AMES, Iowa -- Fall harvest in northern and western Iowa is expected to yield higher than average corn crops in those areas, according to Iowa State University (ISU) experts. Record harvests in 2004 caused grain elevators to begin piling corn in temporary storage situations, including outdoor piles. The outside piles are gone and 2004 grain has been moved inside, but much has not been sold. This has created a shortage for storage for the 2005.
“The large harvest volume, carryover grain in storage at Iowa elevators and the effects of Katrina will move grain slower than normal this fall,” according Charles Hurburgh of the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative at ISU. “Farmers need to plan for the potential storage of grain on-farm to capture additional premiums and reduce backups in elevators already at storage capacity.”
Temporary grain storage facilities need to protect the grain from moisture, wind, birds, rodents, and insects. Thus, storage in an existing building (such as a pole barn, machinery shed, warehouse, or even livestock building) is preferred over outdoor piles.
“Farmers with empty silos previously used for silage or other empty buildings on the farm may consider those for dry grain storage,” Hurburgh said. “There are a number of general considerations that need to be weighed in approaching the evaluation of an existing silo or building for possible adaptation for dry grain storage.”
Make sure the building location is well drained. If the building does not have a concrete floor, place the grain on plastic to prevent moisture moving from the ground to the grain. Even with a concrete floor, Hurburgh advises covering the concrete with plastic, especially if the concrete is cracked. Moisture vapor will move through concrete and into the grain if the soil below the concrete is wet. The grain must be cool and dry. Harvest temperatures may be fairly warm, which means aeration cooling will be needed very soon after storage.
Silos must be in sound structural condition, and hooped or reinforced sufficiently to store dry shelled grain. The silo must have a roof and a concrete floor. Walls must be reasonably tight and be equipped with an aeration system. Any storage must have aeration to be successful. Even dry corn will spoil because of temperature-induced moisture migration, if aeration is not used to balance grain and air temperatures. Estimate approximately 1 hp of fan per 10,000 bushels, to maintain temperature (not drying).
“Various techniques and facilities have been used to store grain temporarily with success,” Hurburgh said. “Generally, the more durable the facility, the longer grain can be stored without excess loss. Temporary grain storage is for less than 6 months. Stored grain is the result of a season's work — it deserves as much attention in storage as it took to produce it in the first place.”
For additional information regarding on-farm storage of grain and other grain quality issues, visit the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative Web site at www.extension.iastate.edu/grain.
In addition, a special Web page has been created to offer farmers risk and energy management tools to help them make better decisions this harvest season. That page is www.extension.iastate.edu/agenergy.