On-farm Grain Storage Grows

Sioux Grain Storage Bins

As expected, South Dakotans stored a lot more soybeans last year than they did in 2017.

Saddled with low prices, many farmers decided to hang on to their beans in hopes they would fetch a higher price in the future. A total of 158 million bushels of soybeans were stored in 2018, a 66 percent increase from the previous year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. More than half of those bushels–86 million–were stored on farms, a 132 percent increase. Off-farm soybean stocks totaled 72 million bushels, up 23 percent.

The amount of stored soybeans was equivalent to 61 percent of the bushels harvested in the state last year.

The state’s farmers also stored 464 million bushels of corn in 2018, with three-fourths of that stored on farms. The on-farm storage of 345 million bushels was a 13 percent increase from 2017. Off-farm stocks, at 119 million bushels, were 39 percent lower than the previous year. There was also more wheat in storage last year–57 million bushels, a 15 percent increase.

Gary Wickersham, a Sioux Steel grain bin dealer at Onida, said grain bin sales were “really, really slow” the past two years but were strong in the years before that. A number of years, he topped $1 million in sales. About 10 years ago, he sold $1.3 million worth of bins in one month. Potter and Sully counties are pretty saturated with bins, he said.

“A Farm Credit Services guy said you can’t drive through Sully County without wearing sunglasses because of the reflection from all of the galvanized grain bins,” said Wickersham, who has operated Wickersham Construction for 40 years.

He said a couple of the larger farmers have 20 to 30 55,000-bushel bins. There are also some 70,000- and 90,000-bushel bins in the area.

“Everybody wants to hold their grain for a better market,” Wickersham said. “The banks think you should sell once in a while.

Ryan Wagner, a Roslyn farmer and commodity broker, said he’s seen lots of storage added over the last 10 years.

“Storage has been slowly ramping up, both on-farm and commercial,” Wagner said. “Storage is Increasing, but it’s barely enough to keep up with the increased crop size.”

Wagner said the USDA quarterly report of stored corn and soybeans shows a higher percentage is being stored on farms than he could find at any time in history.

He heard ethanol plants are looking for more corn and are “pushing basis hard.” Although there are large supplies of corn in on-farm bins, it’s tough to get farmers to sell now because of load limits on roads, yard conditions and preparation for planting.

“The reason the basis is so narrow now is that farmers aren’t able to move it,” Wagner said.

Yields Topped 190 in 7 SD Counties

2018 was a challenging year to get crops planted and harvested, but that didn’t stop South Dakota farmers from achieving high yields in many counties.

Corn yields in seven counties averaged higher than 190 bushels an acre last year. Brookings County topped the list, falling just short of the 200 bushel per acre mark, at 198.9. Yields were below-average in areas with excessive flooding.

Statewide, South Dakota’s average corn yield was 160 bushels per acre. Here’s a county-by-county breakdown from the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s annual report.

Corn Yields by County, 2018

County Acres Harvested Yield
Central Region
Aurora 72,000 164.3
Beadle 167,900 159.7
Brule 65,700 168.9
Hand 125,600 138.3
Hughes 33,400 106.0
Hyde 45,500 125.7
Jerauld 37,800 147.5
East Central Region
Brookings 129,000 198.9
Kingsbury 128,300 184.5
Lake 109,700 192.7
McCook 115,000 177.9
Miner 75,900 178.7
Minnehaha 154,900 191.5
Moody 117,000 194.1
Sanborn 55,600 167.2
North Central Region
Brown 284,000 155.4
Campbell 56,400 129.6
Edmunds 127,600 117.3
Faulk 103,200 103.2
McPherson 61,700 108.7
Potter 80,600 109.0
Spink 234,500 160.0
Walworth 54,000 146.5
Northeast Region
Clark 121,700 177.5
Deuel 84,100 190.6
Grant 88,500 185.1
Hamlin 90,800 191.8
Marshall 93,700 184.6
Roberts 147,200 191.8
Northwest Region
Corson 43,200 91.9
Ziebach 17,700 78.8
South Central Region
Gregory 46,100 157.4
Lyman 40,500 120.7
Tripp 64,000 124.7
Southeast Region
Charles Mix 118,000 177.7
Clay 89,500 179.6
Hutchinson 146,000 166.8
Lincoln 129,900 161.9
Turner 129,400 176.3
Union 101,600 186.2
Yankton 86,400 175.6
Southwest Region
Bennett 22,300 128.7
Custer 1,100 100.0
Meade 9,000 87.8
Statewide 4,860,000 160