New Sukup 1.3 million-bushel corrugated steel grain storage tank at Farmers Cooperative Association in Varna, IL is shown in the foreground.
Farmers Cooperative Association (FCA), a single-location coop in Varna, IL (309-463-2061), adds new storage almost every year.
In 2019, the coop added its first tank manufactured by Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield, IA (641-892-4222), after its longtime construction partner, Grain Flo Inc., Heyworth, IL (800-842-4875), became a Sukup dealer.
General Manager Jay Junker Jr. says that at the time, the company wanted to go with a million-bushel-plus tank to accommodate the ever-increasing grain yields and volume in north central Illinois.
“The cost per bushel of a 135-foot-diameter tank is significantly lower than the 105-foot tanks we had been building,” Junker says.
There was one problem in going to a larger tank – FCA wanted the larger tank to have sidedraws, which would allow the coop to load trucks by gravity without turning on any grain handling equipment.
In 2019, sidedraws weren’t available in Sukup million-bushel-plus tanks, which had been offered since 2009.
The conventional thinking was that sidedraws would weaken the sidewalls too much, which already had to withstand the tremendous pressure exerted by more than a million bushels of grain.
Twenty miles to the south in Roanoke, IL, Roanoke Farmers Association (309-923-3841), faced a similar situation.
“We decided to add a big tank in May 2020 because we anticipated a lot of demand destruction due to COVID-19, and we needed a place to store excess corn,” says General Manager Terry Bline.
“That didn’t happen, but then demand from ethanol plants increased, and we also wanted to phase out some bolted steel tanks that date back to the 1960s.”
What sealed the deal on a 135-foot tank, the coop’s fifth from Sukup, was the availability starting in 2020 of sidedraw spouts in tanks of that size, he says.
As a result, both coops in 2020 engaged Grain Flo to construct nearly identical 1.3-million-bushel Sukup tanks, each with two sidedraw spouts 180 degrees apart. Both tanks were ready for the 2020 harvest.
Brent Hansen, Sukup commercial sales manager, says the manufacturer took a number of proprietary steps to strengthen its sidewalls to handle openings for sidedraws.
“Some responsibility remains with the tank owner,” he says, “Unloading operations need to be managed so tanks are emptied evenly around the circumference.”
In addition to Grain Flo, other contractors on the project included Wieber Steel Construction L.L.C., for bin jacking; Wagenbach Concrete Construction, Inc. handling concrete work; and KDJ Sales & Service, Inc. for electrical work.
Ed Zdrojewski, editor
From the January/February 2021 GRAIN JOURNAL
View this case study and more in the Grain Journal January February 2021 magazine.