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Distributing propane

October 30, 2013 - Kriss Nelson
Last week a few Iowa newspapers declared that harvest may come to a halt due to a shortage of propane in Iowa's pipelines.

That wasn't correct.

Farmers were told by their LP suppliers that they'd have to wait, but that's because the situation is more a distribution problem, rather than a supply problem.

I spoke with Tim Schutt, manager of Enterprise Products, aka Mid-American Pipeline, and he confirmed they had propane in the pipe, but were challenged in getting product to customer.

Likewise, Harold Hommes, energy analyst for IDALS, said Iowa's seasonal demand is tracking solid in the normal range.

"It's takes a little time to get this rabbit through the snake," he said. The problem is with the late-harvest, due to late-planted fields is requiring more propane in late-November than usual. USDA-NASS on Monday said just half of the corn crop is in, slightly behind the five-year average, which calculated as almost 25 percent of Iowa's total production taken combined in a single week.

Soybeans were 87 percent harvested, two days ahead of the average.

Schutt said he thinks farmers were getting their soybeans out of the field and into storage last week ahead of this week's rain forecasts.

So there was a lot of strain to get propane delivered to where it was needed, Hommes said.

He expects this week's rain to slow down harvest and drying, and give suppliers a chance to get product spread around the state and things should be ready for ore drying but the time fields dry enough to continue harvest.


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