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Published: Wednesday, 12/8/2010

Grain storage construction increases across Great Plains

LARNED, Kan. -- A construction boom is under way at grain elevators across the Great Plains, where farmers have grown more corn and opted to keep more of the grain to meet demand from ethanol plants.

Storage capacity at the nation's federally licensed grain elevators is at an all-time high but still not enough in states such as Kansas and Nebraska, where millions of bushels have been piled outside elevators at risk of weather damage.

Low interest rates have lowered the building costs, and commodity markets have encouraged farmers to store crops during the harvest glut to wait for better prices later.

Grain storage must be licensed, bonded, and insured by the state or federal government in case a facility becomes insolvent or has a disaster. Much of the year's construction has not been licensed and counted, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that federally licensed storage had reached a historical high of more than 4.5 billion bushels, not counting state-licensed elevators or unlicensed on-farm bins. Two 140-foot-tall silos are being built in Larned, Kan. The nation harvested a record 13.1 billion bushels of corn last year; this season's crop is forecast to be 12.5 billion bushels.

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