You go to a lot of trouble to grow and harvest the best and biggest crop you can, so it makes good sense to provide the best storage conditions for that grain, as well. Thoroughly cleaning and treating grain storage areas before loading in the new crop are musts. Now several new products are available to help prevent damaging insect infestations.
A unique new tool for managing stored grain is the StorMax Insector. This high-tech probe can be connected to a simple handheld monitor or a more elaborate PC-based software program to warn of insect activity or potentially dangerous temperature and moisture pockets in stored grain.
The product, which hits the market this month, was originally developed and patented by USDA Agricultural Research Service engineer Dennis Shuman more than a decade ago as the Electronic Grain Probe Insect Counter. After partnering with Canadian firm OPIsystems, out of Calgary, Shuman and ARS specialists refined the probe's capabilities to include infrared beam sensors that record not only the number of insects that crawl into the probe's perforated, four-sided surface, but also what type of insects are present.
“The 1½-ft.-long probe has 1,000 small holes in it, which are angled upward to keep grain particulate out,” explains OPIsystems President Dave Crompton. “Insects migrate up the holes, then fall down the center, past two separate infrared detectors that provide a two-dimensional shot of the pest, which makes it easier to determine the species.”
He says the probe works in any type of grain. It can be moved from bin to bin or used as part of the company's broader StorMax Pro real-time management system, which automatically checks grain conditions and controls fans to manage aeration.
Base price of one probe, with handheld data logger and cables, is about $800. “Any producer storing at least 50,000 bu. of grain could easily justify that investment,” Crompton says. “When you figure your potential savings in electricity, labor, fumigation and grain shrink, it's well worth the cost.
“Many producers have been taking grain storage for granted and don't realize the value of closely managing it,” he adds. “But when you think about grain storage as a profit, or loss, center, then this kind of technology makes a lot of sense.”
Fine-tuning grain management
If grain handling is not your forte, a new educational CD offers a practical way to bone up on the basics.
The “Stored Grain Pest Management Self-Study” CD easily installs on a personal computer and contains movies with narration, photos and text developed by University of Illinois and Purdue University Extension staff. They designed it as an educational tool to help pesticide applicators prepare for certification exams, explains Bruce Paulsrud, U of I Extension specialist. But they kept producers in mind as a secondary audience.
“In addition to learning how to properly apply fumigants and protect themselves during application, users will be able to identify and better understand major pests such as insects, molds, and rodents, and understand their biology,” Paulsrud says.
The CD covers all areas of Integrated Pest Management, including bin cleaning, temperature and moisture management, pest detection and identification, and dealing with mycotoxins. “Application technology, pesticide labels and legal issues have changed considerably over the past five to 10 years, and we will experience more changes in the near future,” Paulsrud says. “Whether you're an experienced grain handler or relatively new at it, this CD will be a valuable educational tool.”
Paulsrud explains that Sanitation, Loading, Aeration, Monitoring (SLAM), a postharvest IPM strategy that maximizes grain quality and profits, is the cornerstone of maintaining postharvest quality and is the basis for a solid grain management program. “This CD examines proactive and preventative SLAM steps every grain handler can put to use immediately,” he says.
System requirements for the CD include a Pentium-based or equivalent computer equipped with at least 32 MB of RAM, CD-ROM drive, sound card and speakers, Windows 98 or newer operating system, and Internet Explorer or Netscape version 4.0 or newer. Price of the CD is $30, plus $6.50 shipping. To order, call 800/345-6087 or visit webstore.aces.uiuc.edu/shopsite/SP39-8-CD.html.
As tighter regulations are being developed for the application of fumigants to stored grain pests, growers are looking for alternatives. Emphasis is shifting to preventative treatments, says Nathan Wright, business manager, seed treatments and grain protectants for Agriliance.
“Grain-applied products including Actellic 5E work very well, and there are no special requirements for applications,” Wright says. “Actellic, which is labeled for use on corn, sorghum and popcorn, works immediately and keeps protecting for as long as 18 months.” Best of all, he adds, treated grain can be put into the food and feed chain immediately.
“Some products are just going to go away,” he predicts. “But AgriSolutions has other options such as Dryacide and Malathion 6% that are alternatives in an Integrated Pest Management program. In an IPM program, they can help preserve grain and margins.”
This shift to preventative products, as opposed to rescue treatments such as fumigation, is positive, Wright says. The commodities can be preserved immediately at harvest when transferred into storage. Fumigants still can be used as a backup rescue treatment, if necessary, but he recommends that they be custom applied by a certified applicator.
The cost of these protectants ranges from $0.01 to $0.07/bu. “But even at the high end of that range, a grower needs to save just 2½% of his treated grain mass to be money ahead,” Wright says.
The latest grain-applied insecticide to receive EPA approval is Storcide, from Gustafson LLC. For use on wheat, barley, oats, rice and sorghum, it combines the active ingredients cyfluthrin and chlorpyrifos-methyl to protect stored grain from granary weevil, rice weevil, red flour beetle, confused flour beetle, saw-toothed grain beetle, Indianmeal moth, Angoumois grain moth, lesser grain borer and larger grain borer. “Storcide offers better protection against the lesser grain borer than other products on the market,” says Glenn Karaffa, stored grain products manager for Gustafson.
One of the product's benefits is that it is safe for humans and animals. Grain treated with Storcide can be shipped immediately for milling, baking or animal feed, although it is not cleared for exported grain to some countries. It is also a low-use-rate liquid product that can be applied with most any spraying equipment as grain enters the bin.
Because of the export issues with one of Storcide's active ingredients — cyfluthrin — the company has developed Storcide II, which replaces cyfluthrin with deltamethrin, allowing its use on all exported grain. “We are hoping for EPA approval for Storcide II in the coming year,” Karaffa says. “Beyond that, we have other products coming, too, including Secure, which uses the naturally occurring bacterium spinosad. Producers can definitely expect to have more grain protectant options available to them in the next few years.”