Outstanding In Their Field

Outstanding in their field Stng Head-WEB

I read an article several years back that now haunts me. It gives me pause whenever I perform the most simple and basic tasks on my farm.

Also, have you ever washed your clothes and forgot about them for days lying wet in the washing machine. Now, you must read the entire article to see how these connect.

I had spent the last 3 days wondering what the heck I could write about after all these years that could possibly be interesting and/or informative. An idea came to me today when I turned on the aeration fan for one of my grain bins.

Humans and animals eat the grains we grow all year long, even though harvest usually lasts only a month or two. That means most of the grain grown must be stored year-round to make sure a steady supply is always available. Much of the corn in the Midwest is harvested at higher moistures and artificially dried to a lower level for safe long-term storage.

Many local farmers started to harvest corn in October this year when it had 25%-30% moisture. The grain elevators that export our grain and the many processors that buy our corn will discount the price paid significantly if the corn they buy from a farmer is 25% moisture. They need corn to be 15% moisture, or lower, to store or process the corn. If they buy wet corn, they will have to go thorough the time and expense of drying it.

Farmers who store corn on their farm to sell throughout the year also must dry it to a 15% moisture level or it may mold. If you have ever forgotten a wet load of jeans in your washing machine or clothes dryer for a week, I suspect they got sour and possibly moldy.
Imagine what would happen to an entire grain bin of wet corn that was left in storage for months. The grain would be worthless, and I might add, extremely dangerous and difficult to remove from the bin.

There is much literature that explains how long grain can be safely stored at different moistures and temperatures in grain bins. It is recommended to keep grain aerated and within 20 degrees of ambient air temperatures. Many of the bins on my farm have fans that will blow air from the bottom of the bin, through the grain, and exit out vents on the roof.

As the temperatures become more winter-like, I run the fans to cool the grain, so the grain closely resembles the colder winter temps. Some of these fans are massive, using large motors to spin fan blades very fast, much like an airplane propeller.

It was stated in the above referenced article that a farmer had been killed while aerating his grain. One of the blades on the fan had fragmented and flew like shrapnel, hitting and killing him. It was a freak accident, one that I wish I had never learned about. I cannot quit recalling that incident whenever I turn on a fan at the farm. You have never seen an almost 60-year-old man run so fast as I did today when I hit the button to turn on my fan.

If this farming thing fizzles, I could be a competitive sprinter; that is, if they have a grain bin fan at the starting line and hit the start button instead of a firing a starting pistol.


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