More storage, grain moving out on rails

Farm Forum

“Harvest has been going real well,” John Ruplinger, general manager of Concord Grain, located west of Aberdeen on U.S. Highway 12, said. “The weather has been favorable with no real rain events. As we near mid-November, we’re getting close to the last half of corn harvest. Producers have been pretty happy to have the warm and windy weather that has taken down the moisture levels in corn. There are still some issues with moisture, running 15 to 20 percent for corn, but the crop is dryer than six weeks ago.”

Since the business relies on railroad to move the grain, having storage space is crucial. Ruplinger said they have added the capacity to store an additional 2 million bushels under a tarp this fall. “We’re filling that as we speak,” Ruplinger said. He said they’ve added a number of new customers this fall.

The ability to move grain on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line has been better than expected this fall. Ruplinger said they loaded a train that came on time this week, and it’s headed to the West Coast as scheduled. “It’s a definite improvement from last fall,” Ruplinger said.

Those who’ve come to the elevator have reported better than expected yields, running in the 140 to 200 bushel per acre range for corn. Farmers are using every option they can to deal with low prices. Contracts have been filled and were about a third of the harvest handle. With a little rally in corn prices, farmers are selling a little more across the scale. About 25 to 30 percent of the crop utilizes the delayed pricing option.

The grain dryer at the elevator handles 7,500 bushels per hour, so they can run nearly 180,000 bushels per day through the dryer. That’s allowed them to stay in front of the high moisture corn crop.

While they do have some beans piled on the ground, they don’t have any concerns about doing that. Once the corn harvest dwindles, they’ll pick those up in a couple of weeks.

Major concerns up north

In Forman, N.D., Full Circle Ag was disturbed by last year’s transportation problems. Officials from the company expressed their concerns at the Surface Transportation Board’s hearings earlier this year.

Jim Gallagher, the company’s grain operation manager, has been relieved that the new Canadian Pacific program is providing timely service this fall. Originally, shuttles were scheduled for 2.4 turns a month, and they’ve seen three shuttles carry grain out in the last 30 days.

“It’s much better than last year,” he said. “Things are going smoothly with about 75 percent of the crop harvested. Our company added 1.2 million bushels of steel-bin storage at Forman that has been filled. We’re filling bunkers, but it’s steady with not a huge backlog like last year.”