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Published October 19, 2012, 12:00 AM

Elevator loads lighten in places

With the 2012 harvest season well on its way to completion, some southwest North Dakota grain elevators are beginning to see space open up at their facilities, unlike a few years ago when farmers were forced to pile grain along roadsides.

With the 2012 harvest season well on its way to completion, some southwest North Dakota grain elevators are beginning to see space open up at their facilities, unlike a few years ago when farmers were forced to pile grain along roadsides.

Brian Fadness, grain marketing department with Southwest Grain, said Monday that the elevator in Dickinson is not having issues with space at this time.

The good news is that he does not foresee a chance for problems anymore this year since growing season is over and harvest of most crops is quickly coming to a close for 2012.

“We are doing pretty good with space,” Fadness said. “This harvest, we may have had a day or two where we sat with elevators that were full and just had to wait for trains to come through, but I would say that we are far enough beyond harvest at this point that I don’t really see it being a problem for us anymore this year.”

According to Southwest Grain’s website, the Boyle Terminal continues to accept both spring and winter wheat but not flax. The Dickinson durum terminal has space for all grades of durum and the New Salem Elevator continues to have room for sunflower, spring wheat and soybeans.

Producers are encouraged to contact the terminals before they haul grain to the facilities.

Terry Hartman, manager of Southwest Grain in Regent, said the grain elevator was filled up at the peak of harvest.

“But I think that at harvest we had taken care of all of the people who wanted us to take their grain to town,” he said. “In the last couple of weeks, though, we’ve slowed up.”

Hartman said last year the crop was not as abundant, so grain storage was not much of an issue for producers who use the Southwest Grain facility in Regent.

In early harvest season of 2009, both Southwest Grain and Beach Coop Grain Co. had their work cut out for them, trying to get their grain on the trains and shipped out in order to make room for the constant flow of grain that was coming into the grain elevator.

This year, Paul Lautenschlager, general manager at Beach Coop Grain Co., said storage at the elevator was tight in the early part of the harvest because many farmers in the southwest region were able to yield a good crop.

He added that the storage issues in Beach have not quite begun to cease just yet, as farmers continue to pluck corn from their fields and haul it in.

“We have just had to wait for cars to make more room at the elevator,” he said. “Now with all of the corn in this part of the state starting to be harvested, we’re back to fighting to get the corn we have at the elevator out, in order for us to make room for more corn that will be coming in.”

The corn still to be harvested this growing season is expected to be 3.39 million acres, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, North Dakota Field Office’s October crop production report.

Last year at the same time, 36 percent of the corn crop was mature. The five-year average is 37 percent.

When grain elevators, like Beach Coop, experience an overflow of grain, Lautenschlager said farmers usually have an option to store their grain at a facility they have on their property.

“With new storage methods and technologies like we have today, farmers have fans they can use on their grains bins to help cool the grain down so it can be stored,” he said. “If farmers can keep their grain stored well enough and they take good care of it, the grain could be stored like that for a couple of years without it negatively impacting the grain itself.”

Ultimately, Lautenschlager said southwest North Dakota farmers are a resourceful bunch who find a way to make it work so they can store their grain.

“For those who don’t or can’t find a place to store their grain, they will pile it on the ground, or they will simply take it down the line to elevators that are further away until they find an elevator that has space for their grain,” he said. “What they do not do is quit combining.”

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