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Propane Drying Expenses

Thanks to the cool, relentlessly-wet spring, most crops were planted late which will likely mean a late harvest. Late-planted crops also run the risk of not drying down adequately by the time the crop is harvested. And, if we have an early frost or a wet fall, it could take a lot of fuel to dry down considerable amounts of grain before it’s stored.

Bryon Parman is an extension agricultural finance specialist at North Dakota State University. He says the propane expenses to dry that grain could add up.

"If you figure $1.50-$2.00 per gallon for propane and it might be 3¢-4¢ per bushel of corn per point," says Parman. "For instance, then if you were going to dry it down from say, 26% moisture to 16% moisture, it could cost you as much as 30¢-40¢ a bushel to dry it down that far."

He says the biggest strategy is pre-pricing or storing early purchase propane on the farm before the mercury starts dipping. This approach also eliminates the risk of delays or shortages if there is an overwhelming high demand.

"There’s considerable seasonality with propane prices. For instance, in 2016, propane was 50¢ a gallon in April, and by October of that same year it was $1.50 a gallon, so basically a third of the price," he says. "So, if you’re able to pre-price at that level, you might even get a bigger discount if you’re willing to be flexible on when you take delivery, you can save 60%-70% perhaps."

Keep the drying equipment clean for maximum efficiency. Drying grain at a lower temperature within the recommended range for the dryer is another way to increase fuel efficiency.

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