Grain Bin Boom

Dakota corn growers race to build storage before harvest.

Grain bins are going up in the Dakotas at a pace not seen since the late 1970s, say area builders. Farmers are rushing to build more storage and grain handling before corn harvest begins. In South Dakota, farmers are adding more storage and handling systems to supply the 20 ethanol plants in the state with corn year-round. In North Dakota, corn acreage doubled this year - not just in response to the construction of a half dozen ethanol plants in the state, but in anticipation of supply corn for states that may have to import corn in the future. Farmers are putting up big bins. Superior’s most popular size is 57,000 bushels, says Claire Rauser, president of the company headquartered in Kindred, N.D. Features to cut energy and labor costs are popular, too, says Kevin Johnson, president, Gateway Building Systems, Fargo, N.D. Some corn growers are carving out new grain handling sites in bare fields. Others are building away from the farmstead, on land next to a grain elevator or rail line. Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University extension agricultural engineer, says he expect that there won’t be enough storage for corn this year despite the building boom. Corn that has to be piled on the ground is subject to large losses. “With current corn prices, a lot of money is at stake,” he says.

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