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Holding the harvest

HETTINGER -- As would be expected in the middle of harvest season, the United Grain Corp. elevator facility just east of Bucyrus was a busy place early Tuesday afternoon.

Recently completed -- though some arranging needs to be done in the office portion of the complex -- the towering elevator and command center was bustling with trucks coming and going, mostly bringing in spring wheat before weather moved in.

"Harvest has been steady so far," said Leif Anderson, the facility's manager. "We loaded out our first train Sunday, and we have another one coming this week and another at the end of the month."

After the harvest rush dies down, Anderson said the facility will load about one train per month.

During the summer of 2012, work began on the facility, which features towering grain bins with the capacity of about 1 million bushels of grain. As of this week, the facility was taking in mainly spring and winter wheat, but Anderson said it would also eventually take corn and other products.

"What we can hold here is equivalent to about two and a half trains," Anderson said. "We're getting wheat right now from about a 40- or 50-mile radius. It's a pretty good coverage area. You have some adjustments when you have all new equipment, things are going very well right now. With things coming off the field right now, people are just looking to keep it moving."

Based in Vancouver, Wash., United Grain plans to ship most of the grain that moves through the Bucyrus facility overseas, Anderson said.

As the afternoon went on and a storm moved into the area, the truck traffic began to slow somewhat, allowing Tony Avery of Hettinger, one of the facility's employees, a moment to reflect on the addition to the rural Adams County landscape.

"Since most of this will be going overseas, I think the reaction locally is somewhat mixed," Avery said. "But I think it's been mostly positive. It's a global marketplace these days, and I think people have to understand that. We certainly have a great facility here now."

Anderson said people have noticed and commented on the towering structure.

"It's a change," Anderson said. "It's something new and there's a lot of interest in it right now, but, I suppose, as time goes on it will just become part of the landscape. It does kind of sit down behind some hills here, too. Personally, I've really enjoyed working people in the area."

The nearly completely automated plant began taking grain the first week of August and has welcomed an average of about 125 trucks per day, Anderson said.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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