Farmers urged to plan ahead on propane supply

Farmer doused with pesticides

KIMT News 3 – One big problem many faced last winter was a propane price spike. It turns out there is a good chance that could happen again, so the industry is urging farmers and homeowners to be prepared.

Propane is used as a heat source in many rural homes, but it is also a way to dry corn when it comes to harvest time for area farmers.

“Last fall there was a lot of bottlenecks in the supply chain, a lot of shortages, so we made it through,” said farmer Tim Westrom.

Farmers like him do not want that to happen again, so they are already making plans for the fall.

“Trying to get some needs covered, it’s a business, so hedging, being proactive in the process. Communication is key, just talking with your suppliers and making sure they know your needs up front, ahead of time so they can plan,” Westrom said.

Unfortunately for those farmers, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association says those precautions are well-spent.

“The Cochin pipeline is now carrying Canadian oil instead of propane and that pipeline brought 36 percent of Minnesota’s propane supply,” said Minnesota Corn Growers Association spokesperson Adam Czech.

The fields are planted and it will be a few months before they return to harvest their crops, but farmers are being asked to plan for that season already.

“Get your storage tanks filled up, try to plan out how much propane you might need in the event that it’s a wet crop again, and hopefully that helps somewhat in lessening the blow in not making it quite as bad as it was last year,” Czech said.

For some farmers, that is easier said than done.

“Everybody’s really different, but I would say to put a number on it, guys probably have enough to dry a day’s worth of harvest, and then you need to get filled up again,” Westrom said.

Czech said that it may be tough to predict how wet the fall might be. That is why they would rather have the farmers be safe than sorry when it comes to their propane supply.

Some farmers tell us they have made the switch to natural gas for their drying purposes.

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