Helpful Tips for Long-Term Grain Storage and Better Value At-Market
When the US Department of Agriculture estimated a corn harvest bigger than the previous forecast this past August, corn futures fell briefly. None of this surprises old farmers who have seen the market shift with predictions and reality.
To turn a profit, farmers must consider the value of long-term grain storage. Old-school farmers take their grain directly to the elevator, accepting whatever the manager will give them.
But savvy farmers for the past several decades understand they have a choice if they have the right storage equipment.
You can understand the basics of crop care and produce a stellar crop, but if you cannot turn a profit on it because of declining markets, your work is for naught. Learn the basics of grain storage so you can make your hard work worth it.
Grain Storage Tips and Tricks
When you harvest your grain, it is at its peak of life away from the plant. It has living microorganisms in it, and it has the highest potential for fungi to set in and turn into nasty mold.
Grain elevator operators understand this and thus have elaborate storage systems to keep grain fresh and safe until they can ship it off to a processing plant. You can do the same things at home that grain elevator operators do.
Clean Your Bin
Your first line of defense against problems lies in your bin. Clean out every kernel of leftover grain and thoroughly clean under the floor. If you have an insect problem in the bin, fumigate it five weeks before you store new grain in it.
Prepare your grain’s home so it has a clean, dry place to live for a while.
Dry Your Grain
Unless you have the perfect crop with the perfect moisture, you will need to plan on drying your grain. Long-term grain storage success relies heavily on a dry product.
You have approximately four to eight hours after you harvest the grain to get it into the dryer. Do not hold wet grain any longer than eight hours as mold can set in and compromise your product.
Wet grain shortens the storage time as well, so if you do not dry your grain thoroughly, then you’ll have less time to hold it before it spoils.
Drying grain will kill those insects, fungi, and micro-organisms living in your freshly harvested grain.
Drying grain to the perfect point requires finesse. If you do not dry the grain enough, it will spoil. If you dry the grain too much, you end up with popcorn or other similar items with low test weight.
Dry your corn to 13 percent, soybeans to 11 percent, and wheat to 12.5 percent for maximum storage capacity and test weight.
Separate Your Grain
Keep your new grain away from your old grain.
Grain ultimately does have a storage life. So the longer you hold it, the more the quality declines. The best grain for storage will have a high test weight since test weight affects the grain’s tolerance for storage.
Kernels should have no cracks since cracks give the grain a place for mold to start. Quality test weight is around 58 pounds per bushel for corn and 60 pounds for wheat and soybeans.
The high-quality grain just stores better. Whole-kernel grain at the right test weight, dried to perfection creates the recipe for long-term storage success.
Thus you should not mix the old with the new. The longer your grain sits, the more its quality declines, so keep your old grain in its bin and fill your freshly cleaned bin with new grain. Your new grain will not raise the quality of the old, but the old will certainly lower the quality of the new.
Storing Damaged Grain
Every farmer knows that even with his best efforts, he cannot control the weather. When you end up with damaged grain because of conditions beyond your control, you can still store it.
The NDSU extension service states that grain with damaged kernels or significant amounts of foreign material needs to be stored at 1 to 2 percentage points lower moisture content than clean grain.
Once you’ve determined you have a quality product and then dry it to perfection, you need to keep it fresh.
Level Your Grain
Begin by leveling the grain. Peaking will create warm spots.
Fans must run 50 percent more to cool peaked grain versus leveled bins. Plus, if you peak your grain, you increase the danger of checking it.
Then aerate your grain. You need constant airflow and temperature throughout our grain. Use grain spreaders to even distribute fines and repetitive coring to redistribute fines from the center.
Once you cool your grain, cover your fans so the grain stays the same temperature.
You can know the temperature of your grain by using temperature monitoring systems. You can use a portable monitoring system, where you have to check your grain regularly but can take the monitoring system with you.
You can also purchase a remote system where you can conveniently check your grain temp from just about anywhere.
Heat is the enemy with grain storage. Keep the temperature at 40 degrees, and no more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Using aerators and fans will allow you to keep the grain cool even in the summer when the heat is the enemy.
You need to check the temperature of your grain every 14 days minimally and more if possible to make sure nothing crops up where you cannot see problems. Your temperature system is your grain’s lifeline.
Use Your Nose
Thermometers will help you monitor the grain with data, but you can and should use old-fashioned techniques like your nose. When you turn on the aerators, if you smell something funky, you have a problem.
Avoid Grain Storage Problems
You can still capitalize on tomorrow’s grain prices with proper grain storage techniques.
For all of your grain storage needs, contact us and check out our storage inventory.