Brian Olson, Kansas State University Extension agronomist in Colby, says growers have had good experiences with the plastic storage bag systems. “It saves on time, especially in 2009, when we had periods of rain during harvest and had only a few days to get something done,” says Olson. “Time was of the essence.”

He adds that “farmers need to make sure they keep the bags sealed. If any moisture gets in, it will hurt the quality.”

Cost of a typical grain bagger system will likely run from $50,000 to $70,000 for both the bagging and unloading system. Bags, which are not reusable, are available in 10,000- to 12,000-bu. capacity. Cost about 7¢/bu. of capacity, or about $700-850, depending on bag size.

Joel McClure bought his bagging system for about $70,000, plus the charge for bags. Brother Ben rents the system from his brother but buys his own bags. “Paying 7¢/bu. for storage capacity is certainly cheaper than paying about $1/bu. for a metal storage bin,” he says.

Olson notes that there were some USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) insurance-eligibility questions regarding grain stored in bags. “There was concern at RMA that the grain was not being stored in an approved manner,” he says. “But those issues have been resolved.”

Officials of the RMA in Topeka, KS, say procedures were recently updated and insured producers can store grain in bags without affecting their coverage. But they encourage producers to alert their authorized insurance agents that they are using the bagging systems to help prevent any confusion.

Joel says corn or other grain should not be blended in a bag. Ben, however, has a situation in which he can blend grain from the bags with other grain stored in neighboring metal bins. His storage bags are situated within a few hundred yards of the storage bins. If moisture is different in the bag than in a bin, it can be blended with the bin-stored grain. “We have scales for accurate inventory accounting,” says Ben.

“There are many advantages of using these types of bagging systems,” concludes Joel. “I see them being part of our corn, milo and wheat storage for a long time.”

December 2010