Two more grain elevators have gone up at the Nekoma station.
Posted on 9/28/17
By Lisa Nowatzki
The site is part of the Osnabrock Farmers Co-op Elevator (OFCE), which includes the main office in Osnabrock, the terminal in Nekoma, and a retail facility in Langdon.
In 2015 the site added 10 new silos. In June 2017, construction was started on two more silos with construction finishing up in September. Though construction is done on the new elevators, they will not be ready to use until February 1, 2018.
Josh Schaefer, the general manager of the Nekoma station, gave several reasons for the expansion of in Nekoma. “First,” Schaefer said, “we are experiencing a larger crop yield per acre from this year’s harvest.” More crops per acre translates into more bushels per acre and an increased need for storage space.
Part of the need for more grain silos may be reflected by crop selection and production. According to Randy Mehlhoff, director of the Langdon Research and Extension Center (LREC), Cavalier County has the highest percentage of crop land in North Dakota, more than any other county in the state. The county is also the state’s number one producer of hard red spring wheat and canola.
Besides wheat and canola, some farmers are moving away from traditional crops. Schaefer said, “More farmers are making the transition to soybeans so this is also a reason that more storage is needed.” More corn was also planted this year. Mehlhoff advised that Cavalier County farmers have planted more soybeans and corn this year than in previous years.
“Traditionally, corn and soybeans have not done well in the county because they have a longer growing season and take longer to mature,” Mehlhoff said. With the development of new varieties of corn, and especially soybeans that mature quicker, more farmers are making the transition to soybeans.
The ability to plant and harvest more corn and soybean crops increases the need for more grain elevators and storage areas. Schaefer shared that the co-op is experiencing above average business for this harvest season.
According to Mehlhoff, in the six years prior to 2016, only 6000 acres of soy were planted in Cavalier County, however, thanks to the new, quick-growing varieties of soybeans, nearly 130,000 acres of soybeans were planted in 2016.
Schaefer also cited more bushels per acre and changing crop rotations as reasons for the elevator expansion. According to Mehlhoff, county farmers who grow hard red spring wheat and canola are on a two year crop rotation.
“The average production for the county is 70 to 90 bushels per acre, but for this harvest season, many farmers have had the best yield ever, this year,” Mehlhoff stated. Again, higher crop yields equal an increased need for more space and an increase in the need for services like the ones provided by Schaefer at the Nekoma elevator.
Finally, the need for more grain silos has increased due to centralization. The need to centralize operations arises from the closings of some of the other stations and grain elevators in the area.
The two new grain silos have a diameter of 70 feet and are 155 feet tall. Each bin will hold an addition 445,000 bushels. With the increased business, Schaefer said that Nekoma is able to load out more rail cars.
Nekoma is serviced by the Northern Plains Railroad which is supplied with cars by the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Schaefer stated that the station loaded out 5,000 railroad cars last year. As of September, the station has already loaded out 5,500 rail cars.
With the expansion in 2015 and the two additional grain bins this year, Nekoma can now load and send out a large train each week. Schaefer said that the co-op uses a dedicated freight line that helps defray the cost associated with the freight commitments.
By using faster shipping methods, the OFCE hopes to continue to provide quality services to the growers in the area. Both the Osnabrock and Nekoma facilities continue to efficiently handle and market customers’ grain like they have been doing for more than 90 years.
Schaefer also wants to let everyone know that the co-op does more than just seed, chemical, and fertilizer sales. According to their website, they also offer other services.
The Co-op provides assistance with many farm-related jobs that can be tailor-made to the needs of the individual customer. Some of the services provided by OFCE include application of both dry and liquid fertilizer based on the customer’s fertilizer needs. Customized spraying and hauling and grain drying services are also offered.
For more information on the co-op, go to their website at www.osnabrockcoop.com or call the Osnabrock station at (701)496-3111 or the Nekoma station at (701)949-2722.