Grain storage bags

Friday, October 24, 2014

The 2014 crop is producing a bumper crop. A record corn crop, rail transportation delays, long lines at elevators, and low commodity prices are resulting in a need for alternative storage solutions and a way to expedite harvest.

One storage solution that has been around for a while is grain storage bags. Bags measure up to 12 feet in diameter and 328 feet in length, depending on manufacturer and most range in capacity from 8,000 to 12,000 bushels. Prices range between $600 and $900 per bag, with an overall average cost of $0.07 per bushel. This cost is considerable less expensive than commercial storage and much less than erecting permanent storage that may not get used each harvest. The cost of the necessary equipment to load and unload the bags can cost up to $40,000 dollars. If the bags are going to be used continually, purchasing the equipment may be necessary. If the bags will be used less regularly, renting the filling and unloading equipment would be more economical.

According to Klein Ileleji, a grain post-harvest technology expert at Purdue University, indicates that these bags require careful site preparation, regular monitoring for moisture and temperature, and special tools for loading and unloading.

1. Position the bags away from tree ad fence lines -- Hungry animals are a major threat to bag silos and like to lurk in areas with convenient cover. A hungry, determined deer, dog or raccoon easily tear through a bag in search of food.

2. Keep the site clean -- Animals looking for a free meal will be attracted by grain littering the ground around bag silos. Remove any spilled grain and cut back brush to create a clear perimeter around bags.

3. Make sure the site is dry and well drained -- Moisture is the enemy of stored crops. The bags are hermetically sealed but they can leak, especially if there are tears or punctures in the flexible plastic lining or if the bags are placed on wet ground. Check bags frequently for damage to the plastic cover. Manufacturers offer special adhesive tape to patch holes.

4. Make sure the crop is dry before storing in bags -- The bags cannot be aerated, so the grain leaves the bag at the same moisture level that it entered.

5. Know the bag's limit -- Because the bags are relatively narrow, the temperature of the grain generally rises and falls with outside temperatures. Most manufacturers do not recommend storing grain past March. In addition to the seasonal warm-up, the springtime freezing and thawing of precipitation on top of the bags can also lead to water seepage and spoilage.

6. Check the stored crop regularly for moisture content -- This is especially important if the weather turns rainy or snowy or there are long warm spells. Since the bags are not ventilated, there is no way to circulate air to prevent moisture buildup in the grain.