Preparing for Winter: Experts provide tips for grain storage, winterizing equipment

A farm business management instructor from northwest Minnesota is advising that farmers need to have a marketing plan in place for both their stored grain and oilseeds.

When it comes to wintertime, producers have a lot of decisions to make about leftover unpriced commodities. It is also the time to store farming equipment. Experts provide some tips for both of those tasks.

Building a Timeline for Stored Grain

Minnesota Farm Business Management Instructor Betsy Jensen says that farmers with unpriced commodities need to have a plan in place this winter -- and not just price targets, but a timeline. As it is risky to hold grain until June.

According to Jensen, who farms with her family in Northwest Minnesota and works at Northland Community and Technical College -- soybeans might be a good crop to prioritize in the New Year with futures sitting at a respectable $13.

Winterizing Farming Equipment

Another thing for producers to tackle this time of year is storing equipment for the season. Ziegler Ag Equipment After-Sales and Product Support Manager Pat McCulley has advice on the proper way to do that.

“Winterization is two-fold for any fall-use machines; it’s certainly something to make sure any of the grain is out, or any dirt or crop remnants are cleaned from the machine<” McCulley said. “Blowing it out, if preferable, first. Some other things for winterization on a new machine that may be new to them would be certainly to look at their operator’s manual and understand if there’s any specific check they may not be aware of or understand to be able to get it into its first winter in that customer’s possession. It does save you time in the long run by identifying and seeing those issues that may exist before putting it away for the year, especially if that’s in a cold storage shed where it’s the last thing that is used for the year and the first thing that goes into the shed to restock everything else. The long-term approach is that it’ll run better and last longer.”

McCulley went on to give some of his tips for keeping equipment in top shape this winter.

“Indoors is better -- UV protection -- whether it’s paint or tires or tracks, storing it under a roof is certainly ideal,” he said. “If it’s a temperature-controlled environment, that’s another benefit. The ecms, or the electronic control modules on these machines nowadays, all use a little bit of power when they’re all turned off. Some machines have battery disconnect switches which would be good to be able to disconnect the battery from those kinds of slow drain - some call it a vampire effect - it slowly drains the battery down. Having a battery tender, a small trickle charger onto the machine helps the battery life of the unit. Sensitive electronics, specifically those that you can remove from the machine easily or a third-party display, things like that, and touchscreens, they’re really sensitive to cold weather, and i would suggest you get those out of machines and put them in a temperature-controlled environment.”

McCulley also said that if repairs are needed, now might be the best time to take care of those as opposed to putting them off until closer to spring.

Marion is a digital content manager for RFD-TV and The Cowboy Channel. She started working for Rural Media Group in May 2022, bringing a decade of experience in the digital side of broadcast media as well as some professional cooking experience to the team.
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