Corn and soybean prices have been low throughout 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation worse. There have been very few, if any, profitable sales opportunities, which has caused some farmers to hold grain even longer than normal.

Some farmers hold their corn expecting price improvements to come during a spring rally, but that hasn’t happened this year. The longer last year’s corn stays in the bin, the greater the risk of insect damage. As low as prices are, being docked at the elevator can make a bad situation even worse.

Dannis Warf with Central Life Sciences remembers quality issues that last year’s corn had from a wet harvest. “Poor quality corn is more susceptible than a better-quality corn to insect damage," he said. "If they’re pulling it out now, they can still treat it with what we call a rescue approach.”

A couple internal-feeding pests should be scouted for before taking corn to town, he said.

“The farmer has the ability to treat that corn coming out … hold on to it for another day or two, then they can move it, and there won’t be anything alive in the corn; all the insects will be dead when they go to sell it.”

Profit Watch: Avoid elevator dockage

For those who have already emptied their bins, Warf says cleaning that bin now will pay off when the new-crop comes in this fall. “You should not be able to tell what grain was in there from the previous harvest,” he said. "It should be that clean. Then you can treat it any time.”

He says some of their products prevent bugs from reaching maturity. “No new adults means no new insects. And a residual treatment in that bin should last up to a year, so timing really doesn’t matter as long as your treat when it’s clean.”

Warf suggests farmers keep the area outside of the bins clear of weeds and other growth that could harbor insect growth. In addition, any spilled grain should also be taken care of and be disposed. The start-clean, stay-clean method that goes for weed management can also be applied to keep pests away from grain storage units.