Preventing insect damage in stored grains

The following management practices from Michigan State University Extension will help producers prevent insect damage in stored grains.

Maximizing the quality of the grain stored on the farm is essential to your profitability. Insect infestations can cause mold and heat damage to occur in your stored grains and make it unusable. Grain buyers may reject infested grain or pay a reduced price. Because of this, it is essential to prevent insect damage in your stored grain. There are several key steps recommended by Michigan State University Extension to accomplishing this. The most effective and economical practice is sanitation.

Remove all debris and vegetation within 10 feet of each bin. Apply a residual herbicide to keep the area clear. Carefully clean all bins and grain-handling equipment prior to harvest. Always start with empty bins and thoroughly clean all surfaces that will come in contact with the grain. Pay particular attention to false floors and aeration ducts as these are sources of insect infestations. Consider applying diatomaceous earth to these areas after all debris has been removed. The product should be applied at least two weeks before filling the bin.

Treat floors, interior walls up to 6 feet high, the foundation and the ground directly around the bin with one of the registered sanitary bin sprays listed below. These products should be applied also to the exterior walls of the bins up to 15 feet high, and the soil around the bins. Apply the products four to six weeks before filling the bin.

Corn and soybeans:

  • Tempo 20 WP, Tempo Ultra WP, Tempo SC Ultra
  • Diatomaceous earth (Insecto and Dryacide)
  • Diacon-D

Corn only:

  • Malathion (not labeled for use in soybeans)

Insect feeding and reproduction is greatly reduced when the temperature of the grain mass is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Monitor your grain for insects at least every two weeks as long as the grain mass is above 55 F. Contact Diagnostic Services at MSU at 517-355-4536 to obtain an accurate identification of any insects found in or on the grain. This is critical as internal feeders such as weevils require fumigation while external feeders such as flour beetles and meal moths can be managed with less costly and less hazardous measures. Because external feeders feed only on broken and damaged grains and grain dust, the best defense against them is to prevent damage during all harvesting, transporting and drying operations.

This article was produced by the SMaRT project (Soybean Management and Research Technology). The SMaRT project was developed to help Michigan producers increase soybean yields and farm profitability. SMaRT is a partnership between MSU Extension and the Michigan Soybean Checkoff program.

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