Facility Feature
Morrow County Grain Growers Inc. Increases Steel Storage at Barge Terminal

Morrow County Grain Growers added 603,000 bushels of storage as part of its multi-phase rail-to-barge terminal expansion project.

Rail traffic jams major motivator for company's multi-phase $7.5 million expansion project

BOARDMAN, Ore. — The Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon/Washington state line has some of the nation’s most spectacular scenery.

Often, the Gorge also has some of the nation’s most spectacular rail traffic jams, as trains on the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe haul grain from the Midwest to Portland, OR and Columbia River export terminals.

That was a major impetus for Morrow County Grain Growers Inc. (MCGG) to invest in a $7.5 million expansion at the barge terminal it operates at the Port of Morrow at Boardman, OR (541-481-3230), upriver from the Gorge, says General Manager Kevin Gray. MCGG and the port authority are 50-50% owners of the facility. The newly expanded facility unloaded its first Union Pacific shuttle train from the Midwest on March 4.

“We continue to handle locally produced grain, as well, so among other things, we added a 603,000-bushel tank to handle the increased volume,” says Gray, who joined MCGG three years ago after working for Cargill and Growmark.

Terminal expansion enables 100- to 110-car shuttle trains

He cites a 2015 U.S. Department of Agriculture study that livestock numbers in the immediate area of northeast Oregon and southeast Washington provide a market just for corn of 56 million bushels alone, not including other feed grains.

The expansion enables MCGG to unload 100- or 110-car shuttle trains on the Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific. A loop track already existed at the site built by Port of Morrow for Pacific Ethanol, which operates an ethanol plant at Boardman.

To offload trains, MCGG installed a new receiving pit and leg capable of unloading railcars at 60,000 bph.

Then, a variety of commodities can be loaded onto barges tied up at the facility’s dock in the Columbia River, using existing conveyors and barge-loading equipment.

“This is really a strategic upgrade that’s going to add new life to the elevator,” Gray says. “From a logistics standpoint, we really think this is going to improve the amount of grain that works its way down the Columbia River system.”

The Port of Morrow strongly supported the project from beginning to end, says Gray, and in fact, the project was able to get off the ground when the port authority spearheaded an effort to solicit state support.

That support came in the form of a $2.5 million grant from Connect Oregon, an Oregon Department of Transportation program to upgrade the state’s infrastructure.

Steel storage adds 603,000 bushels

Gray says the cooperative looked at both concrete and steel storage in designing the expansion and concluded that in this situation, a steel tank provided the best value.

The 603,000-bushel Sukup corrugated steel tank stands 105 feet in diameter, 73 feet tall at the eave, and 102 feet tall at the peak. The tank is outfitted with outside stiffeners, a flat floor, a 24-cable Rolfes@Boone grain temperature monitoring system, a 4B rotary level indicator, and a 16-inch Springland zero entry bin sweep with a capacity of 10,000 bph.

A pair of Sukup 60-hp centrifugal fans provide 1/12 cfm per bushel of aeration through flush-floor ducting, with the assistance of four 2-hp roof exhausters.

The new tank is filled by an overhead 60,000-bph AGI Hi Roller enclosed belt conveyor with a 54-inch Scandura belt running out from a new leg and tower (see p. 25). It empties onto another 60,000-bph Hi Roller belt in a below-ground tunnel that runs back to the new receiving leg.

Key personnel, from left: Kevin Gray, general manager; Dan Steiner, grain originations; and Steve Biehler, grain operations manager and Boardman project manager.

Receiving leg handles 60,000 bph

Railcars deposit grain into a 2,400-bushel mechanical receiving pit. The rail shed is outfitted with a track-mounted Calbrandt railcar gate opener, which speeds the train unloading process. When there is no train blocking the way, truckers can use the pit, as well.

A below-ground 60,000-bph AGI Hi Roller enclosed belt conveyor takes grain from the pit to the boot section of a Schlagel 60,000-bph receiving leg. The leg is equipped with two rows of Maxi-Lift 24x10 heavy-duty buckets mounted on a 52-inch Continental belt.

