Managing grain quality challenges with unconventional storage this harvest

With anticipated shortages of grain bin capacity this fall, some farmers will be relying on unconventional storage solutions. And that could lead to grain quality issues without proper management, said Gary Woodruff, a GSI district manager and grain conditioning expert.

He notes that good conventional alternatives available to farmers include pile systems involving wall panels, a tarp for weather protection and proper aeration. A flat storage building, specifically equipped with aeration tubes or tunnels, can also safely hold excess grain, he said.  

Woodruff, however, says unconventional storage sites — a machine shed, for example — pose risks.

“The first is a structural issue,” he said. “If you pile corn in the building without additional support to the walls, they can blow out. Grain is a movable product, and any corn against a wall can cause structural failures.”

The other concern is grain quality.

“If there is no aeration system, the grain should be stored at 13% moisture or below, late in the season after temperatures are down to 50 degrees to prevent spoilage,” Woodruff said. “Leave the grain there no longer than you absolutely have to, depending on temperature and humidity. It’s only a matter of a days or a few weeks, and your grain quality will be in trouble.”

He notes that unequipped machine sheds and other unconventional grain storage sites should be considered as a last resort.

“Once you have to rely on those, you have put yourself in a position of compromise,” Woodruff said. “Then it becomes a challenge of managing and doing the best you can, but there still may be losses.”

For additional information, he suggests farmers contact their grain system dealer or ag university resources.

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