News Column

High yields cause storage worries

September 4, 2014

By Pat Shaver, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

Sept. 04--BLOOMINGTON -- With farmers in Central Illinois expecting a record year for grain yields, storage facilities are preparing to fill up fast.

The bumper crop likely will mean corn and soybeans will be stored outside in temporary staging areas, said John Hawkins, spokesman for the Illinois Farm Bureau.

The bumper crop also will lead more farmers to store a portion of their crops at home instead of at an elevator, he said.

"In a normal harvest, most farmers will have enough storage to handle about 75 percent of what they harvest, and they send the rest to the elevator. This year with the bigger harvest, they'll be lucky if they can store half on the farm and the other half at the elevator," Hawkins said.

U.S. corn growers are expected to produce a record-high 14 billion bushels, up 1 percent from 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture'sNational Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean producers are expected to produce a record 3.82 billion bushels in 2014, up 16 percent from last year, according to the USDA. Recent precipitation could mean a lengthy harvest because the time needed to dry crops.

Evergreen FS has about 12 million bushels of storage space across several locations. Yuton Elevator, one of the Evergreen FS elevators, has space for about 4.9 million bushels.

Almost all of their grain storage space is available, said Steve Dennis, grain department manager at Evergreen FS.

"There's no surprise that we have a potentially large crop out there. How much of a problem it will be remains unseen," Dennis said.

Yields are expected to reach 222 bushels per acre in McLean County, according to estimates. Hawkins said prices per bushel will likely be low, which leads farmers to hold their grain in storage until prices increase.

Corn is currently about $3.45 per bushel in McLean County.

"A lot of farmers will hold the crop until the spring if they don't have bills to pay. Most farmers just shut the bin door," he said.

Most farmers will harvest a portion of their crop, then take it to an elevator to try to beat the lines, Hawkins said.

"I think it will certainly fill the elevators, and I think there will be a fair amount of temporary storage out," Dennis said. "I think the system will be able to handle everybody's grain, but a lot of it depends on how the harvest flows."

A larger crop requires some patience, he said.

"As the grain industry, we've tried to prepare the best we can, but it's one of those things that you can't get too far ahead of yourself," Dennis said.

Evergreen FS also built a facility that added 220,000 additional bushels of storage this year, which will help, Dennis said.

If there is more grain than space, elevator managers often have to move grain around, said Keith Swigart, merchandising manager for Grainland Cooperative.

"We are trying to guess just like everybody else. If it is a little big, we're not in bad shape, but if it's huge, I think everybody has concerns about logistics and how fast it is going to come at us," Swigart said.

Grainland has about 20 million bushels of storage space at six locations in Central Illinois. The Minier facility can store about 5 million bushels, he said.

Most of the space is empty and ready for grain, Swigart said.

"Overall, I think we've probably got close to enough room for this. We've got a bunker for temporary storage we've used before and we're preparing that," he said.


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Source: Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL)

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