Five tips for preparing for harvest 2021

More calls are coming in about grain going out of condition and issues with insects.

Kris Kohl MUG.jpg
Kris Kohl

STORM LAKE, Iowa — School is about to start, and the crops are on their way to maturity. While it might be a repeat of 2020, I have received a lot more calls this year with grain going out of condition and issues with insects.

The 2020 crop came out of the field dry, early and in good shape, but care was not taken to get it cooled down and inspected, like it should have been.

Here are five tips we should do now to make this harvest a safe, smooth one.

Clean up all the bins. Sweep the walls and vacuum out any grain. Insects like to live in these areas and will move into the new harvested grain when it comes in. Treat the side walls with Malathion, so that any bugs will die if they were eggs that you were unable to brush down and vacuum out. Check under the floor to be sure there is at least 6 inches of space in the plenum to allow the air to move without restriction. I have seen several that were filled with Indian meal moth webbing or cocoons that plugged the floor. If the space is too small, pull up a section of the floor and use a shop vacuum to remove the fines. This is a big dirty job. Try to plan so you are not doing all of them at once.

Check and maintain the concrete and seal between bin walls and concrete. Any air gaps should be sealed to prevent short circuiting. Use a good caulk squeezed under the ceiling lip and in small cracks in the foundation. Cracks that have widened to over 1⁄2 inch are indications of larger foundation problems that need to be addressed. Make sure all the bolts are holding the bin to the foundation and sheets together.


Check the electrical system. Turn on the fans, spreaders and unload augers to make sure the electrical system is working properly. Mice destroy the insulation on wires and are often found around bins. Using constant bait traps and cleaning all vegetation and spilled grain to prevent habitat for these destructive rodents is essential to maintain the life of the grain system. Birds also like to build nests in spreaders and now is a good time to remove them. Lubricate any bearings that need it and make sure everything is ready, so that you are ready when it is time for harvest.

Start to check the fields for maturity. From silking to maturity (black layer) is about 60 days, longer if conditions are favorable and shorter when stressed. We are probably under the stressed conditions this year. Most of the corn in northwest Iowa will be mature about Sept. 10, if things go OK from here on out, earlier if it does not rain. At maturity, the corn moisture is 30%. Field dry down is about 4 points per week in September and 2 to 3 points per week in October. With that in mind, we will have nearly 15% corn by the second week in October.

Plan to cool the grain. A common statement is that more grain spoils because of poor temperature control than high moisture. This was true in 2020 grain. The dry corn and soybeans came out of the field warm and many did not run the fan for a couple of weeks. That is a big mistake. Early harvested corn can have a moisture difference of 4 to 5 points on the same ear, with the tip dryer and the butt end wetter. Running the fans overnight helps to keep it cool and evens out the differences in the bin. Nights below 50 degrees Fahrenheit are good, and 40 degrees are even better. Watch this early harvested grain, because it can have bugs in it that would be killed if it had frozen in the field.

Have a safe and successful harvest this year.

What To Read Next
Newspaper industry peers from the Kansas Press Association judged the 3,453 contest entries submitted from 132 Minnesota newspapers.
Louis and Cyril Keller are the inventors of the Bobcat skid-steer loader and were selected as 2023 inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Awards were announced during Friday’s annual FORWARD Worthington Extravaganza at Lerma’s Event Center.
“They’re totally new. They’re sophomores, they’ve never competed in BPA.”