Elevators scramble to keep from filling

Staff writer

Warm weather and dry conditions created a speedy harvest for Marion County farmers. Elevators in the area were struggling to keep up with harvest as it came in from the fields.

“Many of our customers are reporting 60-plus-bushel fields,” Lyman Adams, general manager of Cooperative Grain and Supply in Hillsboro, said. “If you can get 60 you’re having great yields. Many of our customers were reporting a yield higher into the 70s and said this was their best year ever. We have taken record receipts here, and in Marion and Canton.”

Adams said his location had its best day on record last Monday, taking in 175,000 bushels. Bins are capable of holding 920,000 bushels.Dale Klenda, Agri Producers Lincolnville elevator supervisor, said his location also broke records. In Marion County, more than 9,763,000 bushels were hauled into county elevators this harvest.

“We’ve taken in over a million bushels and still counting,” he said. “Our previous was somewhere around 850,000 bushels.”

To keep up with the massive influx of grain, elevators across the county were scrambling to find trucks to keep space in their bins.

“We were in the unique position to help keep other elevators from getting full, or to help farmers whose area elevators were already filled,” Adams said.

The co-op erected an outdoor bunker capable of holding 500,000 bushels of wheat and used it to store grain.

“According to my receipts we have 401,000 bushels or $3 million worth of wheat stored in the bunker,” Adams said.

This amount of wheat is capable of producing 20 million 1-pound loaves of bread.

“It was emergency storage so we could keep taking grain,” Adams said. “It’s not ideal because putting it on the ground is very labor intensive, but we have to do what we have to do to get the grain out of the fields.”

Lincolnville also has an outdoor grain area set up in case it has to put grain on the ground.

“We put down line screening with draining ditches below,” Klenda said. “We mostly use it in the fall but if we have to we have to.”

Because of a delayed harvest down south, elevators were having trouble locating trucks to keep elevators from filling.

“The semi fleet that usually follows harvest was stuck in Oklahoma because of weather delays,” he said. “It made for a situation where we had not enough trucks to keep grain away from the elevators. Farmers brought it in faster than we could truck it out.”

Adams said their other locations in Canton and Lehigh were constantly running on edge of being full. Agri Producers say their elevator in Durham was full for two hours. Stan Utting, general manager of Agri Producers in Tampa, said they were almost full but still taking grain. Phil Timken, manager of Mid-Kansas Co-op in Peabody said they were also close to being full more than once.

“The trucks came in the nick of time,” he said.

Manager of one elevator said they did not have the outdoor storage facilities of Hillsboro, and therefore would recommend other locations where farmers could dump.

“Now that harvest is basically over,” Adams said, “we can easier truck grain to other locations in the state.”

Timken predicts that 90 percent of farmers in Peabody and Hillsboro have finished cutting. Marion will see harvest continue for another two or three days according to Mike Thomas, Cooperative Grain and Supply Marion branch manager.

Adams said the fate of the wheat on the ground is up in the air. He has to get grain out of the bins before he can figure out where the grain can go.

“The next two weeks are critical,” he said. “If it rains we will need to figure out if we are going to tarp it or try and get it in the bins.”

An aeration system was set up under the pile to help water drain away. This allows the grain to be able to stay good and on the ground for an extended period. The outside layers of wheat will form a crust locking the majority of the grain inside and keeping it from being ruined. The biggest worry is not water, but bugs.

“Ideally we would like to have it gone in 2 months, but it may be next spring or fall until we are able to get it moved,” Adams said.

Klenda is looking to get his off the ground in Lincolnville sooner.

“Because we don’t have the permanent facility to store it on the ground, if we do put it down it won’t be down long, like less than a week,” Klenda said. “

Adams said most of the grain quality will remain high and can be sold for food production. The lower levels of grain will most likely be used for seed.

“Out west they pile up wheat on the ground more often,” Adams said. “In this area we are close enough to larger storage facilities that it usually gets trucked out faster than the farmers can bring it in.”

Adams said he doesn’t mind the wheat on the ground.

“During harvest you do whatever you have to do to get the grain in,” he said. “You don’t have to go very far west to get record low yields for farmers. We are fortunate here to have the amount of grain we do when it could have very easily been a different story.”

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