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Tanker trucks line up to get propane on Friday Oct. 25, 2013, in Clear Lake, Iowa. Some farmers in North Iowa may have to stop harvesting crops because of a shortage of propane. Gov. Terry Branstad is suspending the specific hours that drivers can transport propane in Iowa.

Jeff Heinz, Associated Press - Ap

Propane shortage in Midwest could affect harvests

  • Associated Press
  • October 26, 2013 - 8:58 PM

MANKATO, Minn. — Demand for propane to dry crops has spiked, leading to problems distributing the fuel to farms across the Midwest.

Two factors are contributing to the shortage: unusually wet crops and simultaneous harvests that are otherwise staggered through the fall, the Mankato Free Press reported (http://bit.ly/1a7oxo2 ).

Farmers get better prices for crops that are below a certain level of moisture. Without enough propane to remove excess moisture, farmers are likely to leave their crop in the field until they can get more of the fuel. That won't necessarily hurt yield but it raises the risk of having to harvest in snow season, which is more challenging.

"It's a short-term distribution problem," said Roger Leider, an executive with the Minnesota Propane Association. "The supply is good. It's just not here."

He said harvests in Nebraska and elsewhere are generally wrapped up by now, but farmers didn't get their crop in as early as usual. Now, harvests that are generally staggered are taking place at the same time, making it harder to get enough propane to all the farmers who need it.

Harvests of the state's corn crop have already been delayed.

About 20 percent of the state's corn crop was harvested as of Oct. 20, compared to the five-year average of 49 percent by that date. And that corn has a moisture level of 21 percent, slightly above the five-year average of 19 percent.

Leider predicted the propane shortfall would begin to ease up as early as the coming week.

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