Record crops and transportation bottlenecks are straining the nation’s grain storage system in ways it hasn’t seen in nearly a decade. That adds up to a lot of grain with nowhere to go and is hitting farmers through the double whammy of low grain prices and wide basis. The problem is particularly acute in the northwestern fringe of the Corn Belt, but not content to quietly accept their fate, producers like Randy Fleishauer have taken action.
“I could see the handwriting on the wall this summer. The elevators were full up and couldn’t take any more,” says Fleishauer, who grows wheat, milo and field peas on Gunsmoke Farms near Ft. Pierre, S.D. “I had room for 750,000 bushels of wheat, but another 800,000 to 1 million bushels that had to go somewhere.” he says.
The solution he settled on: a grain bagging system that has given him a low-cost home for 1 million bushels of grain. “They work great. I had 21 combines running with two baggers.” Costs per bushel are in the seven cent range, excluding the bagger, unloader and other long-term investment costs.
“Is grain going to be stored on the ground, yes,” says Frayne Olson, ag economist at North Dakota State University. “It will be tight, it’s going to be close,” he says on whether North Dakota has sufficient storage for crops that are turning out to be bigger than earlier anticipated. This same story different verse is playing throughout the heartland this harvest. On paper, North Dakota storage capacity of 1.3 billion bushels (both on-farm and off-farm) will be nearly equal to expected harvest, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be localized problems…
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