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Is Illinois Facing a Storage Shortage Nightmare this Fall?

It depends on who you ask, but a big crop and even a storage crunch is a nice problem to have.

With the stage set for a record corn crop in Illinois, many in agriculture are anticipating a major scramble for grain storage this fall.

Storage "is going to be tight," in the words of Jeff Adkisson, executive vice present of the Grain & Feed Association of Illinois. The group has 240 elevator members, representing 90% of the commercial storage in the state.

Companies that erect bins are racing to finish putting up bins that were ordered at the beginning of the year. "Companies that build bins were booked in February or March this year. If they didn't get (orders) in early they were left out in the cold," says Adkisson. Central and northern Illinois will see the most increase in bushels and consequently the biggest need for more storage.

Adkisson advises farmers to communicate their storage intentions to the elevator and let them know how much they're planning to bring in this fall.

All things considered, a big 2007 crop and even a storage crunch is a good problem to have, points out Adkisson. Don't underestimate the ability of Illinois' grain industry, he advises. "Over the years, our industry has always risen to occasion to store whatever the farmer brings to us."

And not everyone sees a storage problem this fall, however. Widespread concern that a storage shortage may exist in some quarters is unfounded, according to Darrel Good, a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"If new space was added at the same rate in 2007 as in 2006, national storage space will exceed fall grain supplies—old crop stocks plus production—by about the same margin as in 2004 and 2005," commented Good in a weekly outlook column.

"Even in Illinois, where the corn crop is expected to be 27% larger than in 2006, the deficit of storage space will not likely be larger than in 2004," says Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed recent USDA production forecasts. The August forecast of the size of the 2007 corn crop was larger than the average of reported expectations, while the soybean forecast was smaller than expected.

"Corn demand prospects have improved, however, due to a significant decline in grain production prospects in Europe," he said. "U.S. and world wheat production forecasts were reduced."

The 2007 U.S. corn crop is forecast at 13.054 billion bushels, 2.52 billion larger than the 2006 crop and about 145 million larger than the average pre-report expectation. The U.S. average yield is forecast at 152.8 bushels, 3.7 bushels above the 2006 average, but 7.6 bushels below the record yield of 2004.

"One of the more surprising forecasts was the projected average yield of 180 bushels in Iowa, 14 bushels above the 2006 average even though crop condition ratings have trailed those of a year ago," he said. "The average Illinois yield is projected at 178 bushels."

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