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What to look for when buying grain bins

Odds are that if you haven’t already purchased at least one new grain bin for next fall, you’ve shopped and priced. And if you haven’t shopped and priced, you have at least thought about if you should add to your grain handling system before the 2010 harvest.

The worst harvest season in more than three decades has grain bin manufacturers scrambling to meet demand. And it has sales reps working overtime to answer questions and make sure each potential customer understands the features of their particular product.

Key Points

• A number of companies offer grain bins in varying sizes.

• Consider quality as well as price while shopping.

• Pinpoint when you could get delivery on your bin.


This article includes a simple shopping guide that may help you with your search. The list may not be all-inclusive, but no one was purposely omitted. This isn’t a “what’s new” rundown. Instead, it’s a snapshot of what each company offers and why they think you should look at their bins. The most helpful part may be the contact information so you can find local dealers and follow up.

Common denominators

Here are a few common points gleaned from visiting with sales staff and manufacturing representatives from various companies. You may want to consider asking questions about these points.

Understand the lingo. Know what wide spacing vs. narrow spacing means before you shop. Basically, bin sides with narrower rings are touted to stand up better to strong wind situations, but those with wider spacing may have more strength when filled with grain.

“One and only” may not be the “one and only.” Several companies claimed to be the only one in the industry who used four panels to each roof sheet instead of three for extra strength, for example. It likely has everything to do with keeping up with their product vs. the competition and little or nothing to do with purposeful deception.

Pin down price options. Pricing bins becomes a nightmare because there are so many possible add-ons. Some companies price bins per bushel erected. You need to add the cost of concrete, electricity and perhaps labor in some cases. Know what you’re getting for the bid price.

Who sells add-ons? If you want to add catwalks, bigger fans, unloading equipment and much more, can you deal with the same company that’s selling the bin, or must you deal with another shortline manufacturer? Who actually makes these extras? “We work with sister companies who can provide bin ladders, unloading augers and heaters,” says Kevin Trapp, grain storage product manager for MFS/York/Stormor, Grand Island, Neb. “You need to think about some of these things, such as how you’re going to unload the grain, as you’re planning your bin purchase.”

When can you get delivery? Every company says it intends to honor every sale and deliver the equipment for this harvest. However, some outsiders looking at the industry wonder if at some point you’ll actually be buying for 2011 installation, not 2010. However, don’t rely on a competitor’s claim that another company may not be able to deliver on time. Instead, be sure you communicate when you need the bin, and ask if the company you’re negotiating with is sure they can deliver it in time.

More grain bin options

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IMPROVED WARRANTY: Sioux, one of the oldest names in grain bins, now offers a 10-year warranty. Hal Truax, sales rep for Sioux bins, sells these products on the basis that they are made of high-quality steel that makes for a strong bin. The 4-inch corrugation makes for straighter sides. Sioux bins can go as large as a million bushels. Contact Sioux Steel Co., Sioux Falls, S.D., at 800-557-4689, or www.siouxsteel.com.

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COMPETITIVE BINS: CMC advertises its unique no-heat drying system, but the company also manufactures grain bins for any purpose. Most farmers who consider their bins also are interested in the trademarked Pressure Cure system, CMS representatives say. Learn more about CMC, West Fargo, N.D., at 800-359-1785 or www.custommarketingco.com.

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PLAN AHEAD: Kevin Trapp, MFS/York/Stormor, says it pays to think about how you will unload grain from the bin before making final purchase decisions.

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HUGE SIZE RANGE: You can build a 1,200-bushel Sukup bin, or a 135-foot-diameter bin to store 1.2 million bushels. Company representatives claim it’s the largest free-standing bin in the world. Meanwhile, features include the ability to support a strong roof load and heavy-duty floor options for small grains. Contact Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield, Iowa, 641-892-4222, or www.sukup.com.

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SIX MODELS: The narrow corrugation and strong roof are touted as pluses for Conrad American bins. They’re available in six models, and you can choose a roof slanted at either a 30-degree or 35-degree angle. There are four panels per each sheet of roofing for extra strength. Bins are priced by the bushel just for the bin itself. Contact Conrad American, Houghton Iowa, or Grand Island, Neb., 319-469-4111 or 308-382-7207; www.conradamerican.com.

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NORTH DAKOTA TOUGH: If you build bins in North Dakota, you build them to withstand 100-mile-per-hour winds. Or at least Superior Inc. does. Its bins also feature up to an 8,000-pound roof rating. Based on gauge of steel, company representatives believe Superior is the strongest bin on the market. Contact Superior Inc., Kindred, N.D., 800-822-9145, www.superiorincnd.com.

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MORE GALVANIZATION: The sales staff doesn’t hesitate when you ask why you should consider a Titan bin by Chief. They claim superior galvanization, with up to 25% more than competitive bins. Because of their design, Titan bins also hold slightly more bushels at the same rated diameter than competitive bins. Contact Chief Agri/Industrial Division, Kearney, Neb., 800-359-7600, www.agri.chiefind.com.

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QUALITY SELLS: Brock Bins representatives say they rely on quality and features to sell their bins. Bin roofs feature four panels to each sheet, and bin floors are completely flat, with a third leg for support in the middle. To design a system, Brock recommends figuring what size you need, then adding features to accomplish your goals. Contact Brock Grain Systems, Milford, Ind., 574-658-4191, www.brockgrain.com.

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WIDE LIST OF OPTIONS: Sit down with a GSI catalog and salesman, or pore over the GSI Web site, and put together literally hundreds of combinations of bins with various features. Start with the fact that GSI offers either 2.60-inch narrow or 4.0-inch wide corrugation for bin sides. GSI also claims to be the only company that offers 5- and 6-gauge steel sidewalls. Contact GSI, Assumption, Ill., 217-226-4421, www.gsiag.com.

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CHOOSE FLOOR STRENGTH: Pick the type of grain bin floor you want with bins from MFS/York/Stormor. Floors in 20-, 18- and 16-gauge steel are available. Global Industries, Grand Island, Neb., offers bins ranging from 15 to 105 feet in diameter. Bin sides use narrow-spaced corrugation to offer greater strength in high winds. Contact the company at 308-384-9320, or visit www.mfsyork.com.

This article published in the April, 2010 edition of MID-SOUTH FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.