Cheney Free Press -

By PAUL DELANEY
Staff Reporter 

Four Lakes facility to add storage

Anticipated big harvest to be kept in temporary piles outside

 

August 17, 2017

Paul Delaney

As railcars are staged to deliver or pick up grain shipments at the Highline Grain Terminals in Four Lakes, construction crews in background prepare for the installation of new temporary grain piles.

Two years ago concrete silos were sprouting up in Four Lakes at the Highline Grain Terminal.

In about six weeks the bumper crop from the 2017 wheat harvest is expected to be piled in temporary storage onsite, Keith Bailey, general manager and CEO of Ag Ventures said.

The idea of adding ground storage was in the plans from the very beginning. "We just didn't know whether it would be right away or not," Bailey said, adding the first one should start filling in September.

Because of the crop quality last year there was a lot of late selling and a lot of late movement of grain carried over into the beginning of the 2017 harvest.

The need to add more storage on the ground is an indicator of a good harvest, Bailey said.

"We've seen much better than 15 percent, some areas in the south harvest trade area have seen even 50 percent and better," Bailey said of the region in Adams County.

Primarily it's weather-driven Bailey explained. "We had good moisture throughout the year (and) the timing of the spring (crop) coming through. To the north the weather was a little late for us."

"Winter crops look really good but our spring crops are a little questionable yet," Bailey said.

The exceedingly wet spring slowed planting. The crop got in the ground late and resulted in small immature plants.

"We thought we'd have a 60-bushel spring crop up here," Bailey said. Now that's been dialed down into the 35-40 range.

Winter wheat is usually planted from September to November and harvested in the summer or early fall of the next year. Spring wheat is planted in the spring and harvested in late summer or early fall.

Pricewise it's still not where it needs to be for the economics of agriculture, Bailey said, referencing a recent local high of $5 a bushel and prices generally hovering in the $4.50 to $4.60 range.

Similar temporary grain storage can be found at a variety of locations across the region, most notably in Ritzville and visible in the distance from Interstate 90.

The intentions are to keep a swing pile that will provide a reserve supply should they not be able to get timely shipments out of the Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad that serves growers out to Coulee City. Wet weather last winter slowed deliveries to Highline.

"We'll fill them and if markets demand we'll empty them again and fill them," Bailey said. "You don't want to get in and out of it all the time," he added.

The servicing of the temporary piles will take place through the existing mechanisms within the Four Lakes facility, but with the addition of delivery conveyors. A valve at the end of the belt will send product either to the concrete and steel tanks or the ground piles.

The Highline Terminal is owned by AgVentures an LLC comprised of Odessa Union Warehouse and Reardan Grain Growers.  Other owners are the Almira Farmers Warehouse, Davenport Union Warehouse and Central Washington Grain Growers.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@chanyfreepress.com.

 

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