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Fall storage concerns grow following storms

By Staff | Jul 22, 2011

Grain bins destroyed by the July 11 high winds on the farm of Tim Doyle, of Chelsea. The photo was taken on an acreage near Marshalltown. “I don't know what's going to happen with the harvest since a lot of the corn has been flattened along with the silos,” Doyle said.

MARSHALLTOWN – Storage facilities, both on farm and at some area cooperatives, have been so severely damaged by last week’s storms that some local farmers may have to reassess their strategies.

“It’s kind of a mess at the moment,” said Richard Wahl, chief of the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s Grain Warehouse Bureau. “Not only have these cooperatives lost a lot of their grain bins, they’ve lost their grain elevating legs as well.”

In some cases, it may be hard to get those facilities back to a condition where they can accept grain by the fall harvest season. If they can accept grain, many may not be able to accept the capacity they normally do, Wahl said.

For farmers, that may mean improvising a little.

“They are going to have to take it further away,” Wahl said.

Further complicating matters is the fact the storm also destroyed a great number of storage bins on the farms themselves. Farmers who are used to holding onto their grain and selling it at a more advantageous time may find they need to get rid of it very quickly in the fall.

How much farmers will have to deviate from their normal practices depends a great deal on their locations, damage in those areas and how soon their cooperatives can rebuild, if damaged.

“I don’t have a very good sense for how long that’s going to take,” Wahl said of the rebuilding effort. “There’s certainly going to be a lot of demand to reconstruct bins and elevator equipment.”

Larry Petersen, CEO and general manager of Heartland Co-op, said his facilities mostly survived intact, despite some of them being near the heart of the storm.

“We are going to be able to take grain in the fall,” he said.

Locations in Pickering, in southern Marshall County and Cambridge, in Story County, sustained some damage, but Petersen said the damage was so minor it should not affect operations, even if repairs are not made by fall.

The Mid-Iowa Cooperative sustained a great deal of damage, with elevators in Green Mountain and Garwin, two of the heaviest hit communities. Both of those facilities suffered heavy damage.

Petersen said Heartland Co-op has extended an offer to Mid-Iowa to help in any way it can.

Contact Ken Black at kblack@timesrepublican.com.

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