In the beginning, the inner workings on an industrial hemp dryer consisted of the inside of a barn. Tied batches of harvested hemp hung upside down, slowly drying. The space might have had a humidifier, or some other device to regulate moisture and temperature, but technology was absent. The risk for mold or mildew to corrupt a crop was high, and space was at a premium. If you grew a crop too big to hang in your barn, what happened?
This is exactly the question industrial hemp farmers began asking themselves. They’re now dealing with so much bulk that it’s hard to imagine drying things out themselves. A single industrial hemp plant, on its own, can grow to 15 feet in height. Now imagine 400,000 plants that large sitting on a single acre. There’s not enough room to manage it all on site, so hemp farmers must look to technology to get their drying done.
Hemp drying technology
To handle more volume faster, industrial hemp driers are gaining in popularity. While they vary in size, cost, and portability, many machines are too expensive for an individual farmer to own. This means looking to third-party hemp processors for drying services.
Because you should dry hemp as fast as possible after harvesting it, large-capacity hemp machines are a great option. They tackle your entire crop much quicker than traditional methods. And, once the plants come out of the machine, they’re ready for the next step, extraction. Hemp drying technology can mean drying thousands of pounds in a single hour.
The drying chamber
Most like hanging your hemp to dry on its own, the drying chamber in a batch dryer typically contains a dehumidifier, aerator, and heat source. It’s a closed system designed to dry hemp in the exact right conditions. Air flows from one side of the chamber to the other, or from both sides to a return in the middle, to create cross flow to dry hemp. To keep things consistent within the drying chamber, most batch drying machines have remote control access.
One batch at a time goes into the drying chamber for drying. This method is favorable for flower and higher yielding products. It’s not as common for industrialized hemp. The heat in batch dryers helps preserve the flavor within the plant, which isn’t always a primary concern for industrialized hemp. Especially, if you’re using your crop for textiles or clothing.
The conveyor belt
Moving hemp through a large drying chamber via conveyor belt is one way to continuously dry hemp. Unlike a batch dryer, this type of dryer continues to introduce new hemp into the machine for drying. A series of mesh belts move the hemp through to allow water to evaporate as the plant biomass gets exposed to heat. Air is also flowing from the top of the machine down to maintain uniformity. Hemp dries as it moves along a collection of mesh layers. The operator controls the thermal energy. This ensures things stay at the right temperature to avoid over-drying.
Continuous dryers allow for large amounts of biomass to dry fast, without taking up a lot of room in a hemp processing plant. It’s quick and efficient, which makes it a good choice when drying industrialized hemp.
Think about how your dryer works at home. You put your wet laundry into it, and after spinning around in a heated drum, it comes out dry. This is the same principle that makes rotary dryers such a great machine when working with hemp. Biomass goes into a heated drum, which rotes and tumbles the material. Plates within the drum make sure the hemp moves as it spins. The heated air dries the hemp.
Because the drum can be big, these machines process large amounts of hemp fast. They have a reputation as great industrial dryers that dates back before it became legal to grow hemp. They were a natural fit for drying.
The key piece of equipment in all industrialized hemp dryers
Whether they dry hemp as it sits still, or get biomass on the move, the most important thing within any dryer is temperature control. Drying at the right temperature is critical for maximum yield once your dried hemp goes into an extractor. If the temperature is too high, you lose some of the oil hiding within the plants. In any dryer, you want the ability to precisely control and modulate temperature. Having remote capabilities lets you dry hemp as fast as possible without sacrificing yield.
Drying hemp in Alabama
At Arbor Vita8, your seed-to-sale partner in commercial hemp, we take drying seriously. Our high-volume dryer can handle between 10,000-12,000 pounds per hour of freshly harvested hemp, or between 8,000-10,000 pounds of baled product. Our huge capacity dryer ensures you get a consