9.2 Million Pounds of Barley

Another exciting week at Skagit Valley Malting! We just completed building two more silos at our grainery, adding 700 more tons to our total storage capacity. We now have four 850 ton silos and two 350 ton silos, plus an additional million pounds of grain in totes for a total capacity of 9.2 million pounds of barley.

We take grain storage very seriously at SVM, quality malt is first determined by the quality of raw grain. Before barley is brought to our grainery we have strict requirements to determine its quality. Part of our quality control takes place before harvest but we continue to monitor the barley especially before we clean, sort and malt it. We look for:

  • Germination Energy

  • Molds and Bacteria

  • Sprouted Barley

  • Damaged Kernels

  • Foreign Material and Other Seeds

  • Immature Kernels

  • Fungus

  • Insects

When grain comes in from the fields we store it by year and by the variety and using humidity controlled silos allows us to maintain malting quality for the duration of the grains storage.

In the Skagit Valley, the majority of barley was grown as a rotation crop and when it was worth it sold for animal feed. However, barley grown for malting requires more attention and different storage solutions in order to maintain malting quality. Because there was no infrastructure in the Valley for storing malting quality barley we built our own and we will continue to grow our storage capacity as we explore different varieties and produce more malt.

We currently work with four main varieties of barley and as we continue to grow more of these varieties larger storage capacity is vital to maintaining the quality of our barley. With these larger silos, we can increase the storage of our core varieties but we will also clear up more space for storage of new varieties and new grains we plan to work within the future.

How is a silo constructed?

The first step is to set a foundation for the silo, a big concrete platform that can support 400 tons of grain. Once the foundation is prepared, the construction crew shows up and gets to work assembling the mass of steel panels that will eventually form the silo. They start by putting the first ring on, which will be the very top ring, then they assemble the roof. Now that the top of the silo is assembled, the crew sets a series of jacks all around the inside of the ring. They then begin to jack the roof up until they can add another ring. The crew then shifts the supports and jack down a layer and repeat this process six times until the silo is erected. The last steps are to put in the false bottom that allows us to control moisture by pumping air through the grain, the false bottom is also how we remove grain for cleaning and then malting.