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A guide to your options in buying a grain dryer

Out of sight, out of mind — that worked for grain drying for the better part of the past decade in many areas. Suddenly, out-of-date, worn-out and just plain inefficient grain dryers stick out like a sore thumb. That’s because one of the toughest harvest seasons in 35 years made every quirk, crack and shortcoming of your dryer painfully obvious last fall. As a result, phones are ringing off the hook in any business that sells grain dryers.

A guide to your options in buying a grain dryer

Out of sight, out of mind — that worked for grain drying for the better part of the past decade in many areas. Suddenly, out-of-date, worn-out and just plain inefficient grain dryers stick out like a sore thumb. That’s because one of the toughest harvest seasons in 35 years made every quirk, crack and shortcoming of your dryer painfully obvious last fall. As a result, phones are ringing off the hook in any business that sells grain dryers.

Key Points

• Reassess your need for a dryer based on more than just the 2009 harvest.

• Do your homework on your dryer capacity needs before shopping.

• Looking for energy efficiency may pay if you want to qualify for an energy grant.

If this is your year to upgrade, do yourself a favor. Check out your options before you buy. The shopper’s guide presented here isn’t a “what’s new” — it’s “what’s out there.” And it’s not all-inclusive, although no company was omitted on purpose.

Question bank

Begin your search by asking the right questions of every dealer where you look at dryers. Here are a few sample questions to get you started. Thanks to Dan Zippay, Deerfield Farms Service Inc., Deerfield, Ohio, for providing these questions.

How many bushels do you need to dry? It’s the starting point on knowing what size dryer you need. The goal is to at least get into the ballpark on size requirements, Zippay says.

How old are you? This could help sales reps get a better handle on your future drying needs.

Will you need the same size dryer in five years? If expansion is in your future, it could impact what size dryer you want.

Are you a beginning farmer with limited resources? Perhaps you need to start with a smaller dryer to hold down debt. Some models are designed for easy add-ons in the future.

Can you design your layout to accommodate a bigger dryer later? This may be a key to designing your grain handling system if you’re doing more than just replacing a dryer.

Could you qualify for an energy grant? The 2008 Farm Bill allows for covering up to 25% of the cost of installation of a more energy-efficient dryer. However, you’ll likely need to hire a grant writer. Rural Development offices of USDA caution there’s no guarantee your grant application will be approved, or that money will be available.

ASSESS NEEDS: Decide how many bushels you need to dry and how fast you need to dry them before you shop for a dryer, advises Dan Zippay (left).



HIGH-EFFICIENCY IN-BIN SYSTEM: Dry up to 1,000 bushels per hour in normal years with Shivvers in-bin, Blue Flame dryer series. Spokesmen acknowledge that with incoming corn as wet as 30% in 2009, drying was slower. Turbo booster fans are available to double the static pressure for drying. Contact Shivvers Mfg. Inc., Corydon, Iowa, 641-872-1005 or 800-245-9093;

ANOTHER OPTION: If you can use a stationary dryer, the Grain Handler dryer may be what you’re looking for. One big advantage of this system, representatives say, is that all grain stays the same temperature while drying, helping on test weight. This dryer can also work on single-phase power. Contact Grain Handler, Minneapolis or St. Charles, Minn., 800-260-1745;

MORE CAPACITY: The SuperB SQ Energy Miser Series of continuous flow dryers can dry 300 to 1,000 bushels per hour, depending upon the size you choose. These low-profile dryers range from 12 to 40 feet long. Energy-efficient models offer options to reclaim heat. Contact Brock Grain Systems, Frankfort, Ind., 800-541-7900;

QUAD-METERING ROLLS: One of the first features Sukup reps point out about their dryers is their quad-metering rolls, designed to provide consistency in moisture content no matter where the grain leaves the dryer. Sukup also features a 100%-remote-controlled dryer. Many models, including in-bin drying models, are available. Contact Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield, Iowa, 641-892-4222;


SPACE SAVER: If room at the grain center is at a premium, consider the Meyer Tower Dryer from Brock. Capacity varies from 1,000 to 2,400 bushels per hour, removing 5 points of moisture. Reclaiming warm air increases efficiency. Tower dryers tend to price out somewhat higher than conventional models. Contact Brock Grain Systems, Frankfort, Ind., 800-541-7900;

Remote control is wave of future

Simon Gibson can tell you more about how grain dryer controls operate than you may need to know. After all, that’s his job. He’s an engineer partially responsible for designing the state-of-the-art Pinnacle Lite TruDry Technology controller from Mathews Co.

