Posts By: Anne Moore

Preparing Your Propane-Powered Home for Winter

 

Temperatures are dropping, which means many homeowners are turning up the thermostat to heat their homes. For those who heat their homes with propane, preparation can help make  for a safe and easy transition.

Rural homes in particular require extra steps to keep the inside warm and cozy all winter long. Below are some tips and tricks to help ensure your home is heated by propane  safely and efficiently all winter long.

Inside your home

1. Refill your tank at the beginning of the season. If possible, talk to your dealer about setting up automatic deliveries to make sure your heat stays consistent and you don’t have to worry about your tank running low.  Lastly, check your tank level prior to extreme weather or a long holiday weekend.

2. Have your heating and appliances checked by a technician. A check-up with a qualified service technician will ensure everything is running as efficiently as possible, which will help conserve fuel and save money on utilities.

3. Install a programmable thermostat. Homeowners save an estimated 10 percent per year by using a programmable thermostat. Be sure to set yours to a lower temperature when the house is empty.

4. Adjust your water heater. Heating water is usually a relatively large energy expense. If you haven’t already, set your water heater to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help cut down on costs.

5. Reverse your ceiling fan blades. Switching your ceiling fan’s blades to run clockwise will push warm air downward.

Outside your home 

1. Clean and store your propane grill. Be certain the tank valve is closed. Scrape any food off the grate, wipe down the outside and refer to the owner’s manual for additional cleaning suggestions. Make sure the grill and the grill cover are completely dry to avoid rusting. If possible, store your grill in a dry place as well.

2. Store only empty propane tanks inside. Ideally, after a long grilling season, your propane canister will be empty. However, if it’s not, don’t store your portable grill tank (or your grill, for that matter) inside your home.

3. Never use portable equipment inside. As much as we’d all like grilled steak in February, the inside of your home is not a safe place to use propane appliances like grills and generators.

4. Clear any debris in your propane appliance vents that may have accumulated (such as bird nesting material) over the summer months.

Preparing your household propane tank and appliances for winter is an important step to ensure the safety and efficiency of your heating. If any questions or uncertainties come up, reach out to our Certified Energy Specialist

Original Source: Andy Ernst CHS Propane Marketing Manager in Safety Tips

How a Larsen Co-op Scholarship Helped Matt

Matthew Johnson, son of CHS Employee Jennifer Johnson, was a recipient of a Larsen Cooperative scholarship back in 2010. After graduating from Iola-Scandinavia, he attended UW Oshkosh for five years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in business administration, graduating summa cum laude (“with highest honor”) in the spring of 2015. His honors thesis from UW Oshkosh was entitled “Reaping the Benefits of Meaningful Work.” With this senior research project, he found that people who consider their work to be meaningful (i.e., purposeful and fulfilling) experience work as energizing and inspiring, and that these experiences at work can spill over into non-work life, thereby enriching life as a whole. The project was published in the fall of 2016 in a scientific journal called Stress and Health.

Once he graduated from UW Oshkosh, he was accepted to Central Michigan University (CMU) in 2015 for their graduate program in industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology. With a scientific focus on workplace phenomena, I-O psychology applies the theories and methods of psychology to benefit individual employees, work teams, and entire organizations. For example, how can organizations identify the best candidates for a given job? How can they predict who will perform the job effectively? How can employers help their employees manage work-related stress and prevent the adverse physical and mental health issues that come with it? These are only a few of the questions addressed by I-O psychologists. A few relevant projects that Matt has worked on in grad school include the development of job interview questions, development of an organizational culture assessment, and development of questions for a mobile-phone based selection test for prospective call center employees.

Now entering his third year as a doctoral candidate at CMU, Matt is hard at work on his master’s thesis, studying for comprehensive exams, preparing to teach his first online class, and working on various other projects. His master’s thesis, another independent research project, investigates job crafting. Job crafting is the various ways that employees customize their jobs to better suit their abilities, needs, and preferences.

Once he completes the doctoral program at CMU, Matt hopes to begin a career as an organizational consultant, helping organizations develop systems and tools to identify the best job candidates, hire them, and develop them into outstanding employees.

When asked about the Larsen Scholarship, Matt said, “It was very helpful in getting me started as an undergraduate student. When companies like Larsen give scholarships to young people just starting college, they’re making an investment in those students, an investment in our workforce, and investment in the future of our country.”

CHS Larsen Cooperative encourages their patrons to share this scholarship opportunity with graduating seniors and students already in college. For more information on their scholarship program click here. Students can apply right online; applications are due March 15, 2018.

