Propane Shortage Could Stop Iowa Harvest
SHEFFIELD, Iowa (AP) - Iowa farmers are raising concerns about a shortage of propane that's needed to dry crops during harvest.
Farmers in northern Iowa have faced delays in propane deliveries before, but not a shortage, according to the Mason City Globe Gazette.
Bruce Halvorson, petroleum manager for Five Star Cooperative, said harvest demands have led to a propane shortage throughout the Midwest.
"The problem is the Midwest just isn't built for the type of farming we've got when we've got wet crops," he said. "The terminals can't keep up. There are a lot of outages. The whole Midwest is in a bind right now."
Brad Koenigsberg, who farms west of Sheffield, said he's taking more of his corn to a local elevator for drying. He says the elevators use natural gas rather than propane to dry crops.
"It's just the end of a frustrating year," Koenigsberg said. "The crop does look to be a great crop. We'd like to be able to get it out and dry it."
Drying is essential this year, too, since the corn being harvested has ranged from 19 to 24 percent moisture, he said. Fifteen percent is needed for storage.
"If you don't have the hot air, then you have to stop," he said. "That means the grain cools back down, you have to warm everything up again and it's more expensive to dry it."
Koenigsberg, who is two-thirds done with harvest, hopes more propane is available soon. However, he isn't optimistic it will be available right away.
"Even once they have it they won't be able to catch up fast enough," he said.
Gov. Terry Branstad recently suspended the specific hours that drivers can transport propane in Iowa to help address the issue. The order is currently in effect through Nov. 7.
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