Destructive winds across the region in May wreaked havoc on grain storage tanks, prompting problems for people to store grain during the harvest season.
“I’m worried about the fall,” said Jim Hlatky, general manager of the Pro-Ag Farmers’ Cooperative in Parkers Prairie, whose Eagle Bend site was directly impacted by the Memorial Day storm.”Recovering equipment and litter boxes in such a short period of time is nearly impossible.”
Pro-Ag has multiple locations, and a Memorial Day tornado destroyed every dumpster at its Eagle Bend site.It also lost grain conveyors, and Hlatky said he was looking for other places for farmers to carry grain at harvest.
Two other Pro-Ag sites suffered severe damage during the May 12 storm.He said a small granary at the Hoffman plant was destroyed, a medium granary needed repairs and some conveyor belts were missing.The elevator legs at its Clarissa fertilizer plant are bent and will have to be removed.
Agricultural experts stress that every year bins are lost across the country, and while the damage may cause headaches for locals, it is far from affecting the harvest, storage and transportation of the entire grain.All farmers are more concerned about fuel costs, although the lost granaries in the area may have some local impacts.For example, farmers in Douglas County may see longer wait times as local elevator demand increases.
The grain storage industry is hampered by steel shortages, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.While wind can and does damage grain bins, especially when they’re empty, Kevin Johnson, president of Fargo Gateway Building Systems, said he’s never seen the level of damage caused by storms last month.
“It was one of the worst years I’ve ever seen,” Johnson said.”It’s probably four times as bad as I’ve ever seen.”
Johnson said he has 70 bins in stock, 60 more in transit, and five crews repairing and replacing bins, though they tend to be smaller than elevators like Pro-Ag require.The damage from Pro-Ag was so great that Hlatky was looking elsewhere for farmers to carry the grain at harvest.
Douglas County farms were largely unscathed, said Adam Johnson, president of the Douglas County Corn and Soybean Growers Association.However, the counties around it did lose grain storage, which could lead to more grain trucks lining up by elevators serving Douglas County farmers.
Manager Kevin Stein said Elbow Lake Co-op Grain Company lost a smaller bin.He said it was damaged in a May 12 storm and was blown away by the Memorial Day winds.
“There are a lot of bins being damaged across the country, so there may not be enough bins for everyone,” he said.He added that he thought his co-op could replace the bins before harvest, but they would function well even without it.They can store 6 million bushels, while the destroyed litter box can hold 125,000 bushels.Still, he said, given all the storage losses across the region, some farmers may have to consider grain bagging systems.
“A lot of things are happening very fast, and a lot of people haven’t figured out what they want to do,” he said.
Hratki said the pressure on other elevators will depend on this year’s harvest.A wet spring may prevent corn planting, which will reduce storage needs in the fall.However, higher grain prices could also push farmers to plant as much as possible.
His Eagle Bend customers may eventually bring their grains to Parkes Prairie.Or, he said, ProAg might pay them a small premium to store the grain on their farm.
Farm storage is much more likely than it was 10 or 20 years ago.Over the past decade, more regional farms have increased grain storage as farmers planted more corn, Adam Johnson said.They usually have their own drying systems and can store grain on their farms for as long as needed, he said.
“It’s going to have a huge impact on those individual farmers,” Adam Johnson said, “but the entire region won’t be affected as badly.”
Post time: Jul-05-2022