High prices have lured farmers across Alabama into growing wheat this year — with acreage reaching a 27-year high. With the increased acreage comes a greater interest in storing grain on-farm to save time during harvest and to lock in the best sales price.

Professionals with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System agree this could be a profitable strategy if farmers take steps to maintain grain quality and handle grain safely.

Kathy Flanders, an Extension entomologist, says not paying attention to these basics could exact a heavy toll, both in terms of farmers’ financial bottom lines and even their personal safety.

“Some have never stored grain before, and for others it’s been a long time,” says Flanders, who adds that growers may not be aware of or may have forgotten the potentially destructive power of insects.

To help ensure farmers are familiar with the best practices for storing grain, Extension and the Alabama Wheat and Feed Grain Check-Off Committee are conducting a stored grain workshop on Thursday, May 15 at Auburn University’s Black Belt Substation and a nearby farm.

More information on the workshop can be found at http://www.aces.edu/dept/grain/documents/WestAlabamaStoredGrainPestManag.... Interested producers can also contact Rudy Yates, a regional Extension agronomy agent, at (334) 295-5959 or (334) 422-1135 or at yatesrp@aces.edu.

Doug Trantham, a Calhoun County farmer, says preparing the grain bin before filling and proper attention to the grain while it is in storage are crucial.

 “You can put in $8 or $9 dollar a bushel wheat in June and if you have not done things correctly, you will be pulling out $2 a bushel feed wheat by the end of the summer,” says Trantham.

Brian Glenn, chair of the Alabama Farmers’ Federation Wheat and Stored Grain Commodity Group, agrees with Trantham.

“I used to say a full grain bin was like money in the bank. But it’s not. Money doesn’t deteriorate in a bank, but grain will.”

Flanders says the hot, humid summers of the Deep South are particularly challenging to storing grain.

“Southern grain bins are especially prone to insect infiltration and molds — the reason why farmers should make every effort to stop them dead in their tracks while bins are still empty,” she says.

Both men agree with Flanders that the first crucial step to storing grain is to correctly prepare the bin before adding the wheat or other grain.

“We have to be especially careful down here and use all the tools available to make sure the grain is the same quality coming out of the bin as when it goes in,” Flanders says.