With harvest rapidly approaching, all of you grain producers are no doubt hoping for a bumper crop and a timely harvest. With the tremendous increase in on-farm storage in Arkansas, chances are many of you will be drying and storing at least some of your harvest on-farm. While this puts you in control of your grain marketing, this also places you at the mercy of stored grain pests. Having put in the hard work to grow a crop to harvest, you want to ensure that the quality of every bushel of grain is preserved as best as possible to ensure you get the best possible prices.
To ensure your stored grain turns into a healthy profit, keep S-I-T in mind as you get ready for the harvest.
Sanitation: The source of most problems with stored grain starts with old grain that has been lying around accumulating mold and stored grain pests. Even a small amount of old, contaminated grain can create major problems for your current season’s harvest. Starting with a clean slate should be your most important priority. Thoroughly clean all machinery and equipment that is likely to come in contact with harvested grain to ensure it is free of any residual grain. This includes every piece of equipment (and its parts) that can come in contact with your grain as it is being harvested, transported to storage, and in and around storage bins. Pay attention to cleaning all grain and grain residue; pay attention to all spaces where grain and residues can hide (e.g. cracks and crevices in the grain bin or the floor, slotted floors, door ledges, joints, hollow tubing, fans, ducts, exhausts…). Thoroughly sweep, and vacuum all these spaces and brush down bin walls.
While paying attention to your bin is important, it is just as critical to ensure that the area surrounding your grain bins is free of potential sources of grain pests. Vegetation in the immediate vicinity of grain bins can act as a reservoir for stored grain pests. Ensure that there is no vegetation (including grass) that is in contact with your bins.
It is also important to remove all grain and residues in the immediate vicinity of the storage bin; these residues harbor pests and/or can serve as attractants for pests coming into your storage facility. Dispose of all of the old grain and grain residues in the most appropriate and safe manner, as far away as possible from grain storage facilities. Keep in mind—most stored grain insects can and do fly considerable distances.
Inspection: Grain in the bin is (almost) like money in the bank. So you want to ensure your bin functions like the most effective safe for protecting your grain. A careful inspection of your grain bins and associated structures for any signs of wear and tear is vital to ensure the bin effectively keeps out unwanted pests. Look for ways by which even the smallest of stored grain insects can access your grain; fixing these access points will also secure the grain against damage by larger pests like rodents and birds. Think like a stored grain insect! Any space that a single grain of rice can fit into, is like a highway for a stored grain insect to access your harvest. These gaps may also be entry points for moisture that may result in mold. Make all physical repairs to give your grain bin the best possible chance to effectively keep stored grain pests at bay.
Treatment: Once you have paid careful attention to sanitation and inspection and repair of your grain storage equipment and facilities, you need to consider how to give your grain the best chance of remaining pest free for as long as possible. There are various treatment options available for surface treatment of grain bins, preventative treatment sprays for grain and fumigation of grain that are approved for use in Arkansas. Please consult the latest edition of the UA-Division of Agriculture’s MP144 – Insecticide Recommendations for Arkansas for the appropriate treatment method for insect pests for different stored grains. It is crucial that all treatments are applied as per the regulations; some treatments may only be applied by licensed pest control operators.
While you are focusing on S-I-T, please do not forget about SAFETY while you are in and around grain bins. There is no point having your grain turn into profit if you are unable to enjoy it in good health.
For additional information on management of stored grain pests, please contact Dr. Raghu Sathyamurthy (firstname.lastname@example.org; 870-659-5042). For information on grain bin safety and grain drying procedures, please contact Dr. Samy Sadaka (email@example.com; 501-671-2298).