What Farmers Need to Know About Proper Grain Storage

grain storage

Every bit of grain counts.

Keeping your grain dry and fresh through proper storage should be a high priority, no matter where you farm. It’s important to understand the science and care involved in effective grain storage.

We’ve compiled everything you need to know about storing your grain properly. Take a look and start implementing these key techniques before the season’s out.

Most farmers choose to store their grain supplies in grain bins. These can range in size, holding anywhere from 1,800 bushels to over 100,000 bushels of grain.

Commercial grain bins can contain larger quantities, ranging up to millions of bushels. Other options available to farmers for grain bins include hopper bottom bins and smooth hopper bins. 

1. Grain can easily spoil, in many different ways

It’s important to have a good handle on the many ways grain can spoil in order to maintain proper grain storage habits. Unfortunately, grain can spoil quite easily, but with the right techniques, you’ll be able to prevent any form of spoilage in your grain supply.

The biggest factors that affect grain quality are molds and mildews, the temperature in the storage facility, the moisture content of the grain itself, the quality of the grain when it is first stored, and insects. Insects and mold especially present problems for supplies that are stored for more than 10 months.

The following steps will discuss how to monitor all of these threats to grain quality by relying on proper grain storage techniques.

2. The condition of the grain you store can affect the possibility of spoilage

Farmers wanting to store their grain for longer periods should make sure they start out with very mature and healthy harvested grain. Believe it or not, this can be a determining factor in the grain’s lifespan in its storage bin. 

A less mature or robust harvest may lead to spoilage. Grain that encountered early or late frosts or an insect infestation should not be stored.

3. Grain bins and equipment need to be prepared before storage

It is essential for grain to be stored in a clean bin. A clean bin is free from any insects or lingering grain from previous harvests. If you had an insect infestation in previous years, it’s important to fumigate the grain bin prior to storage.

Farmers should be rigorous when inspecting bin cleanliness, especially because of the high potential for insect infestation. Insects like to live under floors as well, so all flooring in the storage facility should be thoroughly inspected and cleaned.

It’s important to clean the immediate area surrounding the grain bin, besides the flooring. The area should be completely free of debris and excess vegetation. All handling equipment should also be inspected and cleaned to remove any lingering grain from the previous harvest. The grain itself should also be cleaned before it is stored in its bin or container. 

Lastly, if insects are common in your experience with harvest and storage, it’s suitable to spray the interior surfaces of the storage bin with insecticides a few weeks before the bin is filled. The grain itself can also be treated with an acceptable insecticide.

4. Grain should be dried and aerated properly

Prior to storage, grain has to be dried in a way that doesn’t permit too much moisture to enter the supply and spoil it. The longer the grain storage waits, the lower the moisture content of the grain should be.

Temperature can make or break the quality of grain in a storage bin. Temperature is a leading factor in spoilage of grain supplies, and it’s critical to know exactly what temperatures your grain requires in certain seasons and during certain times of the day.

Make sure you’re using an effective aeration system in order to maintain the proper temperature for your grain supplies. Some farmers may want to consider using temperature cables for their grain supplies.

When a bin is filled with grain, the supply should be uniform to enable smooth and consistent aeration. Leveling the surface as much as possible is a great way to ensure uniform aeration. Consider using a grain spreader to even out any fines or debris and promote better airflow.

Generally, grain should be stored at cooler temperatures in the summer and up to freezing temperatures in the winter. It’s essential to keep in mind that new grain, placed on top of old grain, can lead to spoilage.

5. Grain supplies need to be monitored constantly

Depending on the season, it’s important to monitor grain storage facilities to make sure temperature, aeration, and other techniques are suitable. Farmers should check on their grain supplies at least once a month during winter and at least twice a month during the hotter seasons (spring and summer). 

When monitoring, farmers should keep an active record of temperatures and moisture content. The grain supply should also be inspected for insect infestation or mold growth. These things can be assessed by inspecting the surface of the grain supply, the bin roof, and exhaust air.

Regular coring by pulling out a load is a recommend practice. Grain discharges from the bin in the column over the center sump (gate). Coring the bin gives you a look at the grain from the top to the bottom of the bin. Allowing for an assessment more through than just looking at the top.

It’s critical for farmers to maintain all safety measures when they are checking in on supplies. Grain bins can be dangerous if safety procedures aren’t followed. Inspectors should always go in pairs and take all precautions when dealing with grain storage facilities. 

Storing Grain Properly

Proper grain management is essential to your peace of mind and success as a farmer. It’s critical to keep in mind the ways that grain can spoil in order to prevent spoilage from happening.

Grain should be stored in extremely clean and secure bins. Its moisture content and temperature should be monitored daily. When harvesting, farmers should choose only the healthiest and highest quality grains to store, as the initial condition of grain can affect its capacity to spoil.

It’s also crucial for farmers to maintain all safety measures when dealing with grain storage facilities. When possible, they should rely on professional assistance to manage grain effectively and repair any storage issues. 

Adam’s Grain Bins is the Northwest’s leader in all aspects of grain management, including handling, storage, and drying. We also provide consulting and design services, grain bin erection, and repair. Let us know today how we can help you with all of your grain storage needs!