ISSUE 15 September 13, 2007
TEMPORARY GRAIN STORAGE TIPS
Large harvests and a lack of railcars are forcing North Dakota producers and
elevators to store grain on the ground. The risk of crop loss is higher when
grain is stored on the ground than in bins, so ground piles should be considered
short-term storage and monitored frequently. The success of storing grain on the
ground depends on a combination of variables that can be controlled, such as
site preparation, storage design, use of aeration and storage management, and
factors that can't, such as the weather.
Tips for preventing crop loss include:
Select a site that's elevated, has good drainage, is large enough to
accommodate the volume of crop being stored, and has roughly 130 feet of
turnaround space for trucks dropping off the grain.
Prepare a pad for the grain to rest on by mixing lime, fly ash or cement
in the soil to prevent soil moisture from wetting the grain. Make a concrete
or asphalt pad if the site will be used for several years.
Create a crown in the middle of the pad with a gradual slope away from the
center for water drainage. Also make sure the area around the pad drains well.
Run piles north and south to allow the sun to dry the sloping sides.
Build a retaining wall to increase storage capacity.
Place only cool (less than 60 F), dry, clean grain on the ground. Maximize
pile size to reduce the ratio of grain on the surface, which is exposed to
potential weather damage, to the total grain volume.
Build the pile uniformly for maximum grain surface slope and avoid
creating hills, valleys, folds and crevices that will collect water.
Form the pile quickly and cover it immediately to minimize its exposure to
moisture, wind and birds.
Install an aeration system to cool the grain so its temperature is uniform
and equal to the average outdoor temperature. Cool temperatures minimize mold
growth, limit moisture movement and control insects.
Check grain temperatures and moisture content at several locations in the
pile every two to three weeks.
Frequently check the pile's cover for rodent-caused perforations, damage
from wind or ice, worn spots and vandalism, and make repairs.
Inspect retaining walls for separation or movement at the connections and
deterioration of the materials in the walls. Also make sure wall anchors still
When removing the grain, load it from the center of the pile to prevent
uneven pressure on the retaining wall.
Try to separate spoiled grain from the pile to limit the amount of grain
that needs cleaning, drying and blending with other grain stored in outdoor
Alternatives to piling grain on the ground include storing grain in empty
barns and pole buildings used formachinery storage. Here are some tips when
using these buildings:
Make sure the site is well-drained.
Strengthen buildings to support the pressure of the stored grain. Most
buildings were not designed or built to withstand any pressure on the walls.
Check with the building's manufacturer on how deep to fill the structure
For more information, view publication AE-84, "Temporary Grain Storage," on
the NDSU Extension Service's Web site at:
Also check out a list of grain handling, drying and storage publications at
Ext Ag & Biosystem Engineering