Lakes Gas Blog

CornLast fall's propane shortage and wet weather left farmers scrambling to properly dry their grain. We don't know what this harvest season will hold, but with a few handy tips from Corn and Soybean Digest, you'll be able to handle whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

Screen it

You know that saying "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch." That's true with grain, too. Broken or tiny kernels can block airflow to your high-quality grain, so separate them out with a rotary screen or gravity screen. That way, they won't spoil your good crops.

Customize it

Corn is usually dried at 15 to 20 percent for long-term storage. But your low-quality corn has different needs. You'll need to dry that at about two points lower than average to avoid mold issues that could ruin the crop.

Lower it

High drying temperatures can cause cracks or breaks. Limiting the drying temperature on high-moisture corn can help avoid these issues.

Core and level it

After you've screen-cleaned your grain, it's ready for the storage bin. After you fill the bin, you'll notice broken pieces, cobs, and other debris have accumulated in the center. Remove these items to ensure proper airflow. Then level the grain to prevent moisture build-up on top of the bin that could lead to mold.

Need propane for your grain drying operation? Talk to a Lakes Gas sales representative today.

Propane Train CarYou might use propane every day, but did you ever stop to wonder how that propane gets to your door?

If you're a customer of Lakes Gas Co, you probably know your delivery guy, but there's a lot that happens behind the scenes in getting propane gas from the terminal to our plant locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and South Dakota.

Propane is primarily shipped via pipeline, but it is also frequently transported in liquid form through the use of tanker trucks and rail cars.

Let's take a look at rail transportation. Rail Transportation is the safest way to transport propane since the risk of collision on rail is far less than that of a tanker truck on a highway. Let's take a look at why:

Safety Features

Propane transportation involves special measures to prevent leaks or other hazards. According to the Propane Education and Research Council, everything from the tank car design to the color of the tanks to the lettering on them helps ensure safe transportation of propane.

Cylindrical propane tank are built for safety and undergo rigorous testing. They're protected by thick steel at each end to prevent punctures. They're also equipped with thermal protection in the event of a fire.

Recently, even more safety features have been added. In 2011, The Association of American Railroads adopted guidelines including thicker tank shells and additional protection for the top fittings and the ends of each propane tank to decrease the chance of punctures.

Color and Plate Markings

You may have noticed white and black tanks on tracks when you're stopped at a railroad crossing. Tanks of both colors carry propane. You know not to paint your personal tank any color but white, as it could absorb more heat from the sun possibly causing excessive pressure to build-up inside the tank, so why isn't this an issue with black rail cars that transport propane?

Since propane is shipped in liquid form, there's no chance it will heat up and expand, as gas does. The colors are designed as a code for HazMat teams in the event of an accident. White cars signify thermal insulation and black cars signify a jacketed tank car. Knowing the kind of tank car helps HazMat teams know how to respond in the case of an emergency.

Each propane tank has a plate attached to it marked with a series of letters. These letters may look random, but they let the HazMat teams know the features of the tank such as pressure and capacity.

Fill-up and Delivery

Each tank car contains a valve opening, located at the top of the tank car. These openings are where propane is loaded and unloaded from the tank. The valves are protected by a dome to prevent damage or tampering.

Railroad cars are loaded and unloaded at stations called risers at the plant. These risers are equipped with platforms and ladders so hoses can be connected to the valves for unloading the propane. Each riser has connections for liquid and vapor hoses. The hoses connect to piping that transfer the propane to the bulk storage tanks at the plant.

At the propane distribution center, a compressor takes propane vapor from the bulk plant tank and forces it into a designated vapor space of the tank car. The vapor pushes the propane liquid through its valves and plant piping to be stored back in the bulk storage tank at the plant.

When all the liquid propane is removed, there is still propane vapor left in the tank. The compressor is used to turn this vapor into liquid propane so it can be easily transferred to the bulk tank.

