Tips for drying, storing grain

Tips for drying, storing grain On-farm storage and drying may eliminate transportation and harvest inefficiencies, a South Dakota State University specialist said.

But SDSU Extension Machinery Engineer Dick Nicolai added that it takes time to install additional storage or drying capacity. Before building grain facilities, producers should consider drainage, access, grain-handling options, electrical needs and future growth.

Nicolai recommends that producers select a contractor or supplier that provides prompt, reliable service.

"Check with others who have used the contractor or supplier. Put all specifications and agreements in writing and have it signed and dated. Include items such as having equipment installed according to manufacturer's specifications, expected equipment performance, completion date, payment procedure and a dispute resolution process."

Detailed plans and specifications reduce the potential for problems, he said.

Choosing the drying method depends on grain type, climate, drying rate, quantity of grain and energy costs, Nicolai said. Nicolai recommends considering features such as sensors and electronics that manage the dryer to obtain drying efficiency and maintain grain quality.

New column dryers incorporate features such as grain-turners or tapered grain columns to minimize grain damage.

Nicolai said dryeration and in-storage cooling should be considered when selecting a drying system. Dryeration increases drying capacity, since grain cooling and some moisture removal occurs in the dryeration bin.

In addition to working with company representatives for assistance in selecting the most appropriate drying system, he recommends producers consult with university Extension representatives and Web sites.

A good resource on storage and drying systems is the publication Grain Drying, Handling and Storage Handbook, MWPS-13.

It is available from MidWest Plan Service, an educational effort of land-grant universities in the North Central Region, with headquarters at Iowa State University. Order this and other books about grain handling from their Web site at, or by calling 800-562-3618.

Nicolai also recommends The Dry Grain Aeration Systems Design Handbook, MWPS-29, a resource that provides selection and sizing recommendations for the components of an aeration system.

"Every grain storage bin should have an aeration system for cooling the grain to limit the potential for mold growth and insect activity. Allowable storage time approximately doubles for each 10 degrees that the grain is cooled below 70 degrees," Nicolai said.

For more information Nicolai recommends the Grain Drying, Handling and Storage site from North Dakota State University,; the Post Harvest Grain Quality & Stored Product Protection Program at Purdue University,; and the Post Harvest Handling of Crops site at the University of Minnesota

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