A near-record, high-moisture corn crop is prompting a shortage of propane for drying the grain. Harold Hommes, an energy analyst with the Iowa Department of Agriculture, says it’s a problem across the Corn Belt as 85-percent of grain drying is fueled with propane. Hommes says it’s triggered action from multiple farm state governors.
Hommes says, “We’ve now got eight or ten states all with an Hours of Service Waiver for commercial truck drivers, those with CDL, to get product and to essentially go over the normal allowed hours to get propane in place.”
It’s not a new problem and he calls to attention the need for expanded propane storage. “The pipeline simply can’t keep up in these times of high demand,” Hommes says. “Industry is going to have to work on some changes, but they’re a bit reluctant to do so because it’s sort of like building the church for Easter Sunday. You can’t just build that capacity on a fairly low-margin product and expect to get it paid for when it all centers around this two-month busy time for agriculture.”
In one way, he says farmers have been spoiled by the past few years of drought, with the crop doing much of its drying while it was still in the field.
(Reporting by Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)