Integrated Crop Management

Temporary grain storage options

Iowa farmers can expect a near-record corn harvest this year. There are three grain storage options for farmers to handle the large expected harvest: store the grain temporarily on the farm, sell the grain under a credit sale contract, or store the grain in an elevator under a warehouse receipt.

Store the grain temporarily on the farm. Indoor temporary storage, such as in machine sheds, pole buildings, or warehouses, is preferred over outdoor storage. The storage facility should have a flat cement floor or a 4- to 6-mil plastic vapor barrier to prevent soil moisture from moving into the grain. Grain should not be piled against walls unless the walls are reinforced. Most machine sheds are not designed for any load of corn on the side walls, but grain kits or freestanding bulkheads can be used. Silos or corn cribs also can be used as temporary grain storage with some modifications.

Don't even think about temporary storage without aeration. In-floor ducts are the most convenient for aerating grain but above-floor ducts are usually adequate. Duct spacing should approximately equal grain depth. Fans should be used that can deliver at least 0.2 cubic feet of air per minute per bushel of grain. Aeration for flat storage is intended only for temperature control, and not for grain drying.

For short-term storage, corn should be about 15 percent moisture or less and below 60° F. The key to proper storage is a weekly check for grain moisture and temperature. A moisture meter and grain thermometer attached to a 6-ft metal rod or a screw-in aerator (approx. $100) can be purchased at most farm supply stores.

Sell the grain under a credit sale contract. Credit sale contracts often are used to move grain when storage problems exist. They allow the grain price to be set at a later date. Under such contracts, you turn the title of the grain over to the elevator; thus, you need to have confidence in the elevator you select. These contracts are not guaranteed by the Iowa Indemnity Fund.

Store grain in an elevator under a warehouse receipt. Warehouse receipt fees are generally higher than credit sale contracts, but all payments are guaranteed under the Iowa Indemnity Fund. Farmers with warehouse receipts receive 90 percent protection up to $150,000.

Elevators have emergency approval from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to store grain under warehouse receipt contract outdoors this fall. Normally, warehouse receipt grain cannot be stored outside, but some elevators may take advantage of this emergency provision to ease storage and transportation concerns.

For more information about temporary grain storage, contact your county ISU Extension office or the following field extension agricultural engineers:

This article originally appeared on page 178 of the IC-480(23) -- October 12, 1998 issue.

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