A Look at Trends in Grain Storage Capacity

Visible for miles, grain bins are often the most recognizable feature of a farm. Grain bins serve the important role of storing the annual harvest to be utilized throughout the upcoming year. In the U.S., two primary forms of grain storage occur; on-farm and off-farm storage.

For producers, on-farm grain storage can be helpful to their operation in several ways. Storage may improve harvest efficiency, provide the ability to dry grain, help capture higher cash basis later in the season, or create opportunities to market grain to local users of grain, such as ethanol plants, soybean processors, or livestock operations.

In recent years, an expansion in ethanol production and boom in farm incomes has created numerous local markets for corn (motivation) and the financial flexibility (opportunity) to invest in grain storage facilities. Did this spur an expansion in on-farm grain storage? To better understand these trends, we evaluated the USDA’s NASS database for annual grain storage capacities.