Meeting Your Temporary Storage Needs

Solutions include modifying existing farm buildings to store grain or storing grain outside. Compiled by staff

Published on: Oct 5, 2004

This year’s bin-buster harvest is making the use of temporary grain storage a critical issue for the farming community.

While increased yield is a welcome problem for most producers, it is important for producers to think through options for temporary storage, says Jay Solomon, University of Illinois Extension educator. The two most common solutions are modifying existing farm buildings to store grain, or storing grain outside.

In an existing building, Solomon says it is important to start with a solid surface that can be kept clean and dry. That means there should be no chemicals or oils on the floor that could cause contamination or odor and no moisture that could migrate up into the grain. Also, because most farm buildings are not designed to withstand the loading that grain exerts on the wall, it’s important to prepare the building correctly and not overload it. For more about this, click HERE

Making moisture considerations

Aeration is another important factor in temporary grain storage, Solomon says. Moisture content and grain temperature determine whether grain should be stored with or without aeration. If moisture content is less than 15%, grain can be held in storage for extended periods of time without aeration. At 16%, corn held at a constant temperature of 50 degrees F with aeration can be stored for six months.

For every point of moisture above 16%, the shelf life of corn decreases by about one month. For every 10-degree increase in temperature, the shelf life decreases by about half. "Holding Wet Corn with Aeration," a guide from the University of Nebraska, offers a chart showing the shelf life of grain over a range of moisture contents and temperatures. It can be found by clicking HERE

Prevent condensation when storing outside

If grain is to be stored outside, Solomon recommends cooling the grain prior to piling to reduce condensation problems. Because drainage is crucial, place grain on high ground, preferably on a limestone or concrete pad. Grain can also be stored directly on the ground if plastic is put down to keep soil moisture from migrating up into the grain.

Portable bulkheads, which can be built or purchased, or concrete bumpers, can be used for sidewalls. Cover the grain pile with plastic or a tarp to minimize damage from rain, snow, wind and birds.

Because condensation under the tarp can cause problems, one conventional practice uses a hoop structure to keep space between the plastic and the grain to reduce condensation and carry moisture away. Aeration ducts, properly sized and spaced, can be used to blow air through the grain.

Whether storing grain inside or out, "a good rule of thumb is to put the cleanest grain into temporary storage," says Solomon, "because it has fewer insects and less weed seeds. It’s just easier to keep clean grain in good condition."

Finally, he adds, the grain placed in temporary storage should be the last in and the first out. "Fill all your other options before you go to temporary storage," he says. "Then, when you start moving things back out, empty the grain in temporary storage before you start on the permanent."

For more information on temporary grain storage, Purdue has compiled a list of links to a number of state publications on temporary storage alternatives. That list can be found at