Fall Harvest Fumigation Requires Preventative Planning

October 7th, 2021:

Fall harvest is one of my favorite times of year.  If you grew up around agriculture like I did, you will notice the soothing sound of grain dryers running in the distance, combines churning corn and beans, the smell of diesel fumes and last but not least, the hint of pumpkin spice in your coffee. The number of bushels harvested daily is dizzying.  The end of the growing season of these crops in the field marks the beginning of the lifecycle of that grain as it is turned into a variety of goods ranging from food to fuel.

Unfortunately, we will lose an astounding amount of it before it ever leaves storage.  How can a developed country like ours with all our advancements in technology, equipment and research lose even a single kernel (scratches head)?  Sometimes it is because of two-legged problems, other times it is due to four-legged problems or even six-legged problems.  Oh yeah, and sometimes the problems aren’t even visible to the naked eye.  If you guessed people, rodents, insects, and micro-organisms there, you would be correct.

Many have attempted to address these issues, but they remain fraught with effort and who has time for that these days.  The S.L.A.M. acronym made famous by Dr. Dirk Maier, Dr. Linda Mason and Dr. Woloshuck of Purdue University back in the 1990s remains one of the most simplistic forms of loss prevention.  Sanitation, Loading, Aeration and Monitoring are the words represented and each phase is very important.

Most insect populations that cause real damage to stored grains are resident populations that remain populate over the summer in the bin bottoms, augers, and spillage around storage sites.  The introduction of new grains into this environment is the equivalent of watering the weeds.  Clean up after yourself and after storing grains, maintain weed-free barrier and clean equipment including bin bottoms. 

Prior to loading, use a good residual to help prevent any stragglers from gaining a foothold on your new crop.  Cleaning the grain prior to loading is the best practice but difficult to apply at scale.  The debris you load with your grain into storage can cause nasty problems when left unattended.

Aerating and cooling grain to below 50F will give you a lot of an advantage against insect damage and mold.  And finally, monitoring your bins for temps, CO2 levels, insect and rodent activity.  Work with a reputable commercial IPM company on best practices on preventative grain protectant applications and fumigation applications before cooling grain too much.  Since fumigation success requires insects breathe in fumigant, you must maintain at least 55F to be successful.

People like to say, things will get better from here, but when it comes to protecting your yields, it’s just not true.  You must work hard at protecting what you have and pay attention to detail.  One weevil may not seem like much, but if that weevil is a fertilized female ready to unleash 450 children in your pantry, then think again.  I only have 3 at home and that’s bad enough.  Good luck out there and let us know how we can help you create a preventative plan that works for your unique situation.

Contact one of our local representatives for all of your fumigation needs: 

Harrison, OH (servicing surrounding areas)
Josh Wilhelm

Heyworth, IL (servicing surrounding areas)
Levi Farrell

Westfield, IN & Michigan (servicing surrounding areas)
Jordan Rivera

Cedar Rapids, IA (servicing surrounding areas)
Curt Lilleodden

Joliet, IL (servicing surrounding areas)
Steve Granzow