Sukup Manufacturing has designed a bin capable of holding 2.2 million bushels of grain
By Diego Flammini
A grain bin manufacturer has broken ground on what will be the world’s largest grain bin.
Sukup Manufacturing of Sheffield, Iowa, broke ground on Sept. 14 on a grain bin that, when completed, will have a diameter of 165 feet, a peak height of 155 feet and seven inches and 30 rings.
These measurements will make the bin the biggest free-span bin in the world. Free span means the roof goes from wall to wall without any interior columns or pillars.
Construction is expected to be finished by May or June 2021. At full capacity, the bin will be able to hold an astonishing 2.2 million bushels of grain.
For context, farmers in Arizona produced 3.3 million bushels of corn in 2018, the USDA reported.
“It’s an enormous bin and it’ll have a 100,000-pound peak load rating,” John Hanig, bin sales director with Sukup, told Farms.com. “We’re happy and proud that we’re able to do it.”
Crews are constructing the bin at Golden Grain Energy, an ethanol plant in Mason City, Iowa.
The plant currently has about 1.275 million bushels of grain storage, good enough for about 10 days of operations. The new bin will increase storage to almost 3.5 million bushels, which can get the plant through 30 days of work.
The bin will also increase the plant’s receiving capacity from 40,000 to 65,000 bushels per hour.
Officials at Golden Grain Energy wanted more storage to ensure the plant has enough to keep working even during slow periods.
“If a holiday week is coming and (drivers) aren’t bringing grain, they might run out,” Hanig said. “And instead of having multiple bins, you’ve got one large one so there’s no risk of running out and no need for someone to switch things over to a different bin during the day.”
Storage structures of this size are a testament to U.S. producers.
Farmers continue to increase yields, and other agri-businesses need to be able to accommodate that hard work, Hanig said.
“Farmers are reaching 300-bushels-per-acre yields, and with technology increasing, some producers are producing 500 bushels per acre,” he said. “That means on-farm storage and even commercial elevators are going to have to get bigger to have the capacity to store these harvests.”
And since news of the grain bin has started to spread, customers have been calling Sukup.
“We’ve had some calls come in for more grain bins of this size,” Hanig said. “Nobody has asked for anything bigger. Yet.”
This newest grain bin isn’t the only time Sukup has manufactured and designed the world’s largest free-span grain bin.
In 2018, the company designed bins with diameters of 156 feet and 29 rings. Each bin, built at Elite Octane in Atlantic, Iowa, can hold about 2 million bushels of grain.
The world’s tallest grain silo is in Switzerland.
The Swissmill Tower in Zurich stands 387 feet tall and can hold up to 38,580 tons of grain, Guinness World Records says. Construction started in 2013 and ended in 2016.
Sukup Manufacturing photo