Grain storage and drying issues

Considerations for bagged storage

Before deciding to use bags for storage, consider these key aspect of successfully using bagged storage:

  • Dry the grain.
    Grain must be clean and dry before being placed into bag storage. Dry corn must be less than 14 percent moisture. Therefore, corn must be dried down to long-term moisture content, and the cost and capability of drying grain must be incorporated into the decision to use bagged storage.
  • Plan for short-term storage.
    The duration of storage in bags depends on several factors, but planning for a maximum of six months is reasonable. If a bag becomes damaged or the grain inside a bag is damaged, the grain will need to be marketed sooner. Bags should be considered short-term rather than long-term storage.
  • Monitor the storage.
    Bag storage offers no opportunity for aeration. If grain is not storing well, it needs to be either sold, used or transferred to a bin with adequate aeration capability to recover and maintain the grain quality.
  • Provide ample space for tubes.
    A relatively flat, well-drained site is needed. Tubes should be oriented north-south to minimize the effect of the sun on moisture movement within the tubes. A typical tube has a 9-foot diameter and is 200 feet long, though tubes may range 7 to 10 feet in diameter and be up to 300 feet long. Tubes need to be at least 5 feet apart and to have 20 to 25 feet of space on each end. A typical 9-foot-diameter, 200-foot-long tube will store about 7,000 bushels of grain. The minimal site footprint is about 3,360 square feet: 14 feet × 240 feet provides 5 feet of space between tubes and 20 feet on each end to access the tubes for filling and emptying. A typical 40-foot-diameter by 36-foot-high grain bin holds about 36,000 bushels, which is a bit more than five tubes. So, 1,600 square feet of area is needed for the bin, and about 16,800 square feet is needed for five tubes. More space will be needed if tubes are arranged with a 20- to 25-foot drive space to allow all the tubes to be accessed by unloading equipment.
  • Consider the equipment costs.
    The cost of the bagger machine and unloading machine, either through rental or purchase, needs to be incorporated into the storage cost evaluation. 
  • Formulate a plan to recycle the plastic from empty bags.
    Bags are not reusable. A system will need to be developed to deal with the used bags. The challenges with used grain storage bags are the same as with used silage storage plastic bags or wrap.
Story by Joseph Zulovich

Published Friday, September 5, 2014