EAST LANSING, Mich. — For those farms expecting average to above average yields this year, the availability of storage may be a limiting factor. On the other hand, farms expecting lower yields may not have enough production to fill their current storage. These empty grain bins may present an opportunity for farms in need of additional storage. Additionally, if an area saw reduced production from 2019 due to delayed or prevented planting, there may be a significant amount of storage available.
Storage considerations for harvest efficiency and grain quality
Renting available storage from a neighboring farm can have important benefits and risks to consider. During the peak of harvest, the amount of time it takes to deliver grain to the elevator can be lengthy, reducing an operations ability to harvest grain during favorable weather windows. This can be a serious challenge during wet fall weather, especially for soybeans.
Rented bins need to be checked carefully for places where water can get into the bin. This is particularly important if the grain is to be stored for any length of time. In addition, insect infestations in the bin and under the aeration floor can lead to issues. Bins should be thoroughly checked and cleaned before grain is added. Finally, consider the aeration system capacity on the bins. If grain is dry at the time of harvest, there is less demand for air volume. Instead, the fan will most likely need to be used to cool the grain to ambient temperatures. However, if the grain placed in storage is higher in moisture level, there will need to be adequate air flow capacity. The added air will help keep the grain safe from mold in storage.
Where soybeans are concerned, look for opportunities to cool the grain when humidity levels are lower. Remember, as the harvest season progresses, there are fewer days with low enough relative humidity air to dry the crop with aeration. The Michigan State University Extension article “Using bin aeration to dry corn and soybeans with natural air” can help provide some insights into factors that can impact aeration drying in bins.
Storage rental rates
Renting storage from a neighboring farm also requires cost considerations from both parties. For the producer, a rental rate similar to on-farm or commercial storage is preferred. For the storage owner, they will want to be compensated for the cost of ownership at a minimum. The cost of ownership can include insurance, taxes, depreciation, interest and repairs.
The North Central Farm Management Extension Committee has developed a worksheet and example leases as resources for producers and storage owners. The same committee also published a rental rate survey providing ranges of the rental prices paid by producers.
Marketing opportunities of storing grain
Better market prices may be available to farms who utilize basis contracts and have the ability to store grain. The main question for your farm is: are you in a position to take advantage of these potential marketing opportunities? The answer to that question depends on market basis and your ability to store grain at an affordable cost. For more information on marketing opportunities related to grain storage, read the MSU Extension article “Is the market telling you to sell or store your grain?”
— Bruce MacKellar and Jonathan LaPorte, Michigan State University Extension
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