I drove out to Lidgerwood, N.D., take a picture of Steve Strege for an article that is going to appear in the February issue of the Dakota Farmer in a couple weeks.
Sorry, I can’t tell you what the story is about – it’s a surprise. But more on that later.
Anyway, when I arrived, Steve and a grain dryer salesman were at the kitchen table.
Steve was buying a new high temperature dryer, doubling the size of his current unit.
“I got all my corn done this year,” Steve told me $44,000 later, “but if I’m going to keep growing corn, I need a bigger, faster dryer.”
Steve’s got a great market for corn. The ethanol plant at Hankinson, N.D., is back up and running – and owned by an oil company, so it is probably going to be around for a while. Oil companies have pretty deep pockets and already own the gasoline market. It makes sense that they’d want to sell a product will likely replace more and more petroleum-based fuel in the future, at least in the Dakotas.
One reason Steve says he chose to invest in a bigger high temperature dryer is because he’s seen too many problems with wet corn frozen in bins.
Not only is spoilage a potential problem, but so is safety, he says.
Wet corn sometimes freezes to the side of the bin in a layer several feet thick and has to be chipped out.
“That’s a dangerous situation,” he says.