In an effort to help Iowa farmers and truckers move this year's large corn and soybean harvest, Governor Chet Culver signed a proclamation on October 1 granting a temporary weight limit exemption for trucks hauling grain. A 10% allowance per axel is being allowed by the state of Iowa, for 60 days beginning Oct. 1, 2008.
The exemption increases the weight allowable for shipment of soybeans, corn, hay, straw and stover to 88,000 pounds gross weight without the need for an overweight permit. But, depending on the axel configuration of your truck, the legal maximum may be lower than that number.
"The temporary weight limit exemption is a necessary step," says Culver. "We're looking at another significant corn and soybean crop here in Iowa, and weather concerns have resulted in farmers wanting to hasten the harvest. I'm authorizing this temporary weight limit exemption to assist farmers as they work to move the large crop in a small amount of time."
Note: 2008 exemption differs from past
The proclamation directs the Iowa Department of Transportation to monitor the situation, assure public safety and facilitate movement of trucks involved.
The 10% per axle temporary exemption from truck weight limits that began Oct. 1 to help farmers manage grain movement during the 2008 harvest is different from the exemptions in many previous years, points out Gary Edwards, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.
"Until last year, the harvest weight exemption applied only to gross weight," says Edwards, a farmer from Anamosa. "The 2008 exemption is similar to last year – it's a 10% exemption per axle. Farmers need to keep that difference in mind."
DOT will write tickets for overweight trucks
While the temporary limit increases the maximum allowable weight by 10% per axel, keep in mind that every truck is different in how much grain it can legally haul. The legal maximum with this 2008 temporary exemption is 88,000 pounds gross weight per truck but depending on axel configuration, it may be less.
For example, it may only be 85,000. You have to figure it out for your vehicle using the formula the Iowa DOT uses. Also, keep in mind that grain moisture makes a difference in how much each bushel weighs, which affects the gross weight and thus the number of bushels the truck can legally haul.
"Last year Iowa DOT officers stopped trucks that were hauling grain and gave them warnings if they were overweight," says Edwards. "The DOT only gave warnings last year because the 10% per axel allowance was something new. But this year DOT says rather than issue warnings, they'll write tickets and you'll likely pay a fine if you exceed the weight limit."
The exemption Governor Culver signed begins Oct. 1 and lasts for 60 days and is set to expire November 29 at midnight. It will apply to trucks hauling corn, soybeans, hay, straw or stover.
The exemption does not apply to county and state roads that have weight restrictions posted on them. It does not apply on posted bridges or overpasses. It does not apply to Iowa's interstate highways. Farmers transporting grain are also required to follow their vehicle safety standards on axle weights.
Will help farmers harvest crop more efficiently
ICGA formally requested a 60-day weight exemption in a letter to Culver in September, noting that weather delays in the growing season have condensed the time available to harvest and store crops before winter sets in.
"This year's weather has been a challenge," says Edwards. "The world is looking for us to produce a big corn crop, so we want to capture every bushel that's out there. We don't want any corn deteriorating in the field because harvest delays run us into winter conditions."
He applauded Culver's announcement, which he said will help growers harvest the crop more efficiently. Iowa's 2008 corn crop is expected yield 168 bushels per acre and total nearly 2.2 billion bushels according to the USDA's September crop report. That would make 2008 the third largest Iowa crop ever and the fifth consecutive year that Iowa corn production has topped 2 billion bushels.