Randy and Nick Hemmesch, Lake Henry, Minn.

Father-and-son team Randy and Nick Hemmesch, Lake Henry, Minn. Photo by Andrea Johnson.

LAKE HENRY, Minn. – With harvest regularly lasting into December, dairy farmer Randy Hemmesch knew it was time to expand the operation’s grain drying and storage system.

Randy and son, Nick, and their families grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat and oats on 1,200 acres in Stearns County.

“We were drying corn in two 10,0000-bushel dryer bins,” Randy said. “We would have to move it all, plus we didn’t have enough storage.

“We would combine it, and it would take us about one day to fill the bin, four days to dry it, and one day to unload it,” he continued. “That would be pretty much a week shot for 20,000 bushels.”

The Hemmesches also milk 90 cows and currently feed out 100 Holstein steers. They raise their replacement heifers from birth to the milking herd – so this was a major factor in any grain bin setup.

One of the interesting things about the Hemmesch farm is its location is in the city limits of Lake Henry, Minn. (population: 112). In fact, the implement dealer is farther out of town than the Hemmesch Farm.

Randy knew he didn’t have a large area for a new grain bin system – even though farmers and friends said he was going to have to expand his building site into his farmland.

He shared his concern with GSI dealer, Country Grain Systems of Monticello, Minn., located about 60 miles east of the farm.

The full service grain equipment dealer offers design services, construction and installation, facility upgrades, grain equipment service, parts for sale and more. The family business also farms and has been in business since 1980.

For the Hemmesches, Country Grain Systems designed and built a system that was installed in 2018.

With a driveway built to hold up to the milk truck, Randy’s semis now unload corn into a 500-bushel underground pit. The grain is carried up a 6,000-bushel per hour, 75-foot conveyor leg.

The tall leg allowed the Hemmesches to install the grain bin set up on a smaller amount of land. From the leg, the corn is delivered to a 14,000-bushel capacity wet corn bin.

“We just drive in our main driveway, go to the pit, installed the leg, and everything fit,” he said. “We put in three-phase power. We wouldn’t have had to, but we live right in town. Our driveway is only 100 feet long, and three-phase power is in town here. If we want to expand, all we have to do is build.”

Corn is run through the GSI Quiet Dryer. It’s engineered to reduce noise by 50 percent compared to standard portable dryers. That was another smart decision considering the farm’s location in town.

The dryer has a 750-bushel per hour grain drying capacity at 5 percent moisture reduction.

“We went that big because we milk in the morning and do chores from 10-11 a.m., before we begin combining. We stop for milking and chores at night and then combine a little at night,” he said. “If the 14,000-bushel bin is full, we can dry all night until noon the next day again. Then we start combining again.”

The system includes an air system for transporting dry corn to a storage bin. The Hemmesches also built a 65,000-bushel bin in 2018.

“We have 10,000-, 30,000- and 65,000-bushel bins, and if we run out of storage, we can still go back to the wet bin at the end. We can run corn from a semi to the dryer if needed.”

Soybeans as well as oats and wheat are stored separately in two 14,000-bushel bins, a 10,000-bushel dryer bin, or a 5,000-bushel bin. Bin fans are available to blow air on the crops if needed.

After the expansion was completed in 2018, corn harvest was completed in just 10 days. 2019 took longer because of the extreme wet and cold conditions.

As far as recommendations or what he has learned from the expansion project, Randy would encourage farmers – and especially livestock farmers – to invest in a large wet bin with the pit and leg.

“You have to get your chores done,” he said. “If you have only a 5,000-6,000-bushel wet bin, you’d run out of corn for the dryer by morning.” The biggest thing is to have enough wet bin storage.”

With Nick, 27, getting involved in the operation, Randy is pleased with the grain bin expansion.

“It’s like any kind of business. If you want to keep in it, you have to keep improving it or expanding it,” Randy said. “It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, if you’re in farming or you have the next generation to farm, you have to keep up with the times and make improvements.”