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February 21, 2007

Farmers advised that snow may have created grain bin problems

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Following the recent heavy snowfall, farmers are advised to clean snow from the tops of their grain bins not only to prevent crusting or molding, but also as a safety measure.

Blizzard conditions, with wind speeds greater than 35 mph, falling or blowing snow and near-zero visibility, may have created problems for farmers that go beyond transportation. Snow that has been blown into the tops of grain bins must be removed before it melts and causes molding and crusting over. Crusting blocks air that could cool a warming grain surface and looks like the bin was never unloaded.

"If a person steps on the bridged grain surface, it will likely collapse and engulf the person, which can lead to suffocation death," said Dirk Maier, a Purdue University Extension engineer. "Never enter a grain bin that has been partially unloaded or while unloading equipment is running."

The first step is to assess the situation. If relatively small or concentrated amounts of snow have entered the grain bin, aeration during cold, clear days will prevent mold from developing. However, a thick layer of snow covering much of the grain surface should be removed by running the unloading conveyor.

"Bring down the top layer of grain, including the snow from the grain bin, as soon as possible," Maier said.

"Unload grain as soon as it becomes feasible, even if the snow has already melted. Even though it is rather cold outside right now, warmer spring weather will arrive in a few weeks and the chance for surface crusting and grain molding will increase greatly."

For more information, contact Purdue Extension at (888) EXT-INFO.

Writer: Becki Francis, (765) 496-1050, rfrancis@purdue.edu

Source: Dirk Maier, (765) 494-1175, maier@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
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