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Farmers Seek Storage Solutions for Expected Large Crops

Farmers Seek Storage Solutions for Expected Large Crops

Favorable growing conditions may bring bumper crops, but some Corn Belt farmers waiting for higher prices planning shift to bags for storage solution

Storage options for the 2014 corn crop may be in short supply thanks to ideal growing conditions across the 18 states that produce 91% of U.S. corn, says University of Missouri Extension specialist Bill Wiebold.

Planning to sell when prices increase, more farmers may be holding onto corn longer, he says, hoping to get a bit more than the $3.60 a bushel that corn is currently fetching, down from record prices of more than $8 two years ago. And when farmers hold on to more corn, they need new places to store it.

Favorable growing conditions may bring bumper crops, but some Corn Belt farmers waiting for higher prices planning shift to bags for storage solution

In Missouri, harvest is coming on fast: some corn has already reached black layer and shelling may begin as early as next week, MU says. Frank Wideman, MU Extension natural resources engineer, agrees the chatter among farmers is focused on storage.

Related: Rail Backlogs Fuel Grain Shipping, Storage Concerns Ahead of Harvest

"A lot of the farming community would like to hold onto grain in hopes that prices improve over the winter," Wideman said. As a result, some are modifying existing structures such as machine sheds or hay barns. Though these structures are not intended for grain storage, producers are fortifying them with wood and adding moisture-proof liners.

According to Wideman, some are also considering silage tubes, even though they present a few challenges. The first? Drying. Corn stored in bags must first dried prior to storage if it is to be sold later, MU reminds farmers.

Drying means extra costs and tubes cost about 7-8 cents per bushel, similar to the cost of commercial storage, MU points out. However, producers can incur extra labor costs and corn is reduced in quality and quantity.

Related: USDA Report Shows Farmers Growing Record U.S. Corn, Soy Crops

Unlike silage that is packed tightly in the bags, MU says, corn also can be damaged when animals and birds put holes in the tubes in an attempt to gain access to corn. This allows rain or snow to enter the tube and cause damage. In addition, corn storage in tubes carries some fermentation risk.

When it's time to use or market the corn, a vacuum-type conveyor can be used to suck it up and blow it into a grain truck. A tractor with a front-end loader also can be used to load corn into the grain truck.

Either way, labor costs increase and value decreases, MU says. But as Missouri agriculture department director Richard Fordyce told farmers at the 2014 Missouri State Fair: "It's got to go somewhere."

News source: MU

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