UGC expands Bucyrus location: 2 steel bins double capacity of Adams County elevator
BUCYRUS -- The tiny town of Bucyrus, just west of Hettinger, is the location of one of five elevators for United Grain Corp. UGC built the elevator near the small town in 2013, which wasn't long after a wildfire sparked by a passing train wreaked...
BUCYRUS - The tiny town of Bucyrus, just west of Hettinger, is the location of one of five elevators for United Grain Corp.
UGC built the elevator near the small town in 2013, which wasn’t long after a wildfire sparked by a passing train wreaked havoc and destroyed much of the town.
Since then, progress is being seen at both the fire and the new elevator.
UGC has expanded its facility to include two steel bins, which has more than doubled their capacity, said Leif Anderson, the elevator’s manager.
It is now able to hold 2 million bushels of spring and winter wheat.
During harvest, Anderson said UGC employees work 12-hour days and see as many as 200 trucks dumping their grain into their single pit, which then will be housed in one of their 13 bins.
The elevator staffs five full-time employees, with an added bonus of a spectacular view on top of the bins of the Adams County plains and beyond.
Tony Flagg, UGC’s vice president for business development, said the corporation wanted to have a presence in southwest North Dakota because of the excellent quality of wheat.
The reason for the expansion was in case of unreliable rail service, Flagg said.
“It enables us to provide services to the producers during harvest,” Flagg said. “Our problem had been a couple years previously, is that we had an interruption of service from the railroads for a variety of reasons and the trains we had ordered to haul harvest grain away from the elevators in order to keep us liquid did not arrive in a timely basis. So we had to shut the elevator down during harvest.”
Two-and-a-half trains at full capacity would empty the concrete bins. With the addition, it now takes five trains, Anderson said.
To keep that service going for the producers, UGC added the two steel bins in addition to the 11 bins housed in their concrete structure that was original to the location.
Anderson said it was a year-long construction “from the time we started turning dirt to the time we had full functionality.”
Their reason for using steel over concrete was an easy decision to make.
“The steel is less expensive, so after you get the segregation in the cement; you can, if you will, put your vanilla in the big bins,” Flagg said.
He said the new bins allow UGC to separate wheat by protein levels, which is essential to marketing the commodity.
“You can put a common protein, common wheat in the big bins,” Flagg said. “But you need the segregation afforded by the smaller bins in the cement uprights in order to do the initial segregation of protein.”
The added storage also allows flexibility on when they can move grain, Anderson noted.
“The last few years have been good, high production, good yield production,” he said. “This year we are moving into a time when prices are much lower than they have been for a while. That creates challenges.”
With those challenges, Anderson said with the added storage they can be a little more patient in moving the grain to their export location in Vancouver, Wash.
“Depending on how trains are moving and what we have for the commodity, it could be in and out of here in days or it could be months,” he said. “It’s not normal for an elevator like this to sit here and hold grain for really extended periods of time. It’s supposed to be a flow through. That’s why the designs are what they are."
The added capacity is definitely going to give us some longer storage to allow some more flexibility in our merchandising and export side.”
Once the grains reach Vancouver, Flagg said they “typically will go to Japan or the Philippines or Taiwan or Korea. All of those customers are very quality conscious and they are in the Pacific Rim, which is basically our trade area.”