Grain Movement – Trains For The Win!

Apr 03, 2023

Jarod Lemper
Grain Division Manager

It's spring! Typically, this is the time of year when agronomy season kicks into high gear and the focus is on getting the new crop in the ground. However, the grain team is still focused on getting our old corn crop off the ground and moved! 
Temporary storage and ground piles are a necessity for Key’s grain strategy. Having the ability to handle an entire harvest and store it under a roof, is a luxury most cooperatives do not have. Key relies on several large stadium piles and a multitude of storage rings scattered throughout the company. The bunkers range in size from 350,000 to upwards of 850,000 bushels. The frac rings can be anywhere from 380,000 bushels to well over 500,000. Of our 14 ground piles, scattered throughout eight different locations, we put more than 7 million bushels of grain in this type of storage.
The outside storage rings hold over 350,000 bushels of grain each. 

So where has all this grain gone? In the months since harvest, we've steadily shipped 110 rail car shuttles out of Nevada as well as a consistent flow of rail cars out of our Newton location. The grain is picked up by truck, then transferred to Nevada & Newton to be loaded out on train. This train strategy has allowed us to pick up most of the stadium piles and rings at our locations. At the time of this article, Newton’s bunker was getting picked up and put into upright storage. The 1.5 million bushel pile (pictured below) in Nevada is the last of our outside storage that has yet to be picked up. With several trains to be loaded in April and May, this pile will supply Nevada with the needed corn to load three shuttles without having to transfer any bushels from other locations. With the agronomy season getting underway, this large source of corn on-site at Nevada can be picked up with a minimal amount of labor, at a rate of over 200,000 bushel per day. 

 Quality is the major concern when storing grain in pile form…and each crop stores differently. How the crop matured, how wet it was at harvest and how it was dried are just a few of the factors that play a part in storability. Keeping the piles dry before getting tarped is also key to maintaining quality. I’m happy to report that, as a company, we've had very few issues with the grain coming up off the ground. We’ve been able to send everything to market with very few end user discounts. 

The 1.5 million bushel pile in Nevada is the last remaining pile to be picked up.

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