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More Corn Than Storage? Try These Temporary Remedies

Many Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania farms, and some in New York, have more grain than storage. Consider these short-term solutions.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

September 26, 2013

2 Min Read

An abundant corn and soybean harvest is a good thing, unless you have no room to store the crops. That's why in early August, American Agriculturist found that "business is booming" for grain bin marketers. All sales persons contacted at Empire Farm Days and Ag Progress Days reported that their construction crews were booked solid well into this harvest.

So what do you do if lines are backed up at local mills and elevators? With 10% to 15% or more grain dry matter losses, holding off harvest isn't a good solution at current grain prices.


So what can you do? We scoured website resources for answers. Here are a few, gathered from Charles Hurburgh, ag and biosystems engineer at Iowa State University:

Temporary grain storage is meant to be just that – temporary – for less than 6 months. Existing building, such as pole barns, machinery sheds, warehouses or livestock buildings are preferred over outdoor piles. And, you still need to protect the grain from moisture, birds, rodents and insects.

An empty silo previously used for silage may be an option. But it must be structural sound, and hooped or reinforced sufficiently to store dry shelled grain. It must have a roof and a concrete floor.

Any storage system must be equipped with aeration. Even dry corn will spoil because of temperature-induced moisture migration, if aeration isn't used to balance grain and air temperatures. Figure about 1 h.p. of fan per 10,000 bushels, to maintain temperature (not drying).

A building to be used for storing grain must be well-drained. Whether it has a concrete floor or not, cover the floor with plastic to prevent moisture from migrating upward.

Your grain must be cool and dry to store at these sites. That may require aeration cooling.

For more about on-farm storage of grain and grain quality issues, visit the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative website: Be sure to check out the structure specification considerations in Fact Sheet #38.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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