Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 6: We're not done yet!

The crop is out of the field, but we aren't done yet! There is still a step (or two) to go. 
If the corn seed still had some moisture in it when it was harvested, then it needs to be dried before it can be stored.  Imagine if you took wet corn and put it in a closed tupperware container in the back of the cabinet.  In a very short time, you'd grow a beautiful blue mold on top, which is exactly what would happen to our corn in the bin, if we didn't dry it down first. Sometimes, we can let the corn simply stand (literally) in the field until it dries out naturally (like drying clothes on a clothesline), and some years that isn't possible - we must harvest the corn before snow falls, or the stalk begins to deteriorate enough that it can't support the weight of the corn ear, and we must harvest it before it falls down.  When the corn isn't dry enough for storage (preferably somewhere around 16% moisture or below), it must go through a drying process first.  The concept is pretty similar to the clothes dryer - heat it up enough to evaporate the water out. This can be pretty low tech - just using fans to blow air across/through the corn after its in the bin, and sometimes, we have to run it through the actual grain dryer - today's "What's That" item.  Here in northern Illinois, we end up having to dry our corn more years than not.  We have a limited window after the corn has matured and before snow comes to get the harvest safely in, and so we usually don't have time to let the corn dry naturally. 

We auger the wet corn in, dry it, and then auger the dry corn out into another bin.  It can even be hooked up to iPhones and computers.  Ours isn't quite that savvy. 

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