School may return to corn burningMITCHELL, S.D. - What’s good for the consumer isn’t always good for the farmer.
By: Ross Dolan The Daily Republic, Worthington Daily Globe
MITCHELL, S.D. - What’s good for the consumer isn’t always good for the farmer.
With completion of the state’s corn harvest right around the corner, the white-hot commodities market of spring and summer showed serious signs of cooling this week as corn, which sold for more than $5 a bushel just weeks ago, sagged below the $4 mark Thursday.
For those who grow corn for a living, that’s not so good. It’s just the opposite for those who burn corn for heat.
At Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary School in Mitchell, a $44,000 corn boiler that’s been gathering dust for the past two years might be reactivated if corn prices continue to fall, said Greg Girard, building and grounds supervisor for the Mitchell School District.
The corn boiler was installed for the 2005-06 school year to supplement the school’s gas-fired heating and hot water systems. When the school district first purchased the boiler, corn was selling for less than $2 a bushel. In its first full year of operation, the corn boiler saved the district around $8,000, but when corn prices rose, the corn boiler lost its competitive advantage and it was taken off-line.
“It’s going to have to be down around that $4 (a bushel) range for it to be cost-effective for us to burn corn,” Girard said.
There may be marginal savings at the current price of corn, but Girard said the school district is going to wait and watch the market a few more weeks before making any decision on purchasing corn.