In a year like no other, farmers are starting to look toward harvest and wonder if they’re prepared. Aside from obvious challenges, storage and grain conditioning is—or at least should be—top of mind for farmers.
“I’ve been doing this since 1975 and I’ve never seen anything that would really compare to this year,” says Gary Woodruff, GSI district manager. “We have a rush of farmers looking to add bins and dryers. I’m concerned I’m not hearing more about getting dryer serviced because it’ll be a late fall because of late planting.”
It’s going to be a wetter-than-normal harvest in many parts of the Midwest.
“I think it’ll be a split season in our area because some did get in early, but there were many who got in significantly later than normal.,” says David Luff, President of Luffland Builders of Bates City, Mo., that sells Brock and Sukup grain bins. “When you have 6” corn next to 4’ corn you can’t expect it to all be ready at the same time.”
Farmers can expect harvest to run later and harvest potentially wetter grain because so many acres were planted late. Poor crop conditions might mean farmers might need to harvest grain before it reaches optimal moisture levels to ensure everything gets harvested.
“There’s a lot of farmers who haven’t done a lot of drying over the past five years,” Woodruff says. “This year dryers will need to be used and they might not be in good repair and need service. One thing that will soon become critical is access to repair parts—especially if you wait until right before harvest.”
Here’s what grain experts say farmers should be doing now to make sure dryers are ready for harvest season:
- Physically inspect dryers yourself or have a dealer come look it over for you.
- Get parts ordered and installed early.
- Consider your alternatives, such as local elevators. Lock in space if needed.
- Plan harvest now, consider starting earlier and compensate with dryer systems.
- Determine if it’s time to upgrade dryer systems or add more drying equipment to condition grain or add additional storage.
There are still solutions for farmers who don’t yet have continuous flow dryers.
“If you’re using in-bin systems, you’ll either need a circulator or stirring device if you plan on putting anything in over 20%,” Luff says. “If you don’t, you will over dry the bottom and the top will be wet. However, if you’re planning to dry a lot of grain over 22% you’ll probably need a batch or continuous flow dryer.”
Farmers considering adding dryers or bin-drying systems need to contact their dealers as soon as possible. Dealers will likely be swamped with harvest-season repair calls that could increase wait during one of the most critical times of the year. Plan ahead now.