As the growing season draws to a close and grain goes into storage for the winter, farmers must still watch for insect pests that could destroy the entire crop. The biggest threats to stored rice are the lesser grain borer and the rice weevil, but excessive moisture and temperature variations can also cause extensive damage to the grain.

In the past, monitoring stored grain was dependant on bin managers, and required diligence and near-constant oversight. A new computer-based tool promises to make this task much easier, according to Dr. Ted Wilson, director of the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Beaumont, and a member of the team that developed the program.

The new tool is a Web-based grain management program called Post-Harvest Grain Management (http://beaumont.tamu.edu/RiceSSWeb). It was developed by the Beaumont Center, in cooperation with the University of Arkansas Rice Processing Program, the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Manhattan, Kansas and the University of Missouri.

The interactive application predicts temperature and grain moisture as well as the population dynamics and damage of rice weevil and lesser grain borer inside bins.

It is directly linked to a weather database for Arkansas, Missouri and Texas. The database is updated automatically from several weather data sources, mainly the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather database. The program allows users to choose historic and near real-time data (for some stations) in order to evaluate the effect of regional weather on bin aeration and pest populations.

“For example, in cooler rice growing regions, such as Arkansas, pest populations will not build up as quickly as they will in the warmer climate of the Texas Gulf Coast,” said Wilson.

The program also provides graphic display and analysis of simulation results and can be used as a strategic tool for post-harvest grain management. According to Wilson, capabilities for grain management, economic analysis and production decision-making will be included in a future release.

Farmers are encouraged to provide feedback and suggestions on improving the program to insure a user-friendly application.