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Released: June 02, 2005

K-State’s Harner Lists Top 10 Grain Storage Tips

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Insects and molds can be a concern for elevator managers and producers with on-farm storage each year. After all, managers are responsible for approximately $3 billion worth of grain during bumper crop years, when their storage facilities are at maximum capacity, said Joe Harner Extension Engineer for Grain and Livestock Systems at Kansas State University.

“Those responsible for managing stored grain should take their investment management job as seriously as a banker,” Harner said.

He estimated that insects and mold create a loss of 10 cents per bushel across the country. In Kansas, where storage capacity exceeds one billion bushels, that is an annual loss of $100 million, or about $40 per Kansan.

There are ways, however, to prevent this type of loss in on-farm and commercial grain storage. Harner provided his top 10 grain storage management tips:

1. Make sure facilities are cleaned inside and outside. Any place an insect can live must be cleaned. Places where physical cleaning is not possible must be cleaned using chemicals.

2. Cool grain as quickly as possible. The recommended temperature of cooled grain is 70 degrees F in warmer months and 35 to 40 F in cooler months.

3. Be aware of incoming moisture and remember that aeration fans are not intended to dry grain, but to cool it. High moisture grain entering storage can create problems.

4. Adjust harvesting and handling equipment to decrease the amount of broken kernels and unwanted material. The more broken kernels, the more surface area exposed for insects to nibble. Equipment, excessive handling, or dry grain are the three leading causes of broken kernels.

5. Clean grain is important. Weedy material usually has a higher moisture content than grain and may accumulate in isolated pockets which can interfere with aeration, making areas more difficult to cool.

6. Monitor the temperature, moisture and odor of stored grain with scheduled inspection times. Inspection should be every two weeks once grain and outdoor air temperatures are above 45 F.

7. Pay attention and be observant because most problems can be fixed early. While odor is a good indicator of grain spoilage, moisture may be another good indicator. Slimy grain and drip spots on the underside of a roof are indications of too much moisture.

8. Safety first. Safety should be first and foremost on the minds of everyone working near grain storage facilities. Use caution and follow all guidelines when using chemicals. For safety reasons, have at least two people present when sampling grain bins.

9. Have a marketing plan and use it to help develop a management strategy to maintain stored grain quality. During warmer weather months it may be necessary to re-warm the grain to prevent moisture migration due to temperature differences within a grain bin.

10. Be prepared to make quick decisions about grain storage problems once they are detected. To prevent further damage of stored grain that is heating, it should be cooled, turned or marketed as soon as possible.

For more information on grain storage, interested persons can visit any K-State Research and Extension county or district office or check K-State Research and Extension on the World Wide Web at  and search for “grain storage.”


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by:
Leah Bond
K-State Research& Extension News

Additional Information:
Joe Harner is at 785-532-2930