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Area grain elevators packed to the max

Press Photo by Ashley Martin Jim Klym, a transfer trucker, prepares to unload his truck at Southwest Grain on Friday in Dickinson.

Harvest just began and yet area grain elevators are being stuffed full.

Jim Bobb, Southwest Grain division manger, said he hasn't seen a crop this large in the 27 years he's worked for the company.

"The yields are probably 125 percent of what it would normally be," Bobb said. "I would say the crop is pretty even all over, just in different stages. A lot of our smaller facilities are full."

Beach Co-op Grain Company is seeing a similar trend. It's a welcome change from last year's poor turnout.

"Last year we had a half a crop," said Paul Lautenschlager, General Manager of Beach Co-op Grain. "This year in the Belfield/South Heart area it's probably a double crop and around the Beach area it's about normal."

Both companies have been working to ship the grain off on railroad cars to make room for more, but both had days this week where they were unable to take anymore grain.

"I think it's a fair statement to say we're not keeping up. There's just more production than we're built to handle," Bobb said. "We keep going after more and more cars as the demand is there and the railroad has had the ability to fill that so far."

Bobb attributed larger-than-normal yields to plentiful moisture in the spring, and a cool, mild summer.

"Usually there's an area where there's hail or something's happened in some part of our trade area and this year it just seems like it's all over -- it's a good crop," Bobb said.

Neither company has had to physically turn anybody away, but they have let farmers know when they were full.

"Typically farmers know when we're getting full and they'll call," Bobb said.

Both companies anticipate they'll have enough room now to last at least through the weekend before they'll have to send for more railroad cars.

"The only problem it's causing is the price of the grain market," Lautenschlager said. "With the huge crop comes depressing prices -- supply and demand."

However, Lautenschlager said farmers should be able weather the low prices.

"The prices are depressing and I would say the prices are below cost of production, but you just have to hang to it," Lautenschlager said. "It's a good thing we have bushels, we can deal with the prices throughout the year."

Bobb said he thinks the high yields will be positive for the area.

"I'm happy for the farmers and I think it's also really good for southwest North Dakota," Bobb said. "The revenue that it will bring here should benefit everybody."