Topping off the propane tank in spring for harvesttime might sound crazy. But given market volatility and other factors, Mike Newland with the Propane Education and Research Council, says, “It’s a good message, to get out in front of this a little more.”
Thinking ahead could mean taking advantage of early-order discounts or other programs suppliers may offer. “We want to have farmers thinking further out, and giving them a longer window to have the conversations with suppliers and find a good time to book that propane,” says Newland, who’s director of agriculture business development at PERC.
“Energy, in general, has been crazy, and there’s volatility in every commodity,” Newland says. “Every day is a different day. The energy sector has been the same, driving prices at the pump.”
Newland adds that there is no shortage of propane for the market, but thinking ahead could help ensure supply and lock in a price.
Understand fall propane needs
PERC has developed a tool that farmers can use to estimate their future propane needs for grain drying. The Grain Dryer Calculator and Index tools are online helpers.
“If someone is looking to determine how many gallons of propane they may need to book in the fall, the calculator can help them during that planning conversation with a local propane marketer,” Newland says.
To use the calculator, you enter the acres, estimated bushels per acre and the points of moisture you want to take off the grain as it goes from field to bin. “If they harvest at 20% but want to store at 15%, the system can take that 5-point drop and provide a rough calculation of the gallons you may need,” Newland explains.
The whole idea, Newland says, is to start a conversation at a more advantageous time, rather than at the rush of harvest. “You can calculate your grain drying needs and get on the books of the supplier early,” he says.
Well ahead of curve
Newland does joke that it may sound ridiculous to talk about fall propane in the spring. But “there’s no harm in having guys think about it today,” he says. “It gives them a bigger window for a special price or a program, and just having that opportunity as opposed to getting into a situation in midsummer to get something done and missing a window.”
This year supply issues from seed to fertilizer and parts to whole machines have hammered farmers. Planning can pay off more so this year than in the past. Considering your options now for sourcing propane may offer some key pricing opportunities.
Check out the Grain Dryer Calculator at propane.com.