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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vancouver-based United Grain Corp. optimistic despite low wheat yields forecast

Region expects below average production but last year’s harvest ‘bountiful’

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: July 13, 2023, 6:08am
2 Photos
United Grain Corp. facilities at the Port of Vancouver handles wheat, corn, soybeans and sorghum.
United Grain Corp. facilities at the Port of Vancouver handles wheat, corn, soybeans and sorghum. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

With grain merchants predicting low wheat yields in the Pacific Northwest, the region’s grain elevator could see less wheat coming in from Washington and Oregon farms this year.

Vancouver-based United Grain Corp. moves more than just wheat, however. The company moves corn, soybeans and sorghum, too.

Despite challenging growing conditions for local farmers, the company doesn’t expect to see a significant decrease in grains going through its Columbia River system.

Brian Liedl, director of merchandising at United Grain, said the company remains “optimistic we will be able to find enough exportable surplus to meet our customers’ needs.”

The company sells its grains to customers around the world. Part of that travels through its grain elevator at the Port of Vancouver.

While the year is expected to see below average wheat production grown in the region, Liedl called last year’s harvest “bountiful.”

What the wheat harvest and export will look like statewide is still up in the air. According to the Washington Grain Commission, Washington’s farmers are still under 5 percent harvested. So more will be known in the coming weeks. The commission expects wide variability between growing regions.

“The United States has the world’s best network of grain storage facilities, which will allow for some wheat carried over from last year,” Liedl said. “That should help insulate some of this year’s lower production.”

United Grain doesn’t just source its grains from Oregon and Washington. Of the company’s entire draw area, grain producers in Walla Walla and across the Northwest are some of the worst off, Liedl said. That’s due to the lack of spring moisture, he added.

“Other areas, such as Montana, are better off than last year,” Liedl said. Sourcing grains from varying places helps to insulate United Grain’s customers from some of the ups and downs of farming in specific regions.

“The agriculture market is persistently fraught with risk,” Liedl said. Still, he said his company is ready for it.

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