The Pinnacle Series of controllers opens up a new frontier for Mathews, Gibson says. State-of-the-art sensors ensure accurate sensing of grain flowing through the dryer. A 5-inch touch screen interfaces with the dryer. The control cabinet can be mounted up to 150 feet from the dryer.

But what really raises eyebrows is that the unit includes an Ethernet switch that allows access to the Internet for remote monitoring. What that means, Gibson says, is that you can now monitor your grain dryer from anywhere, at any time, as long as you have Internet access. Yet if all else fails, you can still operate the dryer manually.

This new feature is standard on all M-C dryers. Check out

New ‘watchdog’

It doesn’t bark, and you don’t have to feed it, but GSI’s WatchDog Vision network dryer control also lets you monitor dryer operation from your home office, or anywhere you can get Internet access. The new WatchDog system works with GSI’s Vision controller to allow remote monitoring of various dryer functions, representatives say. Check moisture, temperature and dryer status from anywhere you have a computer and Web access.

And except for operating the start-up menu, you can also control anything the Vision system can control remotely through the WatchDog system. Learn more at

LOW-NOISE FANS: You can get X-Stream dryer technology in a GSI continuous flow dryer. A variety of sizes are available. Add on various options to create the drying solution you need. GSI dryers feature propellers made of composite and 4-inch, adjustable feed rolls. Contact GSI, Assumption, Ill., at 888-GSI-BINS;


UNIQUE CHOICE: Dry up to 25% grain without heat. Jason Sjostrom of CMC says it’s not only possible, but that they have plenty of satisfied customers to back it up. The system works on a wide variety of commodities, he notes. Their trademarked Pressure Cure system features air pumps instead of fans. Learn more about CMC, West Fargo, N.D., at 800-359-1785;


MORE EYES WATCHING: Eat supper in the house and still know what your dryer is doing at the grain center thanks to GSI’s WatchDog and Vision systems, plus the Internet.


FAMILIAR NAME: The Farm Fans X-Stream dryer continues 37 years of experience with dryers. Now made by GSI, these continuous flow dryers come in a wide range of sizes. They’re compatible with Vision and WatchDog monitoring systems. Propeller blades are made of aluminum, and these dryers feature 7-inch, non-adjustable feed rolls. Contact Farm Fans, Assumption, Ill., 217-226-5400;



HIGH-TECH GOES ‘TECHIER’: The “next big thing” in grain dryer controlling is monitoring from remote locations via the Internet, notes Simon Gibson.


HEAT FLOW HELPS DRY: GSI continues to offer the Top Dry system. Set up in unique bins, the drying process makes use of heat moving up through the grain to help dry it. Either batch or autoflow setups are available. Using a plenum, the drying fans can be set on the ground instead of mounted near the top of the bin. Contact GSI, Assumption, Ill., 888-GSI-BINS;


TOWER POWER: If you’re after a tower dryer that can be set up quickly, here’s an option. The GSI modular tower dryer is shipped in pre-assembled modules, then fitted together on the site. Installation time on the farm is usually quicker, representatives say. These modular dryers also feature a unique, patented adjustable cooling floor. Contact GSI, Assumption, Ill., 888-GSI-BINS;


MULTIPLE MODELS: Dry from 185 to 900 bushels per hour with the Mathews Co.’s Infinity Series. Nine models are available. If you need more capacity, consider the 75 Series expandable models with a capacity of up to 1,900 bushels per hour, or the 80 Series with a capacity of up to 1,700 bushels per hour. Contact Mathews Co., Crystal Lake, Ill., 800-323-7045;


INSIDE LOOK: Peek inside a Mathews Co. continuous flow dryer. There are also six models of tower dryers in the Mathews Co. line if you’re conserving space. Capacities range from 560 to 1,415 bushels per hour. The hallmark of the tower series is vacuum cooling and pressure heating for maximum efficiency. Contact Mathews Co., Crystal Lake, Ill., 800-323-7045;



This article published in the April, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.

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