Fall Tips to Prevent Plugged Grain Bin Sumps in the Spring
By: Roger Slaughter and Tom Miller, Grain Handling Equipment Sales
From golf balls to running the auger in reverse, we’ve heard of various ‘fixes’ for dealing with a plugged grain bin sump. On top of slowing the unload process, clogged sumps can just plain cause major headaches… and who has time for that?! While we hope our customers never have to deal with this headache, we’ve found the most consistent way to tackle plugged grain bin sumps is to take a proactive approach and prevent them in the first place. With these few tips, hopefully the only problem you’ll be dealing with during unload is being able to turn trucks fast enough.
Coring the Bin
As grain fills the bin, it piles in the middle, creating a cone-like shape. Even if you run a spreader, the fines and lighter materials tend to stay near the center making it hard for airflow to move around it. Not getting enough airflow through the center is typically where you run into the most trouble. By coring the bin, you’re removing much of the fines that will result in a plugged grain bin sump in the spring. Just by taking a load out and dumping it back on top, it will create a more ideal airflow environment by redistributing the fines.
Because air is going to take the path of least resistance, making sure the grain is level can improve air movement and in turn, help prevent plugged grain bin sumps. If grain is peaked and there are a lot of fines in the center, air is going to want to go up the outside, leaving you with spoilage in the middle. Coring a bin creates an inverted cone and is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, coring bins down so the center is just below the corn at the walls will create better air movement to the center of the bin.
We ran an article in the spring edition of Roots on adding GrainTrac temperature cables. For those with larger bins, a person may want to consider putting in temperature sensors to help track grain temperature during storage. We have found most growers underestimate the time it takes to cool corn down. After installing cables in a customer’s bin last summer, we learned that fans needed to run a lot longer than what was previously done to get the temps down throughout the whole bin. Which brings us to our next point…
When in Doubt, Run the Fan
There is no way of really telling what the internal temperature is without some sort of temperature sensor. Seldom do you do any harm by just running the fan. Although there may be some hesitation with running the fan during a rain or when there’s moisture in the air, it’s better to run it than not running it at all especially if your goal is to a prevent plugged grain bin sump. Corn won’t take on moisture from a fan very quickly. In fact, as hard as it is to get the moisture out of corn, it’s even harder to get it back in.
Check Your Bins
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it 100 times over: check your bins! The analogy we’ll use here is if you had $65,000 hanging outside on a clothesline, you’ll probably be out there watching it like a hawk. Why not do the same for the 10,000 bushels of $6.50 corn you have sitting in a grain bin? Walking your bins will help you catch issues before they become major problems.
General cleaning and upkeep of your bins will also help deter problems caused by insects and animals. Give your grain bin a good look from top to bottom before loading this fall.
If this is the year you become a little braver and want to push the limits on grain moisture going into the bin, use your best judgment. Mother Nature always wins in the end, but if it cools down fast enough, you’re okay. However, if the fall weather stays warm, you’ll run into problems that go beyond a plugged grain bin sump. It probably goes without saying, but when corn goes into the bin, make sure it’s dry enough.
Your dryer model may have some other specific areas to check, so we also encourage you to complete the comprehensive checklist in the user manual. If you have any questions or see areas of concern during your pre-season dryer check, we are happy to come out and take a look. Give the Stutsmans grain handling team a call today! 319.679.2281