A beautiful summer in Minnesota produced corn and soybean crops that are on pace to set new records.
Now what do we do with it all?
The combination of record yields and low commodity prices means many farmers are putting crops in storage and hoping prices will rebound. But as the St. Peter Herald reports, that has grain elevators and other storage facilities overflowing.
Tyler Sunderman, who owns Patriot Grain in Cleveland, Minnesota, filled it to capacity with 425,000 bushels of grain and then piled up another 200,000 bushels on the ground outside, he tells the Herald.
Sunderman, who was also interviewed by KARE 11, got the Le Sueur Henderson high school wrestling team to help him cover the huge grain piles with tarps to protect them from the elements.
Even so, he tells the Herald the piles should only sit outside for a few months because – with no air circulating through the crops – damage and losses would take hold.
Glut of grain keeping prices low
A Reuters reporter who visited southwestern Minnesota found that many grain warehouses are either storing crops in the open or turning away farmers.
Farmers are not excited about bringing crops to market at current prices. Reuters says producing a bushel of corn generally costs farmers about $4 and that bushel is selling for about $3.25 these days.
With a strong dollar stifling exports and South American farms growing more grain, experts see no relief from the low crop prices in the near future.
Kevin Skunes, a board member with the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, told the Grand Forks Herald last week: "We're probably going to pay most of the bills, but there certainly isn't going to be much for family living at the end of the year."
The Herald says commodity prices peaked in 2012, when corn was selling for $8.82 a bushel and soybeans for $17.90. Last week they were selling for $3.76 and $8.82, respectively, the newspaper says.
Thus, the demand for storage is strong. Agri News reports growers generally use their on-the-farm storage first before turning to grain elevators. While grain piles outside those elevators are a common sight this fall, Agri News says they'll likely only last a few months, after which the crops will need to be moved to indoor storage or off to market.