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Published September 01, 2010, 12:00 AM

Loads of grain hitting the ground — again

Area grain elevators are full and employees are trying to move out the grain as fast as they can but piles are beginning to spring up across southwest North Dakota, similar to last year.

Area grain elevators are full and employees are trying to move out the grain as fast as they can but piles are beginning to spring up across southwest North Dakota, similar to last year.

Full elevators and a good harvest are leaving farmers looking for other options for storage. Sometimes that means picking a good looking spot on the ground and dumping.

“We are already seeing piles,” said Randy Unruh, Boyle Terminal manager in Taylor. “Quite a number in fact.”

Unruh attributes the abundance of grain and lack of storage to the good harvest farmers experienced last year. With harvest still in swing, it appears they are experiencing it again this year.

The Boyle, Dickinson and Gladstone terminals were full as of Tuesday.

“We see about 200 trucks a day,” Unruh said.

Unruh said the elevators try to push the grain out by rail as fast as possible.

“We are full right now but we have a shuttle train coming in this week and by Thursday morning we should have room for 800,000 bushels,” Unruh said. “But we will be full again in two days’ time.”

There won’t be as many grain piles as last year, said Kevin Lien, Southwest Grain manager at the Dickinson Terminal.

“I think farmers brought their crops in earlier so they may have storage at home,” he said.

Grain should be stored in something that will keep out moisture, said Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University agricultural engineer.

Storing grain in piles “is only for temporary use, it is not something producers like to do,” said Roger Ashley, NDSU extension agronomist. “Leaving the grain out in the open exposes it to animals and moisture.”

Exposing grain to too much moisture will cause it to spoil, Ashley said.

“If that happens the grain will be of no value for milling or livestock use,” he said.

Moisture in the grain comes from precipitation and from the ground.

“Let’s say we got one inch of rain and it wet the top foot of the pile. That would increase the moisture by nine points,” Hellevang said. “Ideally wheat should be stored at 13 percent moisture; an inch of rain would increase the moisture level to 22 percent, which is not good.”

A good way of preventing moisture is to “use grain bags,” Ashley said, adding grain is also at risk of spoiling if bags get punctured or are not sealed properly.

“Farmers can also use an aeration system with fans and ductwork to move air around and dry out the grain,” Hellevang said.

If grain does get wet, sometimes it can be saved.

“It depends on how quickly we get the grain dried out again, to know if the whole pile is shot or if some of it is still recoverable,” Hellevang said.

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