One practice gaining traction recently is storing grain in bags. If you choose that route, take the time to make sure your grain will store properly.
Dave Nelson, senior vice president of sales for Loftness, provides answers to some basic questions about grain bags.
How do you decide where to store bags? Keep in mind that you’ll want access to the bags in all weather conditions and seasons. Choose a site alongside a road, or a firm, well-drained area, to allow trucks, loading and unloading equipment access. Additionally, keep in mind that machine traction is very important during loading of the bags. Poor wheel traction will make it difficult to maintain proper filling of the grain bag.
Don’t store grain bags under trees. Branches can fall onto the top of grain bags, which has the most amount of stretch, and cause stress or puncture the bag.
What surface is best? Most economical? The site should be on an elevated, slightly sloped and firm section of land with no chance of flooding. Check for any areas that don’t drain naturally, and dig drainage channels to shed the water away from the site. Lightly scrape the ground of the entire storage site, removing weeds, sticks, stones and stubble that could penetrate the grain bag. Be careful not to loosen the ground. It’s recommended that the grain bag storage site remain as firm as possible and debris-free to minimize grain bag damage.
How do you prepare for rodents and birds? When storing in the field, it’s recommended that bags be positioned in a line. This will help prevent animals, rodents and other pests from using bags as a shelter from weather and natural predators. Chemical can also be sprayed on the site to control weeds and grasses, reducing nesting habitat for rodents.
If there are pecking holes or tears after filling, is there a remedy? Thoroughly inspect grain bags weekly for punctures and seal them as soon as possible. It’s important to repair damaged areas quickly to help prevent moisture from entering the grain bag. Inspect grain bags immediately after every storm. Small damaged areas can be repaired with the bag manufacturer’s specified tape. If the damage is too great to be repaired with the specified tape, it’s recommended that the bag be emptied and loaded into a new bag.
Are there any insect issues with this type of storage? Once grain bags have been sealed, the oxygen level is reduced, and the concentration of carbon dioxide is increased. This environment virtually eliminates fungal diseases and insects without use of chemicals, which means less toxicity, less labor and improved profits.
How long can you store grain in a bag successfully? The amount of time largely depends on moisture content. However, dry grains can typically be stored until the following growing season with no loss of condition.
What percent moisture can be stored? Grain bags are intended for storing dry grain. However, some growers have successfully bagged high-moisture corn for shorter time periods. We don’t advise it.
How do you clean up the site after emptying bags? There are no specific recommendations, other than returning the site to its original condition. The site can be used again for grain bagging, as long as you didn’t experience any problems with the site.
Editor’s note: This is the final article in a seven-part series about preparing for harvest.