Corn drier stokes interest of farmers

Standing next to an existing natural gas connection, Brent Zeyer (right) and Mike Provost discuss a corn dryer they are building near Greenleaf, Idaho, April 18. Zeyer says the natural gas connection was the key to making the project economically feasible.

New facility provides new options for area farmers

By SEAN ELLIS

Capital Press

GREENLEAF, Idaho -- A corn drier that will have the capacity to handle about 1,000 bushels per hour is being built in Canyon County in southwestern Idaho.

The facility near Greenleaf will give corn farmers in that part of Idaho a proximate option to dry their crop and help them trim transportation costs.

"It will provide another outlet for farmers to get their corn dried and it will save us some money," said corn farmer Mike Provost, a partner in the project and one of four farmers already lined up to use the drier.

The nearest corn driers available to farmers in the Greenleaf area are located in Kuna in Ada County to the east and Nyssa in Malheur County, Ore., to the west.

"It's kind of a natural place to put one -- between the two existing driers in this area" said Brent Zeyer, who is building the facility along with Provost and expects it to be operational this fall. "There's a real need for it and we think it's a good spot to put one."

Corn that Provost doesn't sell to a dairy farm is taken to the drier in Kuna. He says the Greenleaf drier will allow him and other farmers in that area to harvest their corn crop quicker and "not have to leave it out in the field longer, where the weather gets to it."

Provost said there are several thousand acres of corn in that area that could potentially benefit from the drier.

The amount of corn grown in Idaho has increased more than 100 percent over the past decade, to an estimated 350,000 acres this year, and the increase is directly related to an equally rapid increase in the number of dairy cows in Idaho.

According to estimates by University of Idaho agricultural economists, about 70 percent of the corn grown in the Gem State is used for silage. The rest is used for grain, but the rapid increase in corn acres has resulted in a need for more corn driers in the state.

"There definitely is a need for more driers," said farmer Sid Freeman, who grows corn and other crops in Canyon County.

"I think the (Greenleaf drier) is a good thing."

The Greenleaf facility will include a warehouse that can store corn that isn't shipped immediately. The existing natural gas connection, used for a mint still owned by Provost, made the project economically feasible, Zeyer said.

"That natural gas connection is 90 percent of the reason we (can do this)," he said. "It allows us to do it at a price where we can be competitive."

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