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BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Father Time and the Elevator Line

Elevators have long lines when they are open, despite the on-farm bin building spree.  Some are closed to wet corn, the dry <17% is slow.   My observation is if you are 65 and don`t have a successor you probably don`t want to invest in a depreciating bin site, so you take it in the shorts on drying and shrink.   And there are many in that category out there. 

Then there`s the Hotshots who`ve expanded beyond their bin building and or picked up land beyond their home territory and hauling it a couple miles locally makes the most sense.   The thing is even a 12 row combine, 1 grain cart and 3 trucks can overwhelm a small elevator, if there are a few of those in battle at the time.  Then there`s the guy who has a hiredman pulling (2) 650 bu wagons 1300 bu total in line and there is always one or two units full waiting as soon as he returns to the field.   I even saw a Chevy Tahoe pulling a part full 250 bu wagon with beans, decided not to get a picture  😀

The problem is, since they did away with most of the rail lines, when the elevator gets full it all has to be hauled out, 18 wheels at a time.   The problem with that beyond the obvious is there is a real shortage of drivers that will haul grain, more money elsewhere.  It`s all hands on deck, they`ll pull people from behind the desk if they have a CDL.   And add to that drivers are needed to also haul fertilizer.  

I suppose in the uncomfortably near future, all farms will have 100% needed storage and they will harvest and haul at their convenience to the enduser.   If you put 10 years of age on everyone in the elevator line and everyone working at the coop, it`ll be for sure be a different place.  

5 Replies
Esteemed Advisor

Re: Father Time and the Elevator Line

BA, good post in pointing out that the Cooperative system wasn't built to handle BTO's that have more harvesting capacity than the local elevator has hauling capacity. Probably wont be many small elevators around in a decade.

Modern Coops do a pretty good job of handling spraying for thousands of acres, and fertilizer procurement for those that don't want to handle dangerous products themselves or that have a hard time with calibrations.


Veteran Advisor

Re: Father Time and the Elevator Line

most of the elevators in my area have done a decent job of upgrading facilities to be able to handle the increasing volume and speed of harvest. Even so, more and more farmers are looking at building their own “elevator “.  May as well, since they have the trucks and need something to keep the employees gainfully employed during the off season. I’m one of those old guys who doesn’t have enough years left to make it worthwhile. If I was ten years younger…

BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: Father Time and the Elevator Line

Hey Red,  Jeff Stein had a radio program this morning talking to an author of a book on demographics.  In Iowa and probably the rest of the country we have reached the point where those over 65 outnumber those under 18.  Rural America has had the exodus of young people out seeking better opportunities for as long as I can remember, but it`s really becoming noticeable.  I`m approaching my late 50s and listen to the obituaries and I somewhat know most on the list everyda, fair number are younger than me.  As Dad used to say after reading the obits "As long as I don`t see my name, it`s a good day"  😀   Seriously though it`s taking a toll on the available workforce.

More and more elevators and feedmills are being open 24hrs and self dumping.  The Smithfield feedmill by Algona is that way and I think the newer coop by Titonka is too.   Yesterday I was hauling corn home to bin, it`s down to 15.1%-16.1% already and met older guys hauling corn away in coop trucks... one taking the corner on "9 wheels"  😀  

But storage is the bottleneck, IMO they need to anticipate their storage needs and be ready to pile on the ground.  Some coops are landlocked and no room to pile, they need to look for locations outside town or an old Shopko parking lot or something .  This would be an ideal fall to pile outside.  Gavilon  over at Joice I think was even piling beans outside, I know they get away doing that in places in South Dakota ... it would make me nervous though.  

These elevator boards are a little too frugal, overly concerned with their dividends and coop shares.  Five Star coop is a little bit more forward thinking.  The dividend checks might feel good, but you end up paying it right back in taxes anyway... I`d rather they expand.  Five Star expanded their Hanlontown site right in the shadows of the Poet ethanol plant!   and they are doing gangbusters.  5 Star expanded the ting Scarville site and after worrying if  "will the farmers come?'   they built it and boy did they respond!   And now at Ventura put up bins where previously were pile outside pads.  

These cement silos built in 1960 had a useful life of 50 years and now a safely hazard where if used need a grating put up so pieces of concrete don`t fall on your head.   IMO if coops use dividend money to expand, even if 10 years from now there won`t be the customers, some BTOs would always would be interested in buying the site if in 15 yrs from now there`s a dystopian future.    Even Woden put up "tin cans called bins" to keep the corn off their streets 😀

0 Kudos
Esteemed Advisor

Re: Father Time and the Elevator Line

America has a blue collar skills shortage. Particularly in adults under the age of 30. SO WHAT HAPPENED?

Covid, and the mandates that came with it changed everything and brought this issue to light when late baby boomers took early retirement by the millions. Almost overnight the burden of work fell on to a smaller generation that lacked the skills that were common among boomers. 

FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD.. that is how I feel as a millennial. My generation is older than the media likes to paint us, with the oldest millennials being in their early 40's. We grew up in the 80's and 90's when people still knew how to fix things, and many of us fought in a 20 year war without a draft.

For me personally I'm 39 years old, my childhood heroes were farmers. I wanted a career in farming but family members and teachers in high school discouraged it. My own stubborn will got me into farming and eventually trucking. 

THIS IS A SELF INFLICTED WOUND.. You can't expect an entire generation of young people that have been told that success only comes from white collar careers to pick up the slack. 

BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: Father Time and the Elevator Line

Millennials are doing pretty well considering the circumstances they`ve faced.  True they weren`t drafted or faced a depression, but the way the economy changed to "avoid an inevitable depression" sort of made worse challenges than a "one and done for 60yrs depression" .  Then you add technology, where in the past you had the luxury of being slow to adopt, now you`d better be first or you`re last.  

Dad had an old copy of Successful Farming from the 1950s and I recall the article titled something like "How we switched to shelled corn".  And in the 90`s a Successful Farming article about "pifalls of switching to semis for grain hauling" now semis make up 90% of the line at the elevator.  And there are dozens of similar advice on changes in agriculture that if you didn`t jump on it, you were washed down the stream.  

When those changes were occurring, those were the "good ol days" now that those changes are the norm, it`s expensive and daunting to enter the industry.  If Daddy Warbucks took those arrows and says "when you graduate university this spring, there`s a place for you here, I`ll buy you a half section!"  then all you have to do is start a You Tube channel about snacks in your combine and getting the graincart stuck.  In a way, starting a You Tube channel is more difficult than "switching to shelled corn".   😀