Ohio State University figures say the average drying bill could jump from $17 per acre to $63 per acre this year for farmers who wind up taking 10 or so points off each bushel in their grain drying and handling facility. Propane is relatively high, around $2 per gallon at last check, although natural gas is relatively cheap, if you're lucky enough to have a natural gas supply to your dryer and grain handling system.
The early October dry period may mean most farmers can hold the drying bill below $63 per acre, which is roughly 40 cents per bushel at 150 bushels per acre of corn. However, are there ways to cut it even further, besides just field drydown?
One farmer we visited recently started unloading a semi, sending it into a pit auger and up into a leg to a continuous flow dryer. He based his decision on the last load he had brought in of the same hybrid from the same field. When his moisture tests confirmed that this load was 17% moisture or less, he switched the corn from flowing into an overhead bin that feeds the dryer, to a bin equipped with a large aeration fan. That meant fewer bushels to run through the dryer.
This particular farmer uses 17% as the cut-off. If grain is above 17%, he likes to dry it through his continuous flow dryer set-up. If it's 17% or under, he has found he can dump it straight into an aeration bin and dry it by running air through it. Aeration bin fans typically need to be at least 10 horsepower, depending upon the size of the bin. He wouldn't be comfortable putting corn that wet into a bin with a storage-bin size fan, of 1.0 horsepower or less, because he wouldn't get the movement of drier and warmer air up through the grain that he is counting on to finish drying the grain down.
Purdue ag engineers have recommended this practice for years. It helps get more use out of your grain handling system, and can increase productivity by a large amount. Some also dry corn that started out above 20% to 17% with a dryer, and dump it hot into a bin with a large aeration fan.The secret is making sure you have enough air to help lower moisture contest, experts say.