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Fall harvest – where to put it

Richard Snell
Barton County Extension Agent

The more things change, the more they stay the same! I was trying to decide what to write this week and while going through the archives, I found the following article I had written back in 1998. I think you will find that most everything except for a few details applies today and fits this year as if it was written today. So step into the time machine —.

I warned you last year it might not be a single year problem. We have a dilemma! We are over-blessed with large grain supplies and soon they will be even bigger with the abundant fall harvest we are anticipating. So where are we going to put it all?

Last fall, I had a grain storage meeting that only 8 people showed up for. I had a feeling that storage might be needed on the farm more than one year and we were trying to help you prepare.

For those members of the general public who may not know, grain exports have slowed to the point that all the terminal elevators are full. So really there is no place to go with the grain after it is harvested. The local grain elevators have tried to get as much of last year’s soybeans, milo, and corn shipped out or sold to area feedlots as possible. But then the large wheat crop came and we have still got a lot of it around.

Farmers will likely be faced with being able to deliver grain to the elevator for the first few weeks of harvest or maybe a day or two at a time or maybe a few hours at a time. In some cases, elevators may only accept grain that has been forward contracted.

At one point it was a railroad transportation problem, but now even if we get the rail cars in place, they would just sit there with no place to move them to. The problem is not just a local situation. We have excess production worldwide, or if you take offense to that–a world-wide grain distribution problem.

As a grain producer, you can rely on the local elevator or look to other avenues. You could put up storage although if you haven’t contacted anybody by now, they are booked for months. Probably the best bet is to either have a nice, flat concrete surface to pile grain on outside or to get temporary storage ready.

Temporary storage means converting every machine shed, hay shed, or any available building into grain storage. It will be a hassle but you can’t just let the grain set in the field. One thing you will need to be alert for will be not to pile grain against sidewalls of buildings that weren’t built for it. You don’t want to destroy a good building. So leave some space next to the wall or do some heavy reinforcing.

If you have a have a semi-truck, you probably can find some space in some elevators in Texas and Oklahoma if you do some calling. The drought this summer pretty well took out their fall harvest.

There’s never been a guarantee that when you produced a crop somebody would buy it. You just took that chance. I doubt automobile makers or machinery manufacturers would produce much without having most of it sold–especially in these unsure times.

This year’s harvest will be most interesting and I hope we can get it finished in a decent time span. It will likely mean a lot of long days for all involved in the grain business.

Now, back to 2009. The only two things that are different are what caused it this time and the fact that actually the export business is good. Lack of farmer selling is the real problem. If you compare the grain price over the last ten years, today’s price is above average to extremely high. However, compared to 2008 the prices are not impressive.

Honestly, I told people after last summer we would never see yields like that in central Kansas again. Well, it looks like this year could be even better and some people are saying this is really three in a row for them. Are we blessed or what? I like this “climate change” thing.


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