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Grain Storage Preparation and Maintenance Saves Quality

Posted: August 28, 2012

Starting out with a clean grain bin free of old, insect-infested grain is essential to getting a good start .

Grain harvest is not too far away and with current prices steps to protect grain from insect infestation and preserve grain quality pay off faster than ever. Starting out with a clean grain bin free of old, insect-infested grain is essential to getting a good start, particularly if no other protection will be applied to the grain. Sweeping down the walls of the bin and getting old grain out of the cracks and crevices is essential to prevent problems later.

Malathion, Storcide II ™, Tempo Ultra SC ™, Suspend SC ™, Contain ™ and several pyrethrin products can be used to apply a surface treatment to the inside of the bin and provide a residual. Note that on the label for Storcide II there are restrictions on the application method. Chloropicrin is no longer labeled to fumigate underneath false floors and in air ducts. Phostoxin (aluminum phosphide) is the only product that can be used for this purpose. See the Agronomy Guide for more details.

Once the bin has been properly cleaned, it is important to put clean, insect-free new grain in the bin. The first step to accomplish this is to make sure your equipment has been cleaned out before you begin harvesting. Otherwise, you could bring in insects that have been living inside of your combine.

Make sure the combine is adjusted to minimize breakage of grain. Whole grain is more difficult for molds and insects to infest and also makes aeration of the bin more efficient. If possible, grain should be run through a cleaner before placement in the bin. Sanitation and surface treatment should be sufficient to control insects for a six to nine month period.

If you are not able to clean out the bin or don’t fumigate under floor areas, or if you think the storage period may be longer, application of a residual insecticide to the grain as it goes into storage will help keep insects controlled. Actellic 5E is labeled for this use on corn and sorghum whereas Storcide II is labeled for barley, oats, sorghum, and wheat. Application of methoprene (Diacon II) is also an option and this hormone mimic will prevent larvae from becoming adults, stopping the life cycle. A dust formulation of malathion (check the label) may possibly still be available for treating grain. If you do not treat the whole bin this way you can treat the last load going in with a protectant or mix in a Bt product into the top four to six inches of grain in the bin to control Indian meal moth.

During winter months, the cool temperatures keep insect activity in check but as spring approaches and grain temperatures rise above 40–50°, insects can become active and reproduce. If insect populations do develop in your bin, in most cases, your only option is to fumigate. Aluminum or magnesium phosphide is labeled for grain fumigation. You must be a certified applicator to use these products. Remember, fumigation only kills insects that are present and does not provide long—term residual protection.

Grain storage insecticide labels have been changing frequently over the last several years. As always, check to make sure you are following the instructions on the product label.

Contact Information

John Rowehl, York County Extension, jer2@psu.edu
John Tooker, PSU Entomology Specialist, jft11@psu.edu