This article was originally published in the November issue of Soy Perspectives magazine.

The 2019 soybean harvest is a memorable one. Millions fewer bushels will be harvested by U.S. farmers following weather woes. But high stock numbers and muted key export trade partners are keeping a tight lid on prices. And soybean stocks stored on- and off-farm are expected to increase as a result, adding on to the U.S.’ billion bushel ending stocks projection for 2018-2019.

“In central Illinois we have always dumped our beans in the fall and stored some of our corn. That switched last fall with the trade wars, because we always relied on China to take our excess beans in the fall,” explains Mark Hobrock, general manager of Western Grain Merchandising in Rushville. “Last year we had the most beans ever stored on-farm, and this year there will be more than last year on farms across Illinois.”

USDA estimates U.S. soybeans stored in all positions on June 1, 2019, totaled 1.79 billion bushels, up 47 percent from the prior year. On-farm stocks soared to 730 million bushels, up 94 percent from June 1, 2018. Meanwhile, corn stocks in storage fell by two percent.

This reversal of routine is apparent across the state of Illinois. Soybeans in all storage positions climbed to 320.7 million bushels in June 2019, compared with 250 million bushels the prior year. On-farm storage increased from 70 million to 100 million bushels.

This predictably has left grain merchandisers and logistics managers scrambling to meet increased storage demand for soybeans.

“We are still carrying a significant amount of last year’s production, and we have built additional storage space this year for that reason,” says Kim Craig, grain merchandiser for Bell Enterprises, Inc. of Deer Creek, which services Woodford, Tazewell and western McLean counties.

With U.S. soybean production projected at 3.6 billion bushels in 2019 and with soybean exports for 2018-19 down approximately 390 million bushels from the previous marketing year, many farmers are considering adding to their own, on-farm storage capacity. But how can farmers best keep soybeans– whether commercial or specialty varieties– in export-ready condition in an on-farm storage environment? Below are some tips from storage experts.

  1. Sample Soybeans in Storage

USDA Estimates US Soybeans stored in all positions on June 1, 2019, totaled 1.79 billion bushels, up 47% from the prior year. On-farm stocks soard to 730 million bushels, up 94% from June 1, 2018.

“As a warehouseman, the first thing to consider is that you have a commodity with significant value and you have to make sure you have a management plan for that inventory,” Craig advises. “If it has value, make sure your eyes are on that commodity and that you have an accounting of its condition. That means that you are going to have to do periodic samplings of that inventory.”

Craig notes soybeans require their own special kind of care and conditioning– especially if it’s a wet crop. “You are going to be running fans to make sure it is fresh and cool, and there is always a cost for energy,” he says. “If you want to end up with the right results you are going to have to spend some money to get there. You would be better off spending the money reassuring yourself that you are going to end up with what you want.”

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About the Author: Tim Alexander

Tim Alexander is an independent reporter and photographer covering agriculture. He has written for Chronicle Media Illinois and FarmWorld.