Shipping season is open for CHS in Superior, Wis.
The Solina was loaded with durum wheat at the CHS Superior, Wis., terminal on May 8.
By Kevin Hunt
The arrival of the Solina in the port of Duluth-Superior on May 7 marked the start of the 2023 commercial navigation season for the CHS Superior, Wis., terminal.
The weather in the port typically gives vessels about eight months to get in and out, from April to December, allowing CHS to ship grain via the St. Lawrence Seaway.
“It’s always exciting to get that first vessel in here, and it’s also kind of a sign that spring and summer are right around the corner,” says Dan Vandenhouten, terminal operations manager at CHS Superior.
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Crews loaded the Solina this week with durum wheat grown by CHS farmer- and member-owners in North Dakota (Dickinson, Williston and Milton) and Montana (Macon). It took about 20 hours to fill the vessel. When the Solina leaves the terminal, it will head for Algeria.
“This liner is taking 720,000 bushels of durum,” Vandenhouten says. “That’s approximately 20,000 acres.”
The Superior terminal is an important location for CHS. Built in 1936, it is the largest grain shipper in the Superior port, handling about 60 to 70 percent of the port’s total grain volume.
CHS exports grain from Superior primarily to customers in Algeria, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Spain, the United Kingdom and Venezuela. Recent years have seen CHS load about 30 to 40 vessels at Superior. Each vessel holds the equivalent of about 200 rail cars.
“Our biggest asset here is our overall storage capacity at 18 million bushels,” says Vandenhouten. “We have 504 concrete silos and 15 steel tanks that make up that storage capacity. So we’re able to leverage the different wheat that’s grown by our farmer- and member-owners and bring it in and keep it separated.”
The Superior terminal also loads and unloads rail cars year-round for grain shipments in the U.S.
Across its global network of terminals, CHS has the capacity to export 1 billion bushels of owners’ grain to overseas markets. The U.S. exports about 5 billion bushels annually.
The May 7 arrival of the Solina in Superior is toward the later window of the sight of the first ship at the terminal. The first vessel usually arrives at CHS between mid-April to mid-May.
For more information about the loading of the Solina and the importance of grain exports by CHS, see this MPR story.