Large harvest creates issues for Minnesota farmers

Farm Forum

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota farmers will face several challenges in shipping and storing what’s expected to be the state’s second largest corn crop in history.

The state’s fall harvest will amount to nearly 1.4 million bushels, the St. Paul Pioneer Press ( reported. But the massive corn crop is pressuring grain prices, so farmers may opt to store their grain instead of sell it. Farmers may run out of places to store the grain and be forced to pile it on the ground, according to Bob Zelenka, head of the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association.

“I think we’re going to see some ground storage this year, because of the lack of interest by producers in moving grain into the market,” he said.

Agricultural experts are continuing to monitor potential problems with transporting crops since many railroads are already backed up with the shipment of oil, coal, taconite and other commodities. The watchful eyes were driven by harvest troubles last year, but the same problems aren’t expected to occur again this fall.

“It appears to be more manageable than last year, because we’re all aware of the situation,” Zelenka said.

Shipping concerns are also fueled by the fact the North Dakota has become a big producer of corn and soybeans, on top of wheat, meaning there is more grain to transport.

“This is the first time we’ve had a corn and soybean (shipping) problem in North Dakota,” said Jerry Fruin, a specialist in transportation economics at the University of Minnesota. “We used to talk about wheat, but that (harvest) happened in August when the weather was better.”

Pressure is also added to the busiest parts of the railroad network by the demand for U.S. grain in Asia. Minnesota farmers can choose to transport crops via different methods, but barges have been unreliable and fuel prices have increased, according to Fruin.

Leftover grain from the 2013 harvest also contributed to the 60 percent increase for this year’s harvest. There are 162 million bushels of Minnesota’s 2013 corn as of Sept. 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.