Corn transfer outraces storm



March 19, 2010 - 12:00 AM

PIQUA — Transfer of about $200,000 worth of corn stored outdoors since last fall’s harvest to weather-proof bins should be completed today at Piqua Farmers Co-op.
State regulations affecting grain purchase require stored grain to be moved to enclosed bins by May 1.
“We wanted to get it done before the wet weather arrives,” — forecast to start today and turn to snow Saturday — said Marvin Lynch, co-op manager.
Storage regulations are strict, Lynch noted, because grain “is just the same as money in the bank for the farmers who have it stored with us.” Each of the 60,000 bushels that was kept in a circular outdoor storage area, 105 feet in diameter with seven-foot walls and tarp covering, would fetch $3.40 on today’s market.
As warmer and wet spring weather approaches, the opportunity for spoilage increases, no matter how secure a tarp covering, Lynch said. The tarpaulin is held in place by an aeration system that pulls air from the enclosure, snugging it down against the grain.

THIS IS THE second year Piqua Co-op has stored corn outdoors, a process that requires an annual permit from grain inspectors with the Kansas Agriculture Department. Other area elevators also store outdoors and in western Kansas, with more arid conditions, corn often is left uncovered.
“We used two circles last year, but just one this year,” Lynch said, with wet weather during the fall extending the harvest long enough that grain could be shipped from Piqua to free space in traditional storage bins having total capacity of 1.2 million bushels. Each outdoor circular storage area can hold 100,000 bushels.
“We could store milo outdoors, and it would store better there than corn because it crusts over and sheds rain,” Lynch said. “But we couldn’t soybeans. Rain would ruin them.”
Farmers store gra in after harvest with the expectation that prices will rise.
Annual grain purchases at Piqua give a good example of how prominent an industry agriculture is locally.
Farmers carried a million bushels of corn to the co-op during the fall harvest, 870,000 bushels of soybeans and 100,000 bushels of milo. Last spring, 200,000 bushels of wheat were sold at Piqua. At today’s prices, that amounts to about $12 million worth of grains.
Piqua buys grain from farmers within a 12- to 15-mile radius of the Co-op.

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