Columbia Grain International loading grain photo

Crews with Columbia Grain International were loading the last of a ground pile of grain at their Fenn facility last Friday, Feb. 12, for trucks bound to the Port of Wilma.

FENN — “We pulled the trigger at the right time,” said Brandon Rehder.

The manager for Columbia Grain International’s South Camas Prairie area oversaw the last of a formerly 50-foot-tall grain pile loaded onto grain trucks last Friday morning, Feb. 12. Trucks were filled in multiple trips of 7,000-pound scoops, after which they departed with grain for the Port of Wilma. With the past week’s snowfall, portions of the tarp covering were removed at a time to protect the majority of the pile as sections were removed piece-meal.

Crews were out early to finish the job last Friday, working in a light snowfall in 10-degree temperatures, the treads of the Caterpillar excavator periodically spinning on the icy asphalt surface.

“They did an amazing job,” Rehder said, of crews working the pile in the cold the last several days.

“After a little cleanup and maintenance this spring,” he continued, “we’ll be ready for this coming year’s harvest.”

Clearing away the last of 2020’s harvest finishes this first job for CGI’s first ground pile on the Camas Prairie at its Fenn facility. The project was completed last August just a week ahead of the season’s harvest start, the culmination of a yearlong project to keep up with increasing harvests and the need for additional storage. At capacity, the 57,300-square-foot pile holds approximately one million bushels of grain.

Rehder said this finishes an 18-day project to empty the pile, which started on Jan. 19. Looking out from December, weather forecasts were favorable, and the decision was made to “pull the trigger” on moving the pile out.

The project has provided CGI’s South Prairie team with a year’s worth of experience to go into 2021, according to Rehder, knowing what to expect from the time grain trucks start offloading harvest this August, to when the pile is again ready to be picked up and shipped to the port.

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