Grain storage: A systematic approach
- Published: Friday, Sept. 5, 2014
- Reviewed Date: Friday, Aug. 28, 2020
Stored dry grain represents a substantial investment of time and money. Protect that investment by properly drying and storing grain. The basics of grain drying, storage, management and care are outlined below.
Grain drying options
- Field drying
Field drying grain involves leaving the grain in the field until it is dry or has reached the target moisture content. Factors including weather conditions and harvest losses should be considered before choosing to field dry. If harvest must begin before the grain dries in field, the grain must be dried to safe, long-term storage moisture content before it can be safely stored in long-term storage.
- In-bin drying
Drying a batch of grain in a bin using natural air or low temperature takes more than 24 hours and potentially up to several weeks. Once dried to safe long-term moisture content, the grain can be left in the bin or transferred to a different storage container/structure or facility.
- Independent drying
Batch and continuous dryer systems rapidly dry grain. In batch drying, a specific volume of grain is dried at a time, based on the dryer’s holding capacity. In continuous drying, grain continuously flows through the dryer until dry.
- Dryeration and combination drying
In dryeration and combination drying systems, the drying process is stopped before the grain is dry. In a dryeration system, the grain is held for several hours before being cooled. In a combination drying system, grain is partially dried at a high temperature and then transferred (still hot or cooled) to a low-temperature bin to finish drying.
Grain storage options
- Nonaerated storage
Any grain storage that does not involve moving air through the grain is nonaerated. Bag storage, nonaerated piles, nonaerated flat storages and bins without fans are types of nonaerated storage. All nonaerated options are covered and have a moisture barrier underneath to minimize the moisture that enters the grain mass.
- Aerated storage
Aerated grain storage involves moving air through the grain. Examples of aerated systems include bins with aeration fans and flat storages, such as buildings or piles, with aeration systems. Maximum airflow is typically below 0.5 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per bushel and might vary throughout the stored grain.
- Dryer-capable storage
Bins with fan capacity to deliver airflow of at least 1.0 cfm per bushel can be used to dry as well as store grain.
- Uncovered piles
Grain can be stored outdoors in uncovered piles.
Storage duration and management issues
- All grain
All grain to be stored for one month or longer should be dried to the safe, long-term moisture content. Allowable storage time impacts how long grain can be stored at a higher-than-safe long-term moisture content.
- Nonaerated storage
Grain must be dry before being placed in nonaerated storage. Such storage does not have an aeration system to aerate a grain mass that has developed hot spots or otherwise begun to spoil. If grain begins to go out of condition in nonaerated storage, it must be moved to aerated or dryer-capable storage, used or sold.
- Aerated or dryer-capable storage
Aerated and dryer-capable storage are the most flexible types of long-term storage for maintaining grain quality. If grain in these types of storage is found to be going out of condition, the aeration or drying capability can be used to recover grain mass.
- Uncovered piles
Grain can be left in uncovered, outdoor piles short term as long as the weather is cool and dry. If the weather is not cooperative, significant losses are likely to occur.
These grain drying and storage options, as part of taking grain from field to sale, should be compared on technical feasibility as well as economic benefits.
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