Harvest propane

For some farmers the late harvest has been compounded by a shortage or delay in delivery of propane fuel needed to dry corn down so it can be stored.

With shortages or delays in delivery of propane farmers need to dry their corn crop, Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday lifted restrictions on the number of hours liquid fuel delivery drivers can work.

Walz met with farmers and ranchers in East Grand Forks on Tuesday and heard concerns about a shortage of propane, diesel and other fuel oils compounding problems from the late harvest.

Shortages of fuels appears to be a bigger issue in regions outside the Mankato area.

“I’m not hearing of propane shortages in this area,” said Kent Thiesse, farm management analyst at MinnStar Bank in Lake Crystal.

“Out in western Minnesota there have been some shortages or difficulty getting it delivered.”

Farmers need to dry their corn down to a certain percentage of moisture so they can store it without it spoiling. The moisture content in corn this year has been higher than in average years, requiring longer drying times before it goes into storage bins.

According to a release from the governor’s office, a spike in demand has forced drivers to spend more time waiting for terminals to refill trucks and some terminals are running out or low on supplies, forcing drives to travel farther to get filled up.

The Journal Times in Madison reports similar actions have been taken by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. The newspaper said problems have been compounded because of outages in the ONEOK propane pipeline, which provides fuel to Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota.

“For many family farmers, this year’s wet weather has been devastating,” MFU President Gary Wertish said in a statement. “Farmers Union thanks Gov. Walz for taking this step to make things a little easier for family farmers during this stressful time.”

The order specifies that carriers must still not allow a fatigued or ill driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle. A driver who informs a carrier that he or she needs immediate rest must be given at least 10 consecutive hours off before returning to work.

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