Ohio Corn, Soybeans: Preparing Grain Bins for Post-Harvest Storage

First – before using any product to treat grain bins, always read the most current label for the product to assure that the product is used correctly.  This is for the protection of the grain to be stored in the bin as well as for the protection of the applicator of the product. 

Labels for products are subject to change from one year to the next, product registrations can be changed and/or canceled and rates may be changed.  Errors made because of not reading the most current label could result in injury to the applicator or contamination of the grain with a non-labeled product making it unsalable.

Bins with perforated aeration floors (a.k.a. “false floors”)

If a bin has had a known insect problem in the recent past where a residual population of the insect(s) could be hidden under the perforated aeration floor, fumigation might be the only option to destroy these hidden insects.  The most likely product to be used for this purpose is aluminum phosphide (phosphine gas) which is sold under a number of different trade names such as Phostoxin, Fumitoxin and Weevil-Cide.

When determining the proper dosage for treating the empty bin, one has to remember that the dosage is based on the total volume of the area into which the fumigant is being released.

There are several precautions to be addressed when using aluminum phosphide as a fumigant:

  1. The phosphine gas released by aluminum phosphide is only slightly heavier than air and will sink through a perforated aeration floor into the void below; however any air flow that is allowed to pass through the grain bin will easily carry off the phosphine gas from the intended target area.  Thus, to accomplish a successful fumigation of the volume of the targeted area within the bin, the area must be completed sealed!  If one is not willing to put forth the effort to properly seal the structure, don’t use this product!
  2. The entire empty bin does not need to be fumigated if the true target is below the perforated aeration floor.  Plastic sheeting sealed around the walls can be used to restrict the gas below the floor.
  3. Phosphine gas is a highly toxic compound and must be handled with care following all safety requirements listed on the label and in the applicator’s manual.  Phosphine gas is a colorless, odorless compound.  For safety purposes, the manufacturer of aluminum phosphide includes an indicator compound to warm persons of the potential presence of phosphine gas.  The indicator compound is described as smelling like garlic, fish or carbide.  If a person smells this indicator compound, they should leave the area immediately.  Unfortunately, a person’s sense of smell will become accustom to the odor very quickly and be undetectable.  Thus, absence of the odor does not mean safety.
  4. The aluminum phosphide label and applicator’s manual have gone through major revisions recently.  Thus, one must read both very closely to use this product correctly.

Interior Bin Surface Treatments

There are very few products left registered for use around and on stored grains.  Thus, the list is short.  For corn and popcorn bins, products registered for interior surfaces of empty storage bins include:

  • Tempo SC Ultra (a.i. is cyfluthrin) used as a liquid spray
  • Centynal (a.i. is deltamethrin) used as a liquid spray
  • Pyronyl (a.i. is pyrethrin) used as a liquid spray
  • Diacon-D IGR (a.i. is s-methoprene) used as a dust application
  • Insecto (a.i. is diatomaceous earth) used as a dust application

For soybean bins, products registered for interior surfaces of empty storage bins include:

  • Tempo SC Ultra (a.i. is cyfluthrin) used as a liquid spray
  • Diacon-D IGR (a.i. is s-methoprene) used as a dust application
  • Insecto (a.i. is diatomaceous earth) used as a dust application

Prior to using any of these products, the first step to bin preparation for the upcoming storage is sanitation, sanitation, sanitation. Everything that comes into contact with the grain should be cleaned thoroughly to remove all old grains that could potentially be harboring insect infestations. These items include, but are not limited to: grain carts, wagons and trucks, combines, combine heads, augers, grain dumps and pits, grain legs, grain driers, and bins (inside and outside).

Any spilled grain should be removed.  Old seed and feed sacks should be disposed of.  Any bin that is to be used for this upcoming harvest season should be empty.  Never place new grain on top of old grain.


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