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Alan Idso, site manager for the Arthur Companies elevator at Ayr, N.D., and Dylan Claus change bags on a machine that will load them with wheat as an unusual temporary storage tactic for Red River Valley wheat. Photo taken Sept. 11, 2017, at Ayr, N.D. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)

Make room for soybeans!

AYR, N.D. — Bagging wheat — it's a practice often seen in central and western South Dakota, but unusual in the Red River Valley of the North.

Crews were unfurling the long, white structures and filling them with 2016 and 2017 wheat for the first time on Sept. 11, at Ayr, N.D. The Arthur Companies elevator made room in the bin for what's expected to be a strong soybean crop that is just days away. Some farmers in the area have been bagging some corn in the past few years, but bagging wheat is unusual here.

Aaron Remick is the grain merchandiser for the elevator in western Cass County. The Ayr site has been busy in the past month moving and shipping a glut of old crop corn being delivered by farmers.

Farmers and elevators are waiting for the new crop soybean basis to rally before shipping. Chinese soybean buying has a bit slower than usual. Many grain marketers are waiting for buying to resume so local soybean prices can recover to a price closer to levels at the Chicago Board of Trade.

"Because we haven't seen that rally yet, everyone is making more space for soybeans," says Remick.

"We saw a lot of old crop wheat move just prior to harvest, and of course when new crop wheat came to town, it flooded the market, making it hard to sell another train," Remick says. "We decided the best decision was to bag some wheat and get ready for soybeans."

The bags will be on the ground until December and March, when the elevator will pick it up from frozen ground.

"It's short-term storage," Remick says.

Ayr has had 5.5 million bushels of structure storage, including two,1-million-bushel bunkers. The company has dedicated some of their large bin storage to wheat in the past couple of years to "capture some of the carry," which means they've marketed it at favorable future prices.

Among the Arthur Companies elevators at Ayr, Page and Pillsbury, the company will move about 24 million bushels of grain a year.

The Ayr facility is provided with a "ladder track" style loading arrangement for rail cars. It loads shuttles trains of 110 to 115 cars in about 12 hours where a "circle track" arrangement at the new Pillsbury, N.D., elevator can do the job in about six hours. The company will bag some wheat at its Pillsbury facility as well, Remick says. They'll bag about 200,000 bushels at each facility.

Bruce Hagen, a farmer from Ayr, N.D., stopped by to watch the process.

"We hauled in wheat last month and we'll be hauling soybeans in at the end of this month," he said. He noted that he just enjoyed watching it.