Technology upgraded, capacity expanded at Mellette facility

Farm Forum

MELLETTE – Speed is of the essence at harvest time when farmers want to dump their grain at the elevator quickly so they can get back to the field.

To aid in that process, the Wheat Growers elevator in Mellette has installed a computerized card reading system as part of a major facility upgrade. Farmers can swipe an identification card through machines at the check-in station and check-out station without having to talk on the phone to the attendant. The computerized system gives farmers their grain quality ratings on a receipt before leaving the property.

Some of the farmers don’t like the new procedure. Others think it is a good move.

“I was apprehensive at first,” said John Woodring of Athol. “But the more I’ve used it, the better I like it. As farmers get used to it, I think they will like it. It eliminates some of the talking back and forth and saves time.”

The facility also has added two new 780,000-bushel steel grain bins and a new 25,000-bushel-per-hour conveyor. The new grain bins replace a bin that collapsed earlier this year. The net increase in storage capacity is about 800,000 bushels, said Jerry Moen, Mellette facility manager.

The cement pad under the damaged bin that was removed will serve as an outdoor storage area for piling grain. That area will be able to hold about 700,000 bushels of grain.

“I am proud of our facility and its design,” Moen said.

Most of the grain taken to the Mellette facility is shipped to the West Coast for export to Asia. Some of the corn is used in the manufacturing of ethanol. It is a shuttle loading facility along a rail line. Grain is loaded into 110-car unit trains.

The Mellette facility handles about 15 million bushels of grain annually, Moen said.

Harvest of early variety soybeans already has begun and trucks have been lining up at the facility daily.

“Ninety percent of all our crops coming in between mid-September and late October,” Moen said. “Last year, we took in 11 million bushels in 45 days.”

This is the fifth Wheat Growers facility to have a card system. The Andover and Roscoe elevators had them installed last year, and the Grebner elevator east of Aberdeen, Wolsey and Mellette got them this year.

“Everything is moving faster and faster,” Moen said. “We are trying to keep up with technology and help the farmers in any way we can.”

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