North Dakota farmers struggle to store soy

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WDAY: FARGO — Soybean harvest has started in North Dakota, and with a shortage of storage space, many farmers are looking at the possibility of having to make room and hope for the best.

According to Dr. Ken Hellevang of NDSU Extension, there will likely be shortage of bin space after harvest, meaning some will have to look for alternative storage.

“(Farmers) are looking into piling with covers, some will go into buildings,” Dr. Ken Hellevang NDSU Extension Ag Engineer says.

Hellevang says most buildings aren’t designed to handle the weight of stored soy, meaning it could be costly to upgrade them.

Hellevang says some farmers are considering using grain bags to store their soybeans. The problem is you can’t aerate them, or control the temperature, which puts the soybeans at risk of spoilage.

“For short-term storage, they’ve worked okay, but for long-term storage, not a good option,” Hellevang says.

The elusive long-term storage is what the farmers need more than anything.

“The economists are talking about having to store the beans not only for winter, but into next summer,” Hellevang explains.

A logjam in the selling process is to blame for the storage dilemma.

“The reason we’re in this situation is that elevators, because of tariffs and other reasons, have lost their markets,” Hellevang said. 

In July, we told you about how steel tariffs are making it very costly to buy new bins from local dealers.

“Nope, the banker says I can’t do it,” Josh Rauser of Superior Grain Equipment, on July 30th said.

Steel prices have only increased since then.

Hellevang says it may not be easy.

“Still need to protect the grain,” Hellevang says.

But it’s crucial farmers make sure to properly store their grains if they want to make it.

Cass County was the number one soybean producing county in the United States in 2017.

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