 

Weekly Grain Update – December 18, 2017

 

12/18/17

USDA Report

The USDA released its December crop report last Tuesday, and it adjusted several items on the supply and demand tables.  On corn, the bright spot was a 50 M bu increase in corn used in ethanol production.  Last weeks ethanol production was the second largest on record as the relative lower cost of corn is stimulating additional usage.  Although true, the ethanol industry is struggling with slimmer margins than in the past.  Current ethanol margins were 6 cents per gallon last week, and the average conversion rate now is one bushel of corn will produce 2.82 gallons of ethanol.  The USDA left exports unchanged at 1.925 B bu.  Even though corn exports have really been struggling as of late, there are signs that this situation could be changing.  Last week, the US did sell one cargo unit of corn to China, and Morocco and Mexico have also been recent buyers.  As corn makes new lows, our corn becomes more and more competitive on the world stage.  When the dust settled, corn ending stocks were reduced by 50 M bu down to 2.437 B bu.  Even though we are moving in the right direction, this is still a huge amount of corn that will continue to weigh on the market.

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Stay Warm This Winter: Propane Tank Maintenance

Some people love it, others may not, but the truth of the matter is that winter is on its way!  Stay warm this winter by keeping these tips in mind as it relates to your propane tank.

  • Keep a path from your driveway to your propane tank clear and free of snow. Failure to do so will impact our delivery team’s ability to fill your propane tank. We want to ensure you have heat all winter, but we need your help to ensure we can access it. We recommend clearing a path after each snowfall and whenever drifting occurs, to keep the path accessible for propane delivery trucks.
  • Keep your tank free from deep snow coverage. Propane tanks that are covered in deep snow are at greater risk for leaks, as the fittings, joints, and even the whole tank (with deep snowfall) can shift due to the weight of the snow.  Snow-covered tanks can also prevent any leaking gas from escaping, causing a dangerous gas build-up.  The snow also impacts how well your tank operates, as heavy cover can cause improper vaporization.  Stay safe and keep your propane system fully functioning by periodically brushing the tank off this winter.
  • Ensure safe practices when clearing snow. Keep safety top of mind around your propane tank this winter—be sure to exercise care when using heavy equipment to move snow, and use a broom (rather than a shovel) to clear snow from the tank to avoid puncturing the tank.
  • As always, if you smell gas, leave the area immediately! Avoid flames and sparks—don’t turn on light switches, and wait to use your cell phone until you are away from the area.  If it is safe to do so, turn off the main gas supply valve on the tank; then, report the leak, using a phone from a safe distance away from the leak.

If you have any questions regarding your propane service or are looking to lock in winter heating gallons, please give our office a call at 1-866-455-7200

The Importance of Drift Reduction Agents

Cenex® Winterized Premium Diesel Fuels

 

It is time to start thinking about winter diesel fuel. Cenex® Winterized Premium Diesel product line offers broad coverage to meet the unique needs of your equipment – from moderate temperatures to extreme winter cold and everything in between.

Our full line up of Cenex Winterized Premium Diesel Fuels includes:

Cenex Wintermaster® Winterized Premium Diesel is formulated with an operability of –30° F and a typical cold filter plugging point (CFPP) of –55° F. Cenex Wintermaster is specifically formulated for the demands of diesel powered equipment in the most extreme winter conditions.

Cenex Roadmaster XL® and Ruby Fieldmaster® Seasonally Enhanced Premium Diesel Fuels are formulated for moderate climates and provide outstanding shoulder season flexibility. Cenex Seasonally Enhanced Premium Diesel Fuels deliver a typical cold filter plugging point (CFPP) of -25° F.

#1 Diesel Fuel with Cenex Premium Diesel Fuel Additive is used to blend down your Cenex Premium Diesel Fuel tanks during transition from summer to fall/winter, helping ensure additives remain at proper levels. Ideal for blending down bulk tanks, retail fueling site tanks and customer storage tanks.

Contact your CHS Larsen Co-op energy team for more information.

Content courtesy of Cenex Refined Fuels & Lubricants

BASF declares Force Majeure for Vitamin A and E and several Carotenoids

 

“The vitamin marketplace has become a volatile place. Supplies of Vitamin E and A have become short causing a sharp spike in pricing. This article outlines the event that has led to the shortage in the market. Outlook for the next several months until the pipeline is filled again is high and increased pricing for vitamin items. For questions regarding your ration and some techniques we are using to ensure economic feeding strategies please feel free to contact the mill or your sales representative.”

