It's that time of year again- harvest time. It's also the time to examine your harvest process according to Ken Hellevang, Extension engineer at North Dakota State University. He has a few tips to make your system run smoother.

  • Create a flow chart showing capacities and times of each system part to reduce any bottlenecks or restrictions.
  • Examine harvesting rate, transportation time, conveying and drying rates. On-farm storage and drying may eliminate transportation and harvest inefficiencies.
  • Before building grain facilities, consider drainage, access, grain-handling options, electrical needs and future growth. Hellevang recommends that you select a contractor or supplier that provides prompt, reliable service.

    Check with others who have used the contractor or supplier. Put all specifications and agreements in writing and have it signed and dated.

    Include items such as having equipment installed according to manufacturer's specifications, expected equipment performance, completion date, payment procedure and a dispute resolution process.

  • There is no perfect drying method. Selection depends on grain type, climate during the drying period, drying rate, quantity to dry and energy costs. The advantages and disadvantages of each type must be evaluated in making your selection.

    Hellevang recommends considering features such as sensors and electronics that manage the dryer to obtain drying efficiency and maintain grain quality. New column dryers incorporate features such as grain-turners or tapered grain columns to minimize grain damage.

  • Consider dryeration and in-storage cooling when selecting a drying system. Dryeration increases drying capacity, since grain cooling and some moisture removal occurs in the dryeration bin.

    In addition to working with company representatives for assistance in selecting the most appropriate drying system, he recommends that you consult with university Extension representatives and Web sites.

  • Make sure to clean the bin and service the aeration system. Every grain-storage bin should have an aeration system for cooling the grain to limit the potential for mold growth and insect activity. Allowable storage time approximately doubles for each 10 F that the grain is cooled below 70 F, he says.

A couple of good resources for refining your harvest process that Hellevang recommends are: Grain Drying, Handling and Storage Handbook, MWPS-13, and The Dry Grain Aeration Systems Design Handbook, MWPS-29. You can order these from the MWPS Web site at or by calling (800) 562-3618.

Many universities have publications and other resources on aeration system design and management.

Good resources also are available at: