Southwest of the Wichita Mountains, in the heart of cattle country and Tornado Alley, agribusiness firm Gavilon Grain, LLC has staked its claim to export wheat market accessibility. The company, which has roots as Peavey Company and acquired DeBruce Companies in 2010, occupies the No. 3 position for most grain storage in the United States. Just behind Cargill and ADM, Gavilon holds 300 million bushels of grain across 21 states and Mexico.
Now, building off this momentum, Gavilon Grain is expanding its operations through a strategic greenfield development in the Southwest.
In December 2009, construction began on the company’s Headrick, OK-based 1.2-million-bushel slipform concrete elevator to handle hard red winter wheat produced within a 75-mile radius of the facility. In addition to the permanent structure, two temporary storage piles offer an additional 4 million bushels of storage. The site, previously a wheat field, loads 110-car Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) shuttle trains on a 7,875-foot loop track.
“We’ve seen a lot of expansion and growth in the grain business brought on by railroads and the global demand for grains,” location manager Mark Sethre explains. “Gavilon saw an opportunity for a facility in this area.”
Gavilon also owns and operates elevators in Wichita Falls, TX, and Saginaw, TX. Grain leaving these facilities and the Headrick location is shipped to the Texas gulf — Houston and Galveston — for export to Africa, Middle East, Caribbean and Latin America.
Though the Headrick facility has the capacity to hold more than 5 million bushels of wheat, unfortunately, it will not be able to realize its total potential during its first wheat harvest in full operation. Drought and high temperatures delivered the wheat harvest early in southwestern Oklahoma, severely impacting producer yields by as much as 70% in some areas. Luckily, the company’s move into this market has provided local producers with new marketing opportunities at a crucial time.
“As a mid-sized corporate farm, having an additional option in the area has been helpful this year,” explains Gary Nason, farm manager with Skelley & Skelley in Rocky, OK. Nason notes that the 3,500-acre farm’s ability to utilize its on-farm storage allowed it to have multiple marketing options. This, Nason says, proved to be the silver lining in an otherwise dire situation. (Drought sidebar is on page 20.)
The facility is projected to handle 10 to 12 million bushels in a normal weather year.
Happenings at new facility
Grain movement through the Headrick location is extremely streamlined, enhancing the ease of doing business for customers and Gavilon employees alike. Vigen Construction served as millwright and general contractor for the facility, and Van Sickle Allen provided the architectural and engineering services.
Workflow begins at the west end of the site where producer trucks enter and approach the facility’s grading area. An Intersystems probe takes a sample, and the wheat is fed through a MCi Kicker Grain Tester.
All producers have a scan card that is swiped at the card reader and scanned into the Cultura Technologies (formerly AGRIS Inc.) oneWeigh System to generate a ticket for that load.
After the load is probed and sampled, the truck proceeds to the Mettler Toledo scale east of the probe shack, and the card is scanned again to record the truck’s pre-dump weight.
From there, the truck heads to one of two 900-bushel receiving pits to unload the product. The elevator utilizes two Intersystems legs, a 40,000 bushels/hour or a 20,000 bushels/hour leg, to bring the grain up into the elevator via Tapco elevator buckets.
After it unloads, the truck falls back in line to the scale without stopping at the probe shack. The card is scanned again to capture the post-dump weight and a ticket is printed out for the driver.