly destroy thousands of bushels and ruin months of hard work growing, caring for, and harvesting grain. When grain is stored in bulk and not adequately maintained, it can generate heat and natural respiration, which is why cooling and drying equipment is vital to grain quality.

Without proper drying and cooling, the grain bin warms and provides excellent conditions for mold and bacteria to thrive and spread. You don’t need to be a farmer to know that mold in grain storage is a disaster and can make the entire grain bin inedible for human or even livestock consumption.

Attracts Insects

Another frightening prospect for grain farmers is insects and pests infiltrating their grain storage tanks and contaminating the bushels. Moisture in grain storage produces mold, and that spoilage and decay can also invite insects attracted by the rampant odors and bacteria.

Once insects take hold within a grain bin, the entire tank can become contaminated, as the bugs will eat away at the spoiled grain and spread even more bacteria. This is why it’s vital to cool grain bins to a low temperature that’s inhospitable to insects and keeps them away.

Pro tip: If you find an infestation in a grain bin, the only way to ensure it’s completely sterile and clean for the next batch of grain bushels is to fumigate the bin.

Causes Odors

Another effect of moisture in grain storage that farmers must know about is that it can develop a unique and funky odor. The musty odors emanating from grain bins are typically from rotting wet grain, mold growth, or insect infestation.

Experienced grain farmers who have been through many harvests and stored grain for years can instantly recognize the smell of rotted grain and mold in their bins at even the earliest stages. A grain bin should be aerated, cooled, and have a fresher and dry smell—it should not smell musty or rotten.

Where Does Grain Storage Moisture Come From?

The grain in a bin is dry, so where does this moisture come from that destroys grain quality? Moisture typically develops in grain storage due to a temperature imbalance from the grain within and a lack of airflow.

Ideally, dry grain should be stored in a cool and airy environment that’s between 10 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the outside air, especially in the warmer months. The low temperature and consistent airflow prevent condensation from forming on the grain bin walls and within the grain itself, as convection currents can concentrate moisture in the center and top of the bin.

If you’d like to learn more about dry grain storage methods and grain storage equipment, contact our helpful and knowledgeable staff at Grain Handling Direct.