Then, it is transferred to a delivery vehicle called a bobtail so it can be delivered to your home in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, or any other Lakes Gas service area.

So now you know the journey your propane takes before you use it to heat your home. Next time you fire up the grill or crank up the heat, you'll know it might not have been possible without railroads.

The propane shortage of 2013 caught many users by surprise- resulting in panic for many who depend on propane to dry their crops, heat their homes, or fuel scores of other day-to-day activities.

This year, many consumers are taking action to better prepare in case of another propane shortage.

A recent article by C Magazine, a trade publication by farm cooperative CHS, outlined some tactics farmers are taking to avoid running out of propane this year. Here are some tips from the article.

Increase your storage

Scott Judisch, a North Dakota farmer interviewed for the story, said he plans to add more propane storage this year- a 30,000 gallon tank that will hold his estimated requirements for the season.

Increasing your storage capacity now is a great way to ensure you have the propane you need. Fill up those tanks and it’ll be business as usual for you, even if other consumers are waiting weeks for their deliveries.

Stock up during the off-season

Locking in low prices now can benefit you if another shortage occurs. During shortages, many companies halt taking new customers so they can serve customers with existing programs, like Lakes Gas Co. did last year. You’ll enjoy locked in prices while those who waited for cold weather to buy will pay major premiums, or not be able to purchase at all.

Need to stock up now? Contact Lakes Gas Co. and ask about our pre-buy programs.

Bonnie S. from our Lakes Gas Co. - Kingsford, Michigan location has kindly submitted a recipe that would be great for a 4th of July party or a cool, sweet treat at the end of a hot summer day!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12 ounce) container of Cool Whip
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (make sure it is chilled)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can frozen lemonade (keep frozen)
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust (buy already made or make on in pie pan)

Instructions:

  1. Whip together Cool Whip and sweetened condensed milk until stiff (do not over beat).
  2. Add the frozen lemonade then whip again. Be careful not to let it get soupy. Mixture should be quite thick.
  3. Pour into your pie shell. 
  4. Can top with candied lemon shavings (optional).
  5. Place into freezer (best overnight).
  6. Remove from freezer only a few minutes before serving.
  7. Cut with sharp knife.

Thank you, Bonnie!

Enjoy!

 

Are you hitting the road this summer to see the country from your recreational vehicle?

Before you get behind the wheel, take some time to learn about your vehicle’s propane system. A little knowledge will make it easy to stay safe and have fun this summer. Here’s a rundown from the Propane Education and Research Council

What should I get checked?

Be sure to get your propane system checked by a certified dealer once a year to ensure everything is working properly and there are no leaks. Older propane tanks should be checked to ensure they have an overfill protection device and working intake and exhaust vents to prevent blockages caused by debris.

It’s important to remember that RVs generally change hands many times. They may be resold, rented, or rebuilt frequently. Previous owners may have modified the propane system by replacing the propane cylinders with a larger one or installing vent protectors, or propane taps for barbecue grills, generators, and other propane appliances. You’ll want to know what modifications have taken place so you can report them when your vehicle is inspected.

What modifications can I make to my propane tank?

You may need to upgrade your RV, but you should not paint propane cylinders, valves, or mounting equipment. Doing so could cover up service issues that could be dangerous if left alone. And painting a cylinder a dark color can make it absorb more sun, causing the gas to expand, which could lead to an explosion.

Can I keep my propane system on while I’m driving?

PERC recommends against it. Though some RV owners drive with the system on to run their air conditioning and keep their refrigerators cold, doing so causes huge risks. During travel, a line can break causing propane to escape into the RV and ignite with the smallest flame.

When you consider that most RV refrigerators can keep groceries cold for hours even when they’re turned off, riding with your system on doesn’t seem worth the risk.

 Whatever you decide, be sure to turn off your propane system when refueling, as neglecting to do so can cause large explosions.

Follow these tips and have a great time this season!

 
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