Dustin Millard, Feed Department Manager 

BASF declares Force Majeure for Vitamin A and E and several Carotenoids
  • Plant shutdown after fire in Citral plant
  • Restart of downstream plants after scheduled maintenance not possible

Ludwigshafen, Germany, November 10, 2017 – On October 31, a fire occurred during the startup of the Citral plant in Ludwigshafen. Consequently, BASF had to shut down the plant and had to declare Force Majeure for its Citral and Isoprenol based aroma ingredients.

BASF’s Vitamin A and E plants are currently also shut down for scheduled, routine maintenance. The company will only be able to restart these plants once supply of Citral is re-established and the corresponding intermediates for Vitamin A and E become available.

As the cleaning process, follow-up inspection, repair and restart of the Citral plant will take several weeks, BASF is forced to extend the Force Majeure to Vitamin A and E and, in consequence, to several Carotenoid products.

The impact of the Force Majeure situation as well as the effects for customers resulting therefrom are being evaluated at the moment. Meanwhile, BASF is implementing measures to limit the consequences of the situation.

BASF will continuously inform its customers about the development and the details regarding the supply capability of the affected products.

Original Source: BASF News Release

Weekly Grain Update – December 12, 2017

 

12/12/17

The USDA will be out with its December monthly crop report on Tuesday at 11 am.  As the old saying goes, “big crops generally get bigger,” there is a decent chance that both corn and bean carryouts could grow slightly after the numbers are released.  Why?  Because our exports are lagging the original projections from the USDA of 1.925 B bu of corn exports and 2.25 B bu of bean exports.  When the grain does not leave the country, its starts to stack up in the interior.  The Chinese have been aggressive buyers of US beans, and we have made recent corn trades with Mexico and possibly the Chinese as well.  However, the current low price of corn and beans are starting to stimulate demand, and we are getting to the time of year where Brazil can no longer be the lowest cost world supplier of corn.  The second best option is the US and I expect the corn export pace to ramp up considerably next month.

One item that might offset the lagging exports is the huge quantity of corn being used for ethanol this year.  For several years, the amount of corn used for ethanol production was at the 5.0 B bu level and it stayed relatively constant.  However, as the world becomes more comfortable using the 15% ethanol blend in their gasoline for their cars, or burning E85 which is 85% corn ethanol, the amount of corn consumed by the ethanol industry has grown in recent years.  In 2016 we used 5.224 B bu of corn for ethanol, in 2017 we used 5.439, and this year I believe it will be over 5.5 B bu when the dust settles.  This increase in ethanol production will offset the lagging exports to a degree and might leave corn ending stocks unchanged.  We will all find out at 11 am today what the government’s opinion is on these categories.

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New Application Requirements

There have been changes in the applicator requirements if you are applying any of the new formulations of dicamba to RR2 Xtend soybeans.  These products currently include Xtendimax, FeXapan, and Engenia.  You must hold a restrictive use applicator license to purchase and apply these products.  In addition all applicators must attend an annual group 4 herbicide specific training prior to using these products.  We will be keep you informed of training opportunities, so please contact us if you require additional information.

By Mike Weiss, CHS Technical Agronomist 

Weekly Grain Update – December 5, 2017

Soybean Influences

The market is becoming very concerned about the weather in Argentina.  Brazil was plagued with wet weather several weeks ago, but that situation has improved.  Argentina is dry, and the market is adding risk premium due to this situation.  The world is counting on a large bean harvest from Argentina.  If this dry weather continues, the world bean carryout could be cut quite significantly.  However, it is early in their growing season, and there is time for the situation to improve.  Friday was the first day of the month and the funds decided to buy bean futures and add to their existing long bean position.  On Monday, they continued to buy bean futures and pushed beans higher through the day.  It is normal for beans to rally during the Thanksgiving holiday, so the strength in beans was not unexpected.

It is interesting to see that even though beans and wheat rallied significantly on Monday, corn could do very little amongst the strength in the other grains.  Corn is still being weighed down by the huge carryover of roughly 2.5 B Bu.  In addition, corn is struggling to rally as there are a huge amount of farmer sell orders just above the market.  Any attempt for corn to rally and these orders squash any rally attempt.  The farmer generally sold his beans for cash flow at harvest, but is storing his corn in any where possible.  Our US corn exports are also struggling to keep pace, and it is very likely that the USDA will need to lower corn exports by approximately 100 M bu on the next Monthly Crop Report on December 12.  If this happens, we could see corn carryout be raised by this same amount to nearly 2.6 B Bu, a truly huge amount of excess corn.

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