Improving Grain Storage and Quality Management for Weather-damaged Crops

Charles R. Hurburgh

Professor, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering; Professor in Charge, Iowa Grain Quality Initiative

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Date Submitted:
2011 (Period covered - January 1, 2010-December 31, 2010)

Supports Plan of Work Number:
105 - Post harvest management and storage

Title of Success Story:
Improving Grain Storage and Quality Management for Weather-damaged Crops
The 2009 Iowa corn and soybean crop was wet, had low test weight, was infected with field mold and experienced several storm issues. Drying capacity was inadequate and the harvest season did not fully conclude until Spring 2010. The poor quality issues carried over and resurfaced in the summer of 2010.  The 2010 crop was much better quality but river flooding and excess rainfall in late season negatively impacted final quality.

Strengthen the ability of Iowa growers and agricultural dealers to make appropriate decisions regarding harvested grain quality in crops that experienced extreme weather conditions.

Numerous seminars and industry training programs were conducted. New research data on the impact of weather on quality was published in agronomic journals.  This included the hail study done in fall 2009, and the Standing Corn study done in January 2010.  A regular column in ethanol and trade publications was started. The ethanol industry became aware that corn quality had several impacts on its business.  ISU staff worked with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to assist producers and ag dealers in problems with grain quality arising from flood damage in river bottoms from the heavy rains of August 2010.

Outcome Statement:
Iowa growers and agricultural dealers are better able to understand the potential for corn that had expended its shelf life in the Fall to develop blue eye mold in the following summer.

Because hail damage near maturity creates significant field mold and potential for toxin production, Iowa growers realized the importance of correlating preharvest scouting for visible damage with toxin levels.  Thus, they could provide a rational basis to improve insurance settlements for poor quality grain.

The need for better integration of food safety and crop insurance was made clear because near maturity grain that had been flooded (above the grain) by uncontrolled water sources was declared adulterated food/feed by the FDA and was prohibited from entry to the market.

In addition, the need to better establish what material is unsuited for the market was demonstrated.

As a result of understanding the weather impact on grain quality, the ethanol industry, in particular, has begun to evaluate methods to measure this impact on corn quality efficiently.

A grain storage team (5 field specialists in three areas plus Dr. Hurburgh) was established in the IGQI to better address future issues.


105 - Post harvest management and storage


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