It will be harvest time before you know it, so it’s not too early 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 smoothly.

  • Create a flow chart showing capacities and times of all systems 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 requirements, grain-handling options, electrical needs and future growth.
  • Focus on selecting a contractor or supplier that provides prompt, reliable service. Check references 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. You have to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages in making your selection. Hellevang recommends reviewing features such as sensors and electronics that manage the dryer to improve 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 system. Dryeration increases the drying capacity, since grain cooling and some moisture removal occurs in the dryeration bin. Company representatives, Extension specialists, fellow producers and a scan of related Web sites can assist you in selecting an appropriate drying system.
  • Make sure to clean the bin and service the aeration system. Every grain-storage bin should have an aeration system to cool the grain and 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, says Hellevang.

He recommends these resources to help refine your harvest process: Grain Drying, Handling and Storage Handbook, MWPS-13, and The Dry Grain Aeration Systems Design Handbook, MWPS-29. You can order these from the Midwest Planning Service Web site at or by calling (800) 562-3618.

Many universities have publications and other resources that address aeration-system design and management. Additional resources are available at: