Liquid plant undergoes major overhaul

Big changes have taken place at the CHS liquid fertilizer plant, which is located northeast of Holyoke, CO.  Originally built in 2000, the plant and its components were becoming obsolete and challenging to repair and operate.  Thanks to countless hours from CHS employees, both local and some from South Dakota, the liquid plant underwent a complete upgrade to serve area growers in a more efficient manner.

Simply put, the liquid plant blends fertilizer for growers.  Eighty-five percent of what leaves the plant goes straight to growers’ farms.  The plant in NE Colorado serves as a hub to get product in and out.  Bulk fertilizer comes in on a rail car and leaves via truck, blended to the farmer’s specifications and delivered to their farm.  Deliveries stretch from SW Nebraska to western Logan County in Colorado, then south to Yuma County, Colorado.

The liquid plant renovation project began in December 2019, with the first load being hauled out from the new facility in April 2020.  The updated liquid plant now boasts a new, fully automated system, new bulk storage tanks, re-routed piping to increase efficiency, upgraded pumps and a building to house micro-nutrients.  Thanks to the fully automated system, farmers will be able to load fertilizer 24/7 from the plant.  Currently, CHS employees are the only ones who can load at any time of day, but it is the goal to have the system set up by this fall for growers to load their own product at any time.

In addition to increasing efficiency of the liquid plant, the improvements will make CHS more competitive in the marketplace.  Product can be sourced faster because bigger units can be taken in.  The cost savings of buying large bulk units can be passed on to the grower.  It is the goal of all involved with the project to continue growing the market in Colorado and SW Nebraska.

Freeing phosphorus: New ways to add crop nutrient availability

An innovative option makes broadcast crop nutrient applications more available.

Farmers wouldn’t be satisfied with just 20 percent weed control from a herbicide application, but that’s typically the best nutrient availability they can expect from dry phosphate fertilizer applications.

“Under the best soil conditions, only one-fifth of applied phosphorus may be available to the crop throughout the season,” says Steve Carlsen, Levesol and crop enhancement manager, CHS Agronomy. “Availability is even less when soil pH levels are too high or too low or in soils that contain too little organic matter.”

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Celebrating Five Years of the Shuttle

“Creating connections to empower agriculture.”  This is CHS’ purpose and a guiding principle for directing business operations.  CHS Grainland made a significant investment to create connections for our area growers in 2015, when the shuttle facility opened northeast of Holyoke.  Five years and 108 trains later, the shuttle gives global commodity marketing options to eastern Colorado and western Nebraska farmers.

The addition of the shuttle opened doors for different grain marketing strategies, which benefits our growers because it gives them a better basis for their crops.  Utilizing rail transportation vs. semi-trucks allows grain to move quickly and travel great distances.  One train loaded at the shuttle averages 435,000 bushels.  This is the equivalent of 375 grain trucks!  Shipping grain via rail presents a timing advantage that CHS Grainland didn’t possess prior to the shuttle.

Since the shuttle facility opened in 2015, 108 trains have been loaded as of May 13, 2020.  Corn, wheat and milo have been shipped out via rail, with each commodity destined for various locations.  Corn trains typically head into Mexico or to the Gulf of Mexico.  Occasionally corn will head to California ethanol plants or Texas feedlots.  Wheat can go to either the Pacific Northwest (PNW) or the Gulf of Mexico to be exported, or it will go to domestic mills to be made into flour.  Milo goes to the PNW or the gulf to be exported overseas.  

Loading one train takes anywhere from six and a half to eight hours.  Once the railroad delivers the train to the shuttle, CHS employees take over the controls and have 15 hours to get it loaded.  Usually a team of seven employees is used to load a train, which has an average of 115 rail cars.  One employee operates the train locomotives.  Three employees open and close the individual railcar lids and put seals on.  The seals are put in place for tracking purposes and show that the contents of the car have not been tampered with prior to arrival at the final destination.  One employee ensures bottom gates do not leak and hoists new seals up to employees on top of the car.  One employee controls the flow of grain into the railcars and coordinates the locomotive movements.  Another employee will set and release individual car brakes to assist in the movement of the train, checks the elevator facility as the grain is loaded, and takes care of any elevator issues that arise.

While the train is being loaded, small samples of grain are automatically sent down to a lab staffed by third party USDA certified grain grading individuals who ensure that the grain going into the cars meets certain specifications set forth via the buyers.  These will be the official grades used in the sales transaction of the grain.

CHS Grainland is one of four grain elevators in the region that have shuttle capacities and the ability to ship large quantities of grain out via rail.  The facility has succeeded in creating connections and opening new market opportunities for our local growers.

Frank Struck, Jr. hired as credit manager

We are pleased to announce that Frank Struck, Jr. has been hired to manage credit for our customers and owners. Frank will be providing support for the three Colorado CHS business units: CHS Grainland, CHS M&M, and CHS AIP.

Frank started in his new role with CHS on April 13, 2020 and brings a variety of experiences and knowledge to this new position.  He has been in the credit and collections business for the past 20 plus years. He began his career in third party collections, then became a legal investigator for an insurance subrogation law firm. Most recently, Frank has spent the last 11 years in the loss mitigation and credit risk department at the fourth largest credit union in Colorado.  Frank grew up in Denver and received an Associate of Arts in Spanish from the Community College of Aurora and a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership from CSU Global.  Currently, Frank lives with his two sons in Brighton and is looking forward to relocating to northeastern Colorado by the end of July.

In this new role, Frank will be working with our customers to find credit solutions tailored to their specific needs. He is also responsible for managing credit in accordance with the CHS Global Credit Policy.

You can reach Frank at 970-466-3420 or frank.struck@chsinc.com.

Micronutrients 101: Going Back to Basics

This article first appeared in the LIFT newsletter, a publication of CHS Agronomy. Read the entire article.

As growers finalize planting preparations and plan in-season fertilizer and sidedress applications, they may be looking for solutions for micronutrients deficiencies identified by soil or tissue sampling on their most productive acres. What are the most essential micronutrients and what products can help with yield and profitability?

The essential micronutrients include Zinc (Zn), Iron (Fe), Boron (B), Copper (Cu), Molybdenum (Mo) and Manganese (Mn).

  • They are considered micros because they are needed in smaller amounts compared to macronutrients by the plant.
  • Many micronutrients hold the key to how well the other nutrients are used; attribute to how well the plant develops and effects the total yield it will produce come harvest.
  • They also help feed the microorganisms in the soil to perform important steps in various nutrient cycles of the growing process.
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CHS reports $125.4 million in second quarter net income

Sunset over a farm

April 8, 2020

Dear Owners:

We are pleased to share our second quarter results for fiscal year 2020. We reported net income of $125.4 million for the second quarter of fiscal year 2020, which ended Feb. 29, 2020. This compares to net income of $248.8 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2019.

The company reported revenues of $6.6 billion for the second quarter of fiscal year 2020 compared to revenues of $6.5 billion for the second quarter of fiscal year 2019. In the first six months of fiscal year 2020, CHS reported net income of $303.3 million compared to net income of $596.3 million in the first six months of fiscal year 2019.

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Update on COVID-19 from Jay Debertin

Dear valued customers and owners:

As our essential businesses work to meet spring season demands amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to focus on the health and safety of every person and community connected to CHS and the cooperative system.

We want you to know that CHS remains fully operational and committed to providing the essential products and services you need. Our supply chain is prepared and moving into action as spring fieldwork begins. Grain is moving and the spring shipping season has begun. We are grateful for those positive signs.

Thank you for your business. Please let us know how we can help you navigate through the days and weeks ahead.

Sincerely,

Jay D. Debertin
President and CEO

Ag is essential infrastructure. CHS locations continue to operate.

As you have likely heard, the governor of the state of Colorado has issued an order requiring nonessential businesses to reduce the number of people working at work locations by 50 percent. Consistent with guidance from the United States Department of Homeland Security, the order exempts certain essential infrastructure and services, including agriculture and food.

After a full review of the order, CHS has determined that its operations fit within this exemption and we will continue to operate to provide essential products and services so cooperatives, retailers and farmers can plant and grow crops, raise livestock and bring the food they produce to market.

Below is a letter from CHS to our customers and growers in Colorado.

Download the letter here.

Updates on COVID-19

March 20, 2020

As you are aware, the impact of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 continues to rapidly evolve. Safety is a core value for CHS and includes a focus on the health and wellbeing of our employees, families, customers and owners, and the communities in which we live and work.

We understand that spring is here, and we want to emphasize; we are open for business. We are simply adjusting some protocols. CHS has implemented the following changes effective Friday March 20, 2020, until further notice: 

  • We are limiting access at all locations. We respectfully ask you to contact us through phone or email whenever possible. Staff that can work remotely have been asked to do so and will be available via phone or e-mail.
  • If you need a grain check, please contact us. We can mail it or arrange for a convenient time for you to pick it up.
  • All visitors, vendors and drivers to our office will be required to complete a questionnaire before entering our facilities. We are also asking all staff, visitors, vendors and drivers to adhere to the 6-foot distance recommended by the CDC to reduce virus spread.
  • For in-home propane leak checks, inspections or service; customers will be asked to complete a simple screening questionnaire prior to any CHS employee providing in-home service work.
  • We have restricted face-to-face meetings. Our sales staff will conduct business via phone, text or email. As a company that prides itself on the relationships we have built, this will be a difficult change. However, face-to-face meetings pose a greater risk for everyone involved. If you need to conduct critical business that requires an in-person meeting, please call for an appointment to confirm access to the facility and availability of staff.
  • We ask you to call ahead for product pickup whenever possible, our team will ensure that everything is ready to load upon your arrival.
  • For those customers or vendors delivering grain or picking up products, we ask that you limit your time in the office to essential business. At some locations, we are asking drivers to remain in their cab. Please check our location policies or watch for information and direction upon arrival.
  • Our convenience stores remain open. The delis and eat-in areas are closed. The A&W restaurant in Ogallala is drive-through only.

We will adjust our practices as necessary in the coming days, weeks or months. Rest assured, it is our commitment that we will continue to provide excellent service and support throughout this unprecedented time, even if we must do it differently. We value your business, your trust in CHS and appreciate your understanding during this time. We look forward to resuming normal interactions as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.

© 2021 CHS Inc.