The massive leg is powered by two Toshiba 200-hp motors. The dual motors allows the leg to continue operating while one motor is down for service. The leg is enclosed by a LeMar 16-foot-x-16-foot support tower with switchback stairs.

The leg deposits grain into a Schlagel four-duct Syncroset distributor. One spout can reach the 60,000-bph AGI Hi Roller belt out to the new tank, two spouts feed existing storage tanks, and a fourth connects to the barge-loading operation.

“We’re a small farmer-owned cooperative,” says Gray, “but we’re willing to work with the rest of the industry to provide put-through and a faster way to the West Coast export terminals.

“We’re willing to work with exporters to find a market for Midwestern grain shippers,” he continues. “And we’re capable of marketing the grain on our own to the local feed markets.”

Gray adds that the site has plenty of space for future storage expansion, as needed.

More about Morrow County Grain Growers:

  • Lexington, OR • 541-989-8221
  • Founded: 1930
  • Storage capacity: 7 million bushels at 10 locations
  • Annual volume: 12 million bushels
  • Annual revenues: $100 million
  • Number of members: 700
  • Number of employees: 80
  • Crops handled: Hard and soft white spring wheat, corn
  • Services: Grain handling and merchandising, feed, agronomy, energy, refined fuels, retail store, two Case-IH dealerships

Key personnel

  • Kevin Gray, general manager
  • Steve Biehler, grain operations manager/Boardman project manager
  • Brian Rust, facility manager
  • Brian Peiler, grain merchandising manager
  • Dan Steiner, grain originations
  • Brandon Smith, elevator operator

Suppliers for the project:

  • Aeration fans • Sukup Mfg. Co.
  • Air compressor • Ingersoll Rand
  • Bearing sensors • 4B Components Ltd.
  • Bin sweep • Springland Mfg. Inc.
  • Bucket elevators • Schlagel, Inc.
  • Catwalks • LeMar Industries
  • Contractor/millwright • The Haskins Company
  • Control system • Rockwell Automation/Townsend Controls & Electric LLC
  • Conveyors (belt) • AGI Hi Roller Conveyors
  • Conveyors (drag) • Schlagel, Inc.
  • Conveyor belting • Scandura Conveyor Belting
  • Distributor • Schlagel, Inc.
  • Dust collection system • Keigley & Co. Inc.
  • Dust filters • MAC, Schenck Process
  • Electrical contractor • Townsend Controls & Electric LLC
  • Elevator buckets • Maxi-Lift, Inc.
  • Engineering • Wambeke Engineering
  • Excavation • Connell Sand & Gravel
  • Fall protection • The Haskins Co.
  • Grain temperature system • Rolfes@Boone
  • Insurance • Alaska National, USI
  • Leg belting • Continental
  • Level indicators • 4B Components Ltd.
  • Motion sensors • 4B Components Ltd.
  • Motors • Toshiba International
  • Railcar gate opener • Calbrandt Inc.
  • Sheet pile • Montana Helical Pier
  • Steel building • Behlen Building Systems
  • Steel storage • Sukup Mfg. Co.
  • Steel tank erection • Allen Construction Inc.
  • Tower support system • LeMar Industries

Ed Zdrojewski, editor

Reprinted from March/April 2020 GRAIN JOURNAL

Equipment servicing the new 603,000-bushel Sukup steel storage tank includes a Schlagel 60,000-bph leg, LeMar support tower with switchback stairs, Schlagel distributor, and 60,000-bph AGI Hi Roller overhead fill conveyor.

Morrow County Grain Growers Gallery

Morrow County Grain Growers' adds storage as part of its long-term terminal expansion plans.

  • Morrow County Grain Growers tank
  • Morrow County Grain Growers train
  • Morrow County Grain Growers Calbrandt Railcar Oepner
  • Morrow County Grain Growers Schlagel distributor
  • Morrow County Grain Growers Conveyor
  • Morrow County Grain Growers Schlagel Leg
  • Morrow County Grain Growers Springland bin sweep
  • Morrow County Grain Growers steel tank conveyor
  • Morrow County Grain Growers equipment
  • Morrow County Grain Growers Barge

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