Strong commodity prices have boosted bin and grain-handling-equipment sales. The record sales started in 2003 and have continued into 2004. Grain farmers latched onto the good deals, even though they may not need the bins for the 2004 crop. One manufacturer speculated that the bins may not be erected if corn and soybean prices stay high into the fall and are delivered right to the elevator.

High steel prices may temper the current enthusiasm for bins. “Tremendous demand for steel from China has driven the price of steel up over the past few months, so farmers who got a price quote in December but delayed buying until now may be shocked a bit by the jump in price,” reports Randy Coffey, director of marketing, Sukup Manufacturing.

Most of the bin building is for storage expansion, which is driven by larger farm operations. Growers are updating their grain systems, adding storage capacity and going to more automated controls. “Surprisingly, we are seeing considerably less interest from customers for specialty systems to handle identity-preserved grain than we did three years ago,” Coffey says.

However, growers are interested in maintaining high quality in their storage systems. Phil Farr, general sales manager, Mathews Company, says the company's customers want to keep drying temperatures down, especially on speciality crops. “Growers are looking for new and advanced technologies, too, which puts us behind the eight ball to come up with new and innovative things,” Farr adds. Mathews Company has designed more automated controls on its dryers that can handle more operations in a grain system, like aeration.

Here's a look at new products from Mathews Company and several other grain-handling-equipment companies.

Controlled drying

The Mathews Company introduces three new low-profile, continuous flow dryers in the company's Infinity series. The 420 and 730 models may be used in dry-and-cool or all-heat systems, and the 410 model may be used in all-heat systems. The dryers feature a 1,750-rpm vane axial fan with 36-in. cast aluminum fan blades. A Maxon Burner provides high efficiency. The dryers are equipped with automatic moisture control and a control cabinet that may be mounted in a remote location. Total grain-handling capacity of all three dryers is 281 bu.

Prices range from $39,425 to $58,040. Contact Mathews Co., Dept. FIN, Crystal Lake, IL 60039-0070, 800/323-7045, visit www.mathewscompany.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 217.

High-capacity grain dryers

Sukup Manufacturing Company has expanded its line of stack dryers and is now offering triple-stack models. The units feature a “crossover” system that moves grain from one side of the dryer to the other as it moves down the modules, minimizing the effects of wind on the drying process and resulting in more even moisture content. The grain also is moved from the inside of the column to the outside, preventing overdrying.

Another unique feature is quad metering rolls in the bottom column, which pull the inner, hotter layer of grain down the column faster, preventing overdrying.

Sukup offers 16-, 20- and 24-ft. triple-stack dryers with capacities ranging from 915 to 3,600 bu./hr. Double-stack units are also available with capacities ranging from 680 to 2,450 bu./hr. A 12-ft., single-fan LP model lists at about $38,000. A 20-ft., double-stack, four-fan LP model lists at about $117,500. A 24-ft., triple-stack, six-fan natural gas model lists at $215,000.

Contact Sukup Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 677, Sheffield, IA 50475, 641/892-4222, visit www.sukup.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 218.

Squeeze-belt conveying

Gently move grain with a new squeeze-belt conveyor from Mayrath. The squeeze-belt technology conveys more volume up steeper inclines by gently squeezing the grain between two moving belts. The belts prevent the grain from rolling back down the conveyor. Mayrath is offering six conveyor lengths from 35 to 90 ft. The 35-ft., portable conveyor retails for $14,800.

Contact Mayrath, a division of Global Industries, Dept. FIN, Box 629, Clay Center, KS 67432, 800/523-6993, visit www.mayrath.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 219.

Belt for bins

Seeing a need for a faster, gentler way to move grain from a bin to a semi, two farm families in Grundy County, IA, teamed up to form GrainWay LLC. Together, the families developed a conveyor system that can load a semi in less than 10 min. while being gentle on the grain.

At only 8½ in. tall and 13 in. wide, the conveyor takes up little space, but will unload at more than 5,000 bu./hr. With a wheel kit, the system is portable and can be used in many similar-sized bins. The unit is quieter than an auger. Contributing to smooth operation are 1¼-in. bearings and industrial-strength rollers. A plastic slider plate allows for easy bin access. There's a choice of hydraulic or electric drives. Different lengths of conveyors work in bin sizes of 18 to 60 ft.

The 2730 Incline model with the electric drive kit and wheel kit costs $4,092. Setting up each bin costs $360. The company typically sells one conveyor to service six bins, which costs a total of $6,252.

Contact GrainWay LLC, Dept. FIN, 17333 130th St., Aplington, IA 50604, 877/347-6361, visit www.grainwayllc.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 220.

High-capacity grain vac

Move high volumes of grain with the redesigned GrainVac 5000 and 5000EX from Brandt. The new GrainVacs with an improved fan design and double-lipped chamber seals offer 25% greater cleanup capacity than the previous models. The new models will move up to 5,000 bu./hr., depending on grain moisture, distance from the bin and air temperature. The 5000 with hydraulic unfold auger with a telescoping inlet, boron-treated fan assembly and 39½ ft. of 7-in. hose costs $13,481. The 5000EX, with extra features such as chrome flighting and ball-bearing flighting hangers, sells for $14,246.

Contact Brandt Agricultural Products, Dept. FIN, Box 317, Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 3A1, Canada, 866/427-2638, visit www.brandt.ca or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 221.