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Grain can be stored in many types of containers, but all storage options should keep the grain dry and provide adequate aeration to control grain temperature, according to North Dakota State University grain drying expert Ken Hellevang.
“Grain must be dry and cool (near the average outdoor temperature) when placed in alternative storage facilities because providing adequate, uniform airflow to dry grain or cool grain coming from a dryer is not feasible in these facilities,” says Hellevang, an NDSU Extension Service agricultural engineer.
Producers should look carefully at the advantages and disadvantages of the nontraditional storage methods they are considering, he adds.
Grain pushing against the walls can damage buildings not built for grain storage. The walls must be anchored securely, and their structural members must be strong enough to transfer the force to the building poles or support structure without breaking or bending excessively.
Typically, you will need additional poles and a grain wall to support the grain force in a pole building. Hellevang advises hiring an engineer to complete a structural design or analysis, or contacting the building company for guidance to prevent a structural failure.
Before placing grain in a building previously used for grain storage:
Storing in Bags
Storing grain in poly bags is a good option, but it does not prevent insect infestations or mold growth in damp grain. Hellevang recommends:
Never enter a grain bag because it is a suffocation hazard. If unloading the bag with a pneumatic grain conveyor, the suction can “shrink wrap” a person so he or she cannot move and will limit space for breathing.
Grain frequently is stored short term in outdoor piles. However, precipitation is a severe problem in uncovered grain. A 1-inch rain will increase the moisture content of a 1-foot layer of corn by 9 percentage points. This typically leads to the loss of at least 2 feet of grain on the pile surface.
A 1-foot loss on the surface of a 25-foot-high cone-shaped pile is about 13 percent of the grain. This is a loss of $39,000 if the grain value is $4 per bushel.
If creating outdoor piles:
A combination of restraining straps and suction from the aeration system holds grain covers in place. Place perforated ducts on the grain under the cover to provide a controlled air intake for the aeration system and airflow near the cover to minimize condensation problems.
Properly sized and spaced ducts also should be placed on the ground under the pile to pull air through the grain. If you use a perforated grain wall, the aeration ducts near the wall should not be perforated or the airflow through the grain will be limited to near the wall.
Cooling Stored Grain
Cool grain with aeration to reduce the insect infestation potential. Insect reproduction is reduced at temperatures below about 60 F, insects are dormant below about 50 F, and insects can be killed by extended exposure to temperatures below about 30 F.
Cooling grain as outdoor temperatures cool reduces moisture migration and the condensation potential near the top of the grain pile. In addition, grain moisture content and temperature affect the rate of mold growth and grain deterioration, with the allowable storage time approximately doubling with each 10-degree reduction in grain temperature.
The grain should be cooled whenever the average outdoor temperature is 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the grain. It should be cooled to near or below 30 degrees for winter storage in the northern states and near or below 40 degrees in states with warmer winter temperatures.
Aeration ducts need to have perforations sized and spaced correctly for air to enter and exit the ducts uniformly and obtain the desired airflow through the grain. The maximum spacing for aeration ducts is equal to the grain depth to achieve acceptable airflow uniformity.
Source: North Dakota State University
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