Increasingly, producers opt to store grain on the farm
More and more producers across Alberta are storing their grain on-farm in the fall, which allows them to take advantage of higher prices later in the marketing season and improve their marketing plans.
On-farm storage also makes sense for farmers who reside further away from elevators, said Ryan Furtas. He is a market analyst co-ordinating researcher with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
“Some farms are maybe spatially isolated, or can't haul to an elevator, or some sort of a processing or crush plant, off the combine. So, storing (the crop), either in bins or in temporary storage, is basically the only option,” he told Farms.com.
A lot of farmers opt for steel bins, both corrugated and smooth walled, to store their grain. Within the last five years, the price of a 5,000-bushel bin increased from $3.80/bushel to $4.80/bu. This increased cost is directly related to the amount of grain farmers store, said Furtas.
According to Statistics Canada, over the last five years permanent storage has increased “2 million tonnes here in Alberta,” he said. “In the last 10 years or so, farmers have definitely invested in more improved infrastructure and that can be a result of seeing the benefits of storing grain a bit longer.”
Rough harvest conditions in recent years also pushed some farmers to increase their storage capacity. Producers have increasingly used grain dryers and aeration to manage their crops too, said Furtas.
Although grain storage offers clear benefits, producers must be mindful of some associated risks.
“Spoilage is the big thing. … Something like an oilseed is volatile as opposed to cereals, which are a little less volatile,” said Furtas.
Farmers also must decide the best time to sell their grain, as some crops – such as barley and flax – can experience big price swings.
If farmers decide storing their grain is the right way to go, they can select from a lot of options, said Furtas.
“Every farm operation is unique, and your situation will dictate what you can do. It's no secret that farmers see the benefits to (grain storage) and I think that investing in grain storage is definitely high on their list to improve their farm operations,” he said.
Producers interested in learning more about the cost of storage can refer to this report.
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