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A time to dry

Agriculture.com Staff 10/17/2008 @ 8:23am

Whether you're running like mad to get your corn and soybeans picked before it gets too cold out there, or just want to get the crops in so you can start planning for '09, you may find yourself with grain that's a little too wet to send to town. So, now what?

You've got options: Let Mother Nature dry your crops, bin them wet and dry in storage, or take a low-energy approach to drying in the bin. These are just a few choices some specialists say you've got at your disposal as you get your corn and beans out of the field.

Whether you're running like mad to get your corn and soybeans picked before it gets too cold out there, or just want to get the crops in so you can start planning for '09, you may find yourself with grain that's a little too wet to send to town. So, now what?

With energy costs touching the sky, it's an attractive option to let Mother Nature handle the drying this year. But, if you're double-cropping soybeans, for example, or worry that your crops won't dry quickly enough to get them out of the field in time, it may be best to get the grain out of the field and worry about moisture once it's in the bin, says Iowa State University Extension ag engineer Charles Hurburgh.

If you're worried about energy costs eating a hole in your balance sheet, try low-temperature drying for your corn. One key to making low-temp drying work is layering grain in the bin in a way that allows each "layer" to dry sufficiently before adding more. This, according to University of Missouri (MU) ag engineer Robert George, cuts the energy required to dry the grain, and can maintain grain quality longer.

Conventional high-temperature bin drying may just be your only option in some cases. In taking this approach, keep a few key points in mind, according to University of Minnesota Extension ag engineers William Wilcke and Gary Wyatt. First, make sure you have an idea of your costs going in. Wilcke and Wyatt say approximately 0.02 gallons of propane per bushel of grain is required to lower the moisture level by one percentage point. And, with high-temp drying, be aware of the temperature ceiling appropriate for your grain use.

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