Prepare grain handling equipment for corn harvest

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By David Harrison

Excellent corn yields are expected this year and corn harvest will soon be underway. Bin preparation is a must to prevent delays in harvest and keep grain at high quality.   

Growers should follow the grain stream and thoroughly clean all equipment from the receiving pit or auger all the way through the system to bin unloading augers or conveyors.  

Remove all old grain, trash and debris from nooks and crannies in conveyors, the dryer and storage bins. A wet-dry vacuum is preferred over a compressed air blower in hard-to-reach areas because it’s better to collect and dispose of the unwanted material rather than disperse it in the immediate area where it will attract birds, rodents and insects.
While cleaning, inspect all conveyors for excessive wear. Make sure drive assemblies and/or gearboxes are working well.

It can take a day or two to thoroughly clean, inspect and repair all equipment in large facilities. However, the payoff is that incoming grain will be protected from possible contamination and subsequent spoilage which could pay dividends later. Also, preventive maintenance ensures equipment will be more dependable and efficient.

Before harvest, make sure to perform a general inspection of all electrical and gas connections. Disconnect power and open the service panel, junction boxes and covers on individual motor controls to look for insect nests that can create overheating, short circuits or other problems.

Likewise, check gas supply lines, fittings, connections and burner orifices in addition to test-firing the dryer to be sure the system is working well.

Along with the predicted large crop, the extended weather forecast shows less than ideal field drying conditions, which presents its own unique problems, and may put many grain dryers to the test.  

Information on harvesting, handling, drying and storing corn is provided in the extension publication on corn management in Kentucky (ID-139), available at http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id139/harvesting.pdf.