With prospects setting up for a bin-busting crop, the Propane Education & Research Council is encouraging farmers to get ahead of fall drying needs with grain drying equipment upgrade incentives through the 2014 Propane Farm Incentive Program.
Last winter posed a problem for farmers who hadn't secured enough propane to run dryers after the cool, wet spring delayed planting and shortened the growing season. Though economists say the weather so far is returning good prospects for the 2014 crop, some farmers in the upper Midwest and Northeast struggled to plant crops in a timely fashion.
That could set them up for higher propane needs yet again this fall.
"Farmers can prepare for harvest by speaking with their propane dealers this summer about their estimated energy needs," says Mark Leitman, PERC director of marketing.
Leitman says another preparedness option is the incentive program, which helps farmers upgrade older systems with more efficient ones that can show a strong return on investment.
"The newest dryers from GSI Group and Mathews Co. are 30% and sometimes even up to 50% more efficient than older models. This translates to huge fuel savings for farmers and gives them even greater control over harvest and marketing decisions," Leitman said.
By participating in last year's Propane Farm Incentive Program, farmers who upgraded grain dryers reduced fuel costs by 40% per hour per bushel dried, compared with older propane-powered models, according to a PERC survey.
In addition, 100% of participants reported their new dryers performed better or much better than their older drying systems, and indicated they would recommend their new propane-powered grain dryer to others.
For the 2014 program, PERC says producers can earn up to $5,000 on select grain dryer models in exchange for collecting and reporting post-harvest performance data.
Models eligible for the Propane Farm Incentive Program include the GSI X-Stream series, Mathews Co. Trilogy series, and, new in 2014, the Mathews Co. 10-foot tower dryer series.
PERC co-funded technology development and testing with GSI and Mathews on each of the qualifying dryers.
Farmers can apply for the Propane Farm Incentive Program through the end of 2014. The PERC program has already awarded more than $169,000 in incentives to program participants in 23 states.
For more information on the program, visit the Farm Incentive Program website.