move crops out of storage

Farmers struggled to move crops out of storage earlier this year with river terminals closed due to flooding, but many made up for the delay, clearing out bins when prices spiked.

With harvest season coming up in a hurry, farmers want to make sure bins are ready to receive the new crop.

However, that has been more of a challenge than normal for some. Fayette County, Iowa, farmer Mark Recker said while this is an exceptionally bad year for delays, it’s not uncommon to have a few delays.

“It’s so different than any other year,” Recker said. “In my 25 years of farming, we’ve never started this late. We’ve had delays on the river before where we’ve pushed things back a couple of weeks, but to not be able to haul in earnest until the last week of June, early July here, we are still on allocation in the first couple weeks of August.”

Recker, who hauls soybeans to Clayton, said things are looking better in August, but this could be symptom of larger things going on.

“When we talk about upgrading our infrastructure, our locks and dams, this plays into that too,” Recker said. “We need to reinvest into this infrastructure so we can have an efficient system for taking things down to the river.”

With a price spike, many farmers looked to take advantage, which has led to a busier time for some truckers.

Ryan Ashton, logistics coordinator at Mid-Iowa Coop, said they have seen a lot of grain moved in a short time.

“It’s been a little unusual, as the last month has had the biggest off-the-farm pickup we’ve done since I’ve been working here,” Ashton said. “Normally it’s fairly spread out across the summer, but everybody sold when the market spiked about a month and a half ago.”

Ashton said he doesn’t think many farmers are holding on to grain in hopes for another market jump, and he doesn’t think much is left in storage at the moment.

The aggressive crop movement is also being seen at other Iowa co-ops.

Mike Moellenbeck, vice president of grain at River Valley Cooperative in Eldridge, said they have been absorbing some of that market-spike selling, but like Recker, they have had similar issues moving beans due to some of the river logistics.

“I would say we haven’t really changed anything (in regards to operations this season),” Moellenbeck said. “We are pretty normal for this time of year in corn inventory. The problem is beans. Our bean inventory is way up for this time of year, just because of the river logistics and the amount of beans we have to move.”

River Valley Cooperative covers a wide range, from Galesburg, Illinois, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and he estimated that there could be as much as 20% old crop corn still out in bins.

Despite many people speculating on a smaller crop coming in, Moellenbeck said he will be prepared for whatever happens.

“I still think we have potential for decent yields around, but it’s going to be extremely variable,” he said. “It may be that the harvest doesn’t end up as late as we thought because of the recent dry spell. It’s going to be an extremely variable crop.”

From a transportation perspective, Ashton said he expects normal volume this year. However, he may struggle to find truck drivers.

“We are still looking for a few drivers,” he said. “It’s an ongoing thing every year, but it seems to be harder maybe this year than most with unemployment being so low and CDL drivers at a premium.”

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