As we start the New Year in North America grain drying has, for the most part, been done for some time now. Such is not the case in parts of China.
In North East China (for example in provinces like Heilongjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia and Liaoning) the drying season for corn (using grain dryers as opposed to sun drying) can extend for 4 months or even longer, from November through to March. On a recent visit to China in early December, after almost all of our North American customers had finished drying, we found many of our customers in China just getting started.
This is because in these northern areas the cold weather arrives early and so corn can be harvested and stored for some time before it has to be dried. The grain storage depots take advantage of this by extending their drying season and then using their grain dryers over an extended period. It is an efficient use of the dryers, even if the weather outside does make drying a bit more of a challenge.
Of course this means that corn is often being dried when the outside air temperature is well below freezing and the corn coming into the dryer may in fact be frozen. Measuring the moisture of frozen kernels is an interesting problem, but one that Dryer Master in-line moisture sensors are ready to meet.
Another challenge faced when drying grain in China is that unlike North America where NG or propane may be used as a fuel and a constant drying air temperature is expected, in China coal is used for much of the drying. With a coal fired system it is far more difficult to achieve a steady drying air temperature and in fact you will see quite a variation in the drying temperature. It is no surprise then that the tending of the coal fire becomes one of the more important jobs at the depot site.
As in other parts of the economy the Chinese government has made a major push to improve the quantity and quality of the country’s grain handling infrastructure. There has been a significant expansion of the number of the grain handling depots and their storage capabilities as well as an investment in new technology. In addition to the many storage depots that are managed by state owned enterprises, there is also an increasing number of privately run storage depots as well.
Wherever we went, even in more remote areas, the construction cranes were everywhere. It is no exaggeration to say that the scale of the advancement and improvement in infrastructure, both in agriculture and generally in the economy, is mind-boggling.