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Managing flooded grain bins

Grain bins exposed to flood waters are likely to have sustained damage, and you can expect some grain loss. However, it might be possible to repair bins to salvage at least part of the grain.

Water doesn’t wick very far in whole grain, so grain above the water line is likely still in good condition. It might even be possible to salvage grain that was submerged in flood waters, but you’ll need to act quickly to prevent spoilage.

What to do if your grain bin floods

The steps to salvage flood-damaged grain will depend on the extent of damage to both the bin and the grain. Here are the key steps:

  1. Inspect the bin, including unloading and aeration equipment, and the stored grain.

  2. Contact your insurance company or disaster relief agency as soon as possible to find out what you need to do to document losses.

Salvaging your grain


Bin damage: What to expect


Safety hazards

Possible safety hazards include:

  • Electrical short circuits.

  • Gas leaks.

  • Sudden rupture of weakened bins.

  • Entrapment in flowing grain.

  • Breathing dust and mold spores from damaged grain.

How to stay safe

  • Turn off gas valves and electrical power until you have a chance to clean, dry and inspect gas and electrical systems.

  • Work in pairs.

  • Stay out of flowing grain.

  • Wear a tight-fitting, high-quality dust mask or respirator that’s designed to filter mold spores and other toxic dusts when handling flood-damaged grain.

William Wilcke, emeritus Extension engineer

Reviewed in 2018

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