Safety in grain bins stressed before warmer weather hits

Safety in grain bins stressed before warmer weather hits

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — A Minnesota man lost his life late last month due to a grain bin accident in Stearns County causing concerns on the storage of grain and the toll that immature grain in bins may take throughout the year, with some saying that working in and around grain bins this year may come with added concern.

"It’s cool out, we’re starting to see problems now; when it warms up this spring and through the summer months, we’re going to see much more issues as that grain starts to warm up,” Safety and Security Consultation Specialists President Jack Volz said.

The trouble with stored grain started somewhere between Mother Nature's toll and market prices.

“Some of the corn didn’t get planted until June and we didn’t have the most growing degree days, so then it got to be a late harvest, some of the corn didn’t actually reach maturity and that’s where a lot of the problems are coming from,” said Jeff Spence, vice president of grain at Crystal Valley Coop.

Short harvest windows that were few and far between put some producers in a hurry and led to high moisture grain stored in bins.

“Turn the planting temperatures up on their dryers, so they can dry faster and that creates more stress fractures in the corn,” added Spence. “That creates more stress factors in the corn and more BCFM and the more BCFM you get in the grain bins, the more the corn hangs up,” Spence continued.

BCFM, or broken corn and foreign material, prevents proper aeration in the bins.

“I’m hearing reports of grain that was dried to 14% that is coming out as 18%, part of that could be the maturity of the kernel, the starch didn’t harden inside, part of it could be that it just didn’t get dried well,” stated Volz.

“When we have different temperature grain in the corn bin, it starts to sweat and then it starts bridging up and that’s when people go in the grain bins to try and break the grain up and they get engulfed in the grain,” said Spence.

Keeping an eye on stored grain is a necessity.

“You know, when we plant grain, a seedling erupts from the ground and grows and we harvest the crop from that, once that plant dies, that grain is starting to die,” said Volz.

Never work in or around a grain bin alone and all equipment should be shut off before entering.

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