Looking at the grain storage facilities we have in the area tells us something about the changing face of agriculture. We have new grain storage bins at commercial operations like Deerfield Farms in Kinsman and W.I. Miller Sons in Gustaves. Then there is Yuhasz Brothers in Colebrook and Western Reserve Farm Cooperative in Andover.
Combine these commercial facilities with the new on farm storages that are sprouting up and we see a lot more capacity for grain storage.
With the addition of one new storage bin, two "wet" bins and a new grain dryer, Western Reserve Farm Cooperative continues to be an important part of the agricultural economy in Northeast Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania. These new bins, all built in Andover, provide for about 585,000 bushels of storage capacity for locally grown grains.
Kelly Hyde, Feed and Grain Division manager for Western Reserve Farm Co-op, says that the new bins at Andover, combined with about 320,000 bushel storage at Jefferson and 120,000 bushels at Middlefield, will provide over 1 million bushels of storage capacity for area farmers.
"Even with this year's exceptionally dry weather, we had enough rains at the right time in this area that we expect to fill these bins this fall," Kelly added.
Construction of these bins is interesting and a science of its own.
The 32,000 bushel "wet" bins will take grain that has to be dried, then hold it until it can go through the 1,800 bushel an hour continuous dryer. Then it can be moved into the larger storage bins to either be stored and held until it is sold for livestock use, to make ethanol or for food use.
Bins are steel constructed in rings. One ring and the top are built. then hydraulic jacks raise them up evenly and the next ring is built. This process is followed until the planned height is reached, then the bin is anchored to the concrete foundation that was poured ahead of time.
The bottom section or base of the wet bins is a cone shaped bottom built on a steel framework. It is constructed separately from the rest of the bin. When the bin is complete, a large crane picks it up and moves it off the concrete foundation. Then another crane picks up the cone-shaped base, moves it over on the foundation, and the bin is lowered back down and the two sections fasten together. It took skilled workers to match the top part with the base and then anchor them to each other.
If the fall harvest of soybeans and corn turn out as good as expected and prices stay as high as they have been, local growers should make some profit this fall. When the combines hit the fields and grain starts coming in, the real picture will be known.
The addition of these new bins, along with other grain storage capacity in Northeast Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania, is a reflection of the changing face of agriculture in this area. While dairy farming is still the backbone of farming in the area, it has been rapidly changing to a grain growing area.
Go back 40 or 50 years and there was hardly a soybean growing locally. Now they are everywhere. Hardly a farm does not have some soybeans. And the acres of corn have expanded greatly.
Parker is an independent agricultural writer and a voice for agriculture.