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Building more storage

Agriculture.com Staff 05/14/2009 @ 8:33am

When Minnesota farmer Chris Tesch started shopping for a grain bin in late 2008, the quotes he received from a variety of manufacturers were daunting. Because he was changing his crops from a 50-50 corn/soybean rotation to 100% corn in 2009, he knew he would need the extra storage space and would have to make a decision: Buy now or hold off and hope that prices would come down.

"Do I wait until the high-priced steel works its way through the bin companies and purchase later at a drastic reduction in cost? Or do I just bite the bullet now and assume bin steel will not drop in price?" he remembers asking those questions.

In the end, Tesch decided to pass on the December 2008 year-end specials, and it saved him 14% when he eventually purchased his 34,000-bushel bin in February 2009.

"I looked into eight different companies to compare quality, specifications, and price. It pays to shop around, especially this year," he says.

If you're in the market for a new grain bin, will you be as fortunate as Tesch? Sukup's bin sales director John Hanig says farmers are being optimistically cautious, but they may be missing their window of opportunity to get a good price on a bin.

"There's a lot of interest and a lot of quoting going on, but farmers are still waiting to see what will happen with steel prices," he says. "Typically, the steel industry has a price increase from June to July. By holding off, your cost may go up."

Hanig feels steel prices have likely reached their lower limits, and Sukup recently reduced the price of their bins to reflect that.

If a new grain bin is in your future, Hanig says there are three considerations to keep in mind.

  1. Seed technology. Hanig cautions that before you erect a bin, consider the fact that seed companies have technology that promises to double production yields by the year 2030. "If the potential is there to double yields, make sure to build large enough or you may have an antiquated site in 10 years," he says.
  2. Site preparation. It's important to do soil borings so you know what load-bearing capacity your site has. "It may involve excavating and repacking with sand to meet those requirements," he notes.
  3. Air flow. Hanig says with the amount of damaged grain that's been coming out of bins so far this year, it's obvious there's an inadequate amount of air flow. "Check with your supplier and inform them of the grain depth and diameter of the bin. This will determine the type of fan required to keep air flowing properly," he says.
  4. When Minnesota farmer Chris Tesch started shopping for a grain bin in late 2008, the quotes he received from a variety of manufacturers were daunting. Because he was changing his crops from a 50-50 corn/soybean rotation to 100% corn in 2009, he knew he would need the extra storage space and would have to make a decision: Buy now or hold off and hope that prices would come down.

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