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NDSU Offers Tips on Stored Grain Affected by Flooding

Time is of the essence in salvaging wet feed and grain.

Grain bin electric wiring, controls and fans exposed to water need to be evaluated and possibly reconditioned or replaced, says Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University Extension Service agricultural engineer and flooding expert.

“Do not energize wet components,” Hellevang says. “Be sure the power is off before touching any electrical components of flooded systems.”

Grains swell when wet, so bin damage is likely. Bolts can shear or holes elongate. Look for signs such as stretched caulking seals, misaligned doors or similar structural problems. A damaged bin is prone to failure.

“Time is of the essence in salvaging wet feed and grain,” Hellevang says. “Both will begin to heat and mold very quickly, leading to spoilage as well as the possibility of spontaneous combustion. Unloading from the center sump may not be possible because wet grain likely will not flow. One option is unloading the grain from the top using a pneumatic conveyor or any other means.”

Get the wet grain to a dryer quickly, if possible. This is the surest way to save wet grain. If the grain depth is only a couple of feet, a natural-air bin drying system with a perforated floor and a high-capacity drying fan should be able to dry the grain. Verify that the air is coming through the grain. Supplemental heat can be used to speed drying, but do not raise the air temperature more than 10 or 15 degrees.

If a dryer is not available, spread the grain to dry in a layer no deeper than 6 inches. Stir it daily to prevent overheating and to speed drying. Watch for and remove molded grains.

Do not feed heated, molded or sour feeds to livestock. Wet feeds should be presumed harmful to animals until tested. They may contain contaminants from floodwaters as well toxins produced by fungi.

“Moldy grain creates a human respiratory hazard,” Hellevang says. “Breathing mold spores can cause severe allergic reactions or other health concerns. Wear a mask or respirator approved to remove mold spores. The mask should have an N95 rating or better. These masks will have two straps.”

Additional information is available on the NDSU Extension Service grain drying and storage Web site at http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/abeng/postharvest.htm.

There is additional information on flood recovery on the NDSU Extension Service flood information Web site at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/disaster/flood.html.


NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Ken Hellevang, (701) 231-7243, kenneth.hellevang@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
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