Top Three Mistakes to Avoid when Drying Grain

August 27, 2008 07:00 PM
Sara Muri, Top Producer Business & Crops Online Editor
No producer wants to throw away money, especially when the majority of input costs are on the rise. As harvest time approaches, many producers will be flipping the switch on their grain bins and watching their energy bills soar.
Tom Dorn, extension educator with University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County, provides advice on how to avoid common and costly mistakes when drying grain.
Harvesting Too Soon
Dorn says the simplest way to dry corn is by letting the grain dry naturally in the field. He says if a field experiences low humidity, wind and warm temperatures, corn can lose one-third to one-half a point of moisture each day.
At this drying rate, the corn would dry naturally in the field from 18% to 15% in about the same time as if the corn were harvested and dried in the bin using natural, unheated air at the 1 cubic foot per minute, per bushel airflow, Dorn says.
Adding Too Much Heat
A common mistake for producers using heated air, is applying too much heat, Dorn says. "When adding supplemental heat, the relationship between temperature rise and relative humidity is not linear,” he says.
"You get your biggest bang for your buck with the first 20° F of heat,” he says. As a rule of thumb, he notes, the relative humidity drops by one-half for each 20° F rise in temperature. The second 20° F increment of added heat results in half as much reduction in relative humidity (half of half).
He says the best way to minimize costs is to keep the temperature rises at a moderate level.
Entirely Filling a Bin in a Multi-Bin Operation
Dorn also recommends for producers with several bins to spread the grain out among all the bins. "For farmers, the tendency is to fill one bin completely then move on to the next bin,” he says.
Instead, Dorn suggests, partially filling several bins and starting the drying process while you're still harvesting. By having a shallower layer of grain for the air to travel through, drying time and energy consumption is reduced. "You can save from 20 to 35% of energy costs, by filling bins in layers,” he says.
Dorn notes this process may be easier for some producers, but says if the option is available, filling and drying in layers can make a big difference.
For More Information
All articles courtesy of Tom Dorn, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension

You can e-mail Sara Muri at

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