Grain dryer

A new drying system was installed on the Bannwarth farm near Mitchell, S.D.

Finding a grain storage solution through two of the wettest years in recent history is a challenge, but for Tom Bannwarth and his brothers at Bannwarth Farm near Mitchell, South Dakota, the solution was more, not less.

Many farmers in 2018 and 2019 were left either stranded in the field, with no crops at all or grain too wet to deliver to the elevator. Bannwarth said the local elevator wasn’t excited about taking their corn in 2018 so he and his brothers got together to build the best drying solution they could.

“We had enough bushels to justify a drying system,” he said.

The Bannwarths settled on a GSI Quiet Dryer that can handle up to 950 bushels an hour with a 5 point moisture removal. Along with the dryer came a new 70,000-bushel storage system which may see its twin in 2020, should Bannwarth get his way. He worked with a local GSI dealer, Summit Contracting, on the design and construction.

The Bannwarths farm roughly 8,000 acres and they didn’t want to take the major hit that came being docked at the elevator for high moisture levels in their corn. Along with the drying solution came a unique opportunity for the Bannwarths in 2020 – the ability to plant many varieties of corn with different maturity levels.

With their new longer maturing corn, Bannwarth said the operation is looking at a good yield bump come this fall.

“You’re looking at 15-20 bushels more an acre better corn,” he said. “Normally you do all that drying with propane, but if we can start in September, we can let mother nature do a lot of the drying for us.”

For the Bannwarths, getting a drying system in place was a matter of a secure long-term investment. He estimates the system should pay for itself within a year and a half. While 2020 has been an improvement weather-wise, Bannwarth said the coronavirus pandemic impacted his ability to find reliable workers.

“Things are shaping up a lot better than last year,” he said reflecting on the wet growing season in 2019. “That was a disaster.”

Reach Reporter Jager Robinson at 605-335-7300, email jager.robinson@lee.net or follow on Twitter @Jager_Robinson.