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NDSU urges cleaning grain bins to prevent insect infestations

Janet Knodel, Extension entomologist, North Dakota State University

With harvest just around the corner, be prepared for safe storage of your grain. The following article from Janet Knodel of NDSU Extension outlines some useful tips and reminders as we prepare for the 2020 harvest season:

Deep clean grain bins and trucks

The key to preventing grain insect problems in grain bins is deep cleaning empty grain bins and trucks hauling new grains. Any old grain or even dust residue left in the bin is enough for some grain insects to survive and lead to new infestations reducing the quality and saleability of your new grains. Bins need to be super clean, completely empty and free of insect-infested grain. Leftover grain should be removed from the bin, and the walls should be swept and vacuumed. All grain handling equipment including augers, combines, trucks and wagons also need to be thoroughly cleaned and grain residues removed before harvest.

After cleaning, be sure to check for any cracks, crevices or holes in grain bins and seal them up. This is how most grain insects get into the bins and storage facilities.

The area outside of the grain bins needs to be cleaned and treated. Remove weeds and vegetation, up to a 10 ft border around empty grain bins. Treat the outside surfaces, especially cracks and ledges near doors and fans to prevent insect pests from entering grain bins.

Use a residual bin spray

Once the cleaning and repairs are done, it’s time to spray a residual bin spray, both inside and outside the grain bin. Some insecticide examples are malathion, Tempo, Centynal EC, Diacon IGR Plus (insect growth regulator + adulticide) or a combination of chemicals. They should be applied to bin surface areas 2 to 3 weeks before new grain is placed in the bin. The treatment will kill insects emerging from their hiding places (cracks, crevices, under floors and in aeration systems). Also, insects crawling or flying in from the outside will be killed. Apply the spray to as many surfaces as possible, especially joints, seams, cracks, ledges and corners. Spray the ceiling, walls and floors to the point of runoff. Use a coarse spray at a pressure of more than 30 lb per square inch and aim for the cracks and crevices.

Protect grain that will be stored long-term

Any grain that will be stored for long-term, more than 10 months, should have an insecticide protectant on it to maintain the commodities quality and protect your investment. Cooling the grain to < 50 F will keep insects dormant, and temperature < 20-25 F will kill insects (Figure 1). Please see the stored grains section of the 2020 North Dakota Field Crop Insect Management Guide for insecticides registered in stored grains.

For more information

For additional information, please see Dr. Kenneth Hellevang’s NDSU website on Grain Drying and Handling which addresses all aspects of stored grain management, such as cooling grain to prevent insect and spoilage problems.

Reference to product names is for educational purposes only and does not imply endorsement. 

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