What Are the Best Ways to Store Grain in Winter?
Winter is on its way, and farmers need a place to store their harvested grains. Investing time and money into fields only to have rotten grain when spring comes isn’t sustainable, and it causes a significant loss for farmers who depend on production for a living.
Protecting a crop doesn’t stop after the harvest. Grain storage requires an ideal temperature and moisture level to stay fresh in any season of the year. However, storage protection may fail due to a lack of control over the temperature in a storage bin. This is a significant problem in North America, but it can also pose a threat to countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Here are the best ways to store grain in winter in the African and Middle Eastern regions of the world.
1. Plan storage in advance
Grain farmers should plan their winter storage well in advance. Depending on the storage container type, they may have to clean out bins and dispose of any leftover grain. However, farmers in developing countries tend to rely on other storage options such as granaries, mud rhombus, platforms, pots, baskets, gourds and bags.
The primary goals of grain storage during the winter season are to secure it from insects and rodents and prevent spoilage. Developing countries heavily rely on grains and other grain-like foods for nutrition, so having access to them year-round is essential for their sustainability and survival.
2. Dry to the right moisture
Farmers should dry grain out to the proper moisture content for winter storage. This content will vary depending on the climate and region. Some of the standard methods of drying out grain include solarization, open fireplace, and open-air or aerial storage. Solarization is more prevalent in developing countries because there is plenty of sunlight, and temperatures consistently reach 20 C to dry the grain and kill insects.
3. Ensure the storage area has aeration
Moisture can set into grains during winter, and too much can lead to spoilage. Whether farmers store their grains in the open or a concealed container, there should be aeration. Elevated storage options work well, and perforated ducts below the grain allow farmers to control the air intake and airflow to minimize condensation. Grains stored in the open air should be covered, though, to keep out the rain.
4. Choose the right storage methods
Again, there are multiple ways to store grain. Developed countries typically use a silo with added technology, which isn’t always available in other parts of the world. Traditional storage methods include aerial, open piles, platforms, cribs, gourds, pots, wall bins and underground storage. There have been some improvements and suggestions for improved short- and long-term storage to ensure communities have increased food security.
5. Frequently check the grain
A good practice is to frequently check on grain during winter. The key to successful grain storage is recording and evaluating the practices farmers put in place. They should record grain spoilage, why it happened and how to prevent it. Grain is an essential crop in developing countries, so farmers will lose money and livelihood if there is significant loss.
Farmers can evaluate for spoilage during a grain check, but they should also keep an eye out for pests. Infestations can do as much harm as spoilage. Check for odd smells or any eaten grains. Insects and pests may try to stay warm and stock up on food during the cooler months.
Ensuring Food Security Through Proper Grain Storage
There’s no single best way to store grain in winter. However, farmers can mitigate any losses by following the above best practices for grain storage. Planting and harvesting grains is a way of life for many farmers in developing countries, and with the right tools and techniques, they can continue to sustain their families and businesses.