Crop drying at a standstill in Upper Midwest

October 25, 2013 By    

Commercial truck drivers delivering propane in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota were given hours-of-service exemptions so they can meet farmers’ crop-drying needs. But exemptions apparently aren’t a quick fix in those states, where one propane retailer says a significant propane shortage is taking place.

According to Chad Hulstein, who handles propane sales and service for Chandler Coop, about one transport load is being made available to him every 24 hours at the Mid-America Pipeline (MAPL) terminal in Sanborn, Iowa. Hulstein says his company needs at least 15 transports per day to meet customer needs.

“There is a 10-to-18-hour wait to load our transports,” says Hulstein, whose company has facilities in Chandler, Edgerton and Slaton, Minn. “This is insane.”

Chandler used to access propane off the Cochin Pipeline in Benson, Minn. But that pipeline’s ongoing reversal project forced Chandler to look elsewhere for propane.

“We’ve had farmers who’ve been out of dryer gas for three days, and they’re looking to us for answers,” Hulstein says. “Some of these guys have prepaid.”

Hulstein adds that most, if not all, of his customers understand Chandler is at the mercy of the pipeline’s ability to provide propane. Still, Chandler’s customers have crops to dry, and Hulstein says time is of the essence for them.

“In our area our economy is [agriculturally] driven, without a doubt,” Hulstein says. “Now, we can’t even supply them with the products they need to get their crops out. This is a sore issue here and we want answers.

“I have at least 30 dryers sitting still just at my location alone. This is an outrage to say the least.”

A bigger-picture concern for Hulstein is that if the problem persists, farmers will look to other fuels – including natural gas.

“They’re looking for something else to get the job done,” he says. “We’ve been pushing propane to get back in the game with motor fuels, and this and that. Well, this is a huge deterrent.”

And in an area – crop drying – at which propane excels, no less.

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik was a senior editor at LP Gas Magazine.

1 Comment on "Crop drying at a standstill in Upper Midwest"

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  1. David says:

    So frustrating when supply is lower than demand.