From Across the Field – Storage Woes

It is like Mother Nature passed a highway patrolman, hit the brakes and geared down temperatures from above 70 to 35 degrees in a real hurry. By in large, the change in temperature will not affect crop yield but will slow the rate of in field drying until we get a hard killing frost. Harvesting higher moisture grain requires more on farm drying capacity and storage, which may be at a premium.

On-farm storage will be a huge advantage this year with low commodity prices. Producers who have the capacity to store grain, especially soybeans may consider waiting to sell at higher prices. Even if Washington and Beijing come to an agreement on the trade dispute today, low soybean prices are expected to persist for several weeks or months. US soybeans have literally missed the boat since most cargo ships are booked until spring limiting the volume of export. That means that we have a glut of soybeans already in inventory and with an expected relatively high yields, our storage space will be pushed to the limits and keep prices low.

Storage space will also be at a premium for corn. After a good crop year nationwide in 2017, and stubbornly low prices, many farms still have corn in inventory taking up storage space. As corn harvest began in west-central counties of Ohio, the mix of old corn and new corn being sold caused some problems for ethanol plants because it is treated differently in the ethanol production process. So Ohio farmers have new grain coming in, but they need to sell old grain to make room. Purchasing and erecting grain bins may not be economically or practically feasible at this time of year, but you may want to consider adding or increasing grain storage on your farm as a long term investment. This approach may not be appropriate for all operations, but OSU Extension has resources to help you determine if that is an economically viable option.

There have been a few farmers across the region talking about how they can temporarily store their grain, and storing it in a shop or outbuilding being the most common proposals. This can be done, and has been done for years, but proper care must be used to prevent an accident or spoilage. Remember that shop walls were not designed to be a container, and the weight of piled grain against a wall may cause a structural failure. You may be able to consult the manufacturer of the building for engineering details, but in most cases whoever erected the pole barn won’t have those details. North Dakota State Extension has a “Temporary Grain Storage” document online that may be of help to you get started on determining what loads you can safely store in your buildings and how to reinforce your current buildings.

Finally, it is pumpkin time and pumpkins will store for a long time if cured after harvesting.  Cure pumpkins at 80-85 degrees with humidity for 10 days. Then store them at 50-60 degrees with humidity of 50-60 %. Keep the skin dry where there is good air circulation and they can keep for two to four months.

I’ll end this week with a quote from, Immanuel Kant: “Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. “Have a great week and be on the lookout for harvest equipment on the roads. Go Bucks!


Garth Ruff,

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator

OSU Henry County Extension

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