Storage Technology

NOTE: The dryer, the better! And don't wash your grain before storage!

moisture Meter: At every stage of the way, from deciding when to harvest to planning your storage, it is useful to know the exact water content of your grain. For example, insects can't reproduce in grain when its moisture content is below 10 percent. Any grain elevator can do moisture testing for you. Just hand-thresh about a gallon sample and take it in for testing. You can buy and use a moisture meter yourself, but they might be pricey. For sources, inquire from your seedsman.

sun drying: First, you need a day of full sun. Then spread your grain out thinly on some clean surface. A little grain can be dried on a tray, a lot on sheets of plastic or cloth. Stir it occasionally. Take the grain inside at night so it doesn't pick up moisture again from the dew. It will take at least 1 or 2 days to get it fully dried. Grain that is already contained in sacks can be further dried by leaving them outside in the sun and breeze even as long as a few weeks. Just leave the whole sacks in the sun, but not sitting right on the ground, and be sure to turn them once a day! Or dry in a dehydrator, oven, or homemade dryer. Damp grain tends to mold if sealed!

dehydrator: For small amounts of grain, spread your grain (already partially dried in the field) up to a half-inch deep on the dehydrator trays. Dry at 115°F 12-18 hours (longer if needed), stirring occasionally. grain Dryer: For large amounts you can buy a mechanical grain dryer or purchase the help of somebody who has one. The dryer is used after combining by forcing warm air through the pile of stored grain. It dries first where the air enters the pile and last where it leaves it. If you have grain in a big pile in a bin, check on it once in a while. If it's getting too hot in the middle, spread it out for more equal drying and cooling.

Storage Containers

Sacks. You can buy new gunnysacks at a feed-and-seed store or make your own. Don't use any sack that has held commercial seed grain; the grain may have been treated with mercury. Store sacks on end on a slatted floor in a dry room with plenty of air circulation. If dampness in the grain is any concern, turn the bags upside down after 2 days of storage, and again each week for the first month. Grain in cloth mesh bags will store more safely if the moisture content is a little higher than it should be for storage in a big bin. But it will naturally be like that from absorbing humidity from the air. Cans. The most pest-proof way to store grain is to shift it out of any paper or cloth containers into plastic or metal cans with tightfitting lids. For small quantities you can both move and store in 5-gal. cans with airtight lids. They are available in both metal and plastic. For large amounts you can use big garbage cans. Metal cans, over the years, will eventually get rust holes through which insects and moisture can enter. They will last longer if you avoid setting them directly on cement or dirt floors. So lay down wooden planks to put them on, or set them on wooden shelves. "Bin." For larger amounts yet, metal granaries are available. A "bin" means any storage room for grains, shelled corn, or dried beans or peas. A bin is tightly built of wood, concrete, or steel so the tiny kernels don't leak out and no moisture or rodents can get in. You can buy them in various sizes and styles, or make your own. But don't store grain in a bin until the moisture is 14 percent or less—down to 10 percent if possible. A "postripening process" occurs in freshly harvested, stored grain, during which both its moisture and temperature increase. With too much moisture and heat, mold starts to grow. At higher temperatures yet, the grain may be damaged and blackened from heat. The ultimate storage bin of modern times is the "grain elevator." These high towers have high-tech ventilating systems so they can hold a lot of grain, dry it as needed, and disperse surplus heat generated by the grain so there's no fire. (Once in a while, one burns anyway!)

NOTE: Don't store grains in a damp root cellar. Freezing doesn't hurt grains, so you can store in an unheated room or outbuilding, or on a porch (not in a garage).

Continue reading here: Fighting Pests in Grain

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