Cloud County Coop begins construction on storage bunkers
With an idea for expansion that was seeded 11 years ago, the Cloud County Co-op Elevator Association has begun work on a facility that will boost its storage capacity by 2.8 million bushels.
"Cloud County Coop was asked by AgMark to find a bunker site," said general manager Mark Paul. "That proved to be difficult for awhile. Much of what we found was in the flood plain."
The Coop needed emergency storage space because of the tremendous amount of grain it is handling.
"Last year was a massive harvest," Paul said. "We did a year's business in about three months. Last year we handled 18,000 more trucks than the year before. Burlington Northern Railroad told us we were the busiest train loading facility in the continental United States."
Paul expects another record harvest this fall, and needs the storage space in case there is an interruption in their transportation system. "We're on pace to do again what we did last year, and we rely heavily on the railroad to keep us moving. We had to consider what would happen if we didn't get that train every day. We ship a lot to Beaumont, Texas, and Houston, and the recent hurricanes affected that. We want to have a place for our farmers to unload their grain, so we need the capability to store the overflow."
The Coop purchased 81 acres from Delmer Meyer on property west of Concordia, off of Highway 9, and began construction of three storage bunkers. One of the bunkers will have the capacity to hold 1.2 million bushels of grain; the other two bunkers will have a capacity of about 800,000 bushels each.
The entire construction project is budgeted at $1.3 million.
"We hope to have the first bunker operational by October," Paul said. "We're also working with KDOT (Kansas Department of Transportation) on construction of an entrance off the highway, and we hope to begin work on that soon."
Paul pointed out that the facility is being built with the concerns of neighbors in mind. "We are cognizant that we will have residential neighbors, and we're doing a lot to minimize the dust, noise and light levels. We're planting a tremendous number of trees out there."
Paul says the Coop Elevator will be able to meet the anticipated demand this fall, and for years to come. "I think we're going to see more and more fall crops, and we're in a much better position now to meet the expected demand than we've ever been."