NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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April 5, 2010 Ag Column


So we had a little rain over the past several days; was it bad or could it be good, for area producers?  There are many differing of opinions about the subject.  We certainly did not need any additional water but a nice general rain does even out the soil drying.  It also helps rid any remaining snow that is left.  The one certain thing we do know is depending on the weather we could be in the field in two weeks or a month.  All it takes is for the temperature to warm up and a little breeze and things do dry very quickly.  Moisture amounts, around the area, included 1.11 inches west of Devils Lake and 1.33 near Starkweather.

There is still a lot of questions coming in about grain drying, using natural air.  The most common question has been; why would grain dry better in the spring than in the fall, using the same common denominator of 55 degrees.  Two things come into play, using this scenario.  The first being relative humidity.  The humidity is generally significantly lower in the fall.  This happens to the longer day light period.  In the fall we receive 3-5 hours of 55 degrees while in the spring we could see 6-9 hours of the same temperature thus creating a longer span of less humidity and drying air.  If we were to pick a normal time of year to turn on the fans we would generally pick May but because we have had a very nice March, April will do just fine.  Remember, if you put grain into the bin last fall that was not dry, like nearly all of us did, we do need to get that drying process started.  Due to the variable weather temperatures, during the winter season, allowable storage time has dwindled creating a danger zone in the grain bin.  Another question that arises is the grain temperature seems fine but we can imagine our grain being cooled very nicely last fall, like you all did, and then not monitoring the grain over the winter season, things could be happening.  The perimeter of the bin acts like a thermal collecting cold air and staying cool for a period of time and as soon as the sun beats on the side wall that tin warms up significantly.  This creates a problem with any grain immediately exposed to the bin wall.  We had two periods like that last winter, where we had really cold days followed by very warm temperatures.  I guess what I am trying to say is; be vigilant and check your bins and it might be a great time to get those fans running.

This little note is for everyone that lives in a farming community.  Remember farm spring work will soon be upon us and with that comes many different pieces of farm equipment moving down our rural roads. PLEASE, approach with extreme caution.  Equipment has gotten much larger and covers a large viewing area around the highway.  Yourself, the farmer and oncoming traffic are all at risk, due to high speeds and being upset that a piece of equipment is in your way.  People, in general, think that 1 minute is the difference of getting there or not then maybe we need to leave 5 minutes earlier and do the safe thing, follow with caution. 



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