Delphos Co-op employee Sandy Fruits takes a wheat sample from a customer.
Tucked into north central Kansas is a small town, home to about 350 people, called Delphos. Grace Bedell, the 11-year-old girl famous for writing a letter to Abe Lincoln encouraging him to grow a beard, once lived here. Delphos streets may be quiet most of the year, but on a hot June day the amount of trucks passing through town nearly double the number of people who call it home.
“At the high point of wheat harvest, we can serve as many as 600 grain trucks a day,” said Steve Hoesli, general manager of the Delphos Co-op.
That’s impressive for a staff of only 11.
In a typical year, Delphos will take in 3 to 3 ½ million bushels of grain, which is about average for an independent co-op in Kansas. Nearly 80 percent of that grain will be transported out by truck on Kansas highways—the most common destinations being Concordia, Salina, and Kansas City.
“Transportation accounts for about half of our expenses. It’s a major factor of our business,” said Hoesli.
Agriculture is the largest economic driver in the state and transportation plays a key role in its success.
While the Delphos Co-op is served by the Kyle Railroad, trucking is more feasible for getting grain in and out of the facility given that much of it travels short distances initially. However, once the grain arrives at the larger facilities, it’s likely to be transported by rail to its final destination.
About 380 million bushels of winter wheat are produced in Kansas each year. Most of that will be transported on a Kansas highway at some point from the time it leaves the farm to the time it ends up in a loaf of bread on someone’s table.
With harvest underway in much of the state, motorists will be seeing more grain trucks and farm machinery on the roads soon and will want to use extra caution. Click here for some safety tips from the Kansas Highway Patrol.
With only a few area farmers having started cutting last week, Hoesli and staff have had the chance to ease into the harvest routine a bit. Early reports indicate the wheat will be good this year and that means it should make for a busy harvest. Soon hundreds trucks will be rumbling up and down the once quiet streets of Delphos, and the co-op staff will have the nearly impossible job of getting them through the elevator in a timely manner. But, they’re ready—it’s what they do.