Sow and Grow with Sara: unsolicited seed packets and good grain storage practices

There are seven main integrated pest management steps to consider for stored grain.

As August arrives, intense cash crop management slows down a bit. We might be past intense weed management on many crops, but don’t forget to scout for detrimental insects wand plant diseases. Corn rootworm, European corn borer, corn earworm, and soybean leaf fungal diseases have all been spotted in South Dakota.

To keep up to-date on what pests are entering the state and best management practices be sure to subscribe to our weekly Pest & Crop Newsletter at

A recent hot topic has been the arrival of unsolicited seed packets from China to various parts of the United States. Recently, people across the country have randomly received seed packets from a Chinese mailing address, often labeled as other merchandise such as jewelry. The main concern with these packages is that seeds with unknown origins could introduce plant diseases, harm livestock, contain invasive species, etc.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture is aware of the issue and has recently released a statement urging the public to refrain from planting any seeds received in this manner as they could have “devastating effects” on South Dakota agriculture. According to the S.D. Dept. of Agriculture, if you receive unsolicited seeds in the mail you should follow these steps:

Do not plant the seeds

Save the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label

Contact the SDDA at 605-773-5425 or email with your name, phone number, date package was received, and number of packages.

Without knowing the intention of the sender, it is much better to be safe than sorry in this situation and proceed with caution if you or someone you know receives a package like this in the mail.

In other news, there has been a lot of activity in small grain fields across the state this past few weeks.

As farmers are busy with harvest, good quality grain storage practices sometimes get pushed aside. In most situations, it’s not necessary to treat grain with a protectant insecticide before binning as long as it’s removed from storage by May or June of the following spring or fed to livestock within a year of harvest. However, if you plan to store longer than this, you should consider applying a protectant after the grain reaches optimal storage moisture.

There are seven main integrated pest management steps to consider for stored grain:

1) Structural and maintenance components. Keep bins clean and repaired. Keep a 10 ft. perimeter around your bins free of vegetation and be sure to clean up grain spills outside of the bin. Before filling the bin check for any leaks that might allow precipitation or rodents in. Clean bins well, ridding them of as much old grain as reasonably possible (never put new grain on top of old grain).

2) Residual insecticide sprays. Residual insecticides can help protect grains, but be sure to follow all labeled instructions. Spray inside walls, ledges, floors, and sills. Spray outside walls and base.

3) Condition grain. Only store clean, dry grain. For long term storage corn should be at or below 13-14% moisture, soybeans at 11%, wheat at 13.5, and oil sunflowers at 8% or less.

4) Proper aeration. Run bin fans during cool, dry periods to ensure uniform temperatures and reduce moisture.

5) Use insecticide protectants. Treat grain as it is moved into storage.

6) Regularly inspect grain. It’s recommended to inspect stored grain often; ideally about once per week until it reaches 55°F or below, at which time less frequent inspections (~every two weeks) should suffice. When inspecting grain don’t forget to follow safety procedures and always have another person outside the bin with a cell phone, wear a properly attached harness, and always break up crusted grain using a long pole or other tool from a distance.

7) Treat infestations when necessary. If there is an insect infestation, move grain and re-treat; cold weather can help kill insects when moving grain. Other options include feeding the infested grain, fumigating the bin, or selling at a reduced price.

For more details on preventing stored grain pests and insecticide application visit

Upcoming/ongoing events• Plot Tours @ Crop Performance Testing Spring Wheat and Oat Trials. Open house style tours are happening at spring wheat and oat trials in SD. Spring wheat trials are near Aberdeen, Agar, Miller, Selby, South Shore, and Sturgis. Oat trails are near Aberdeen, Miller, Pierre, Selby, South Shore, Wall, and Winner. A sign and document box can be found at each location. For specific location details see the events page at

• Pest and Crop Q&A Webinars are being held virtually every Thursday at noon CDT/11am MDT.

To get the free link and see this week’s topics and speakers visit the events page on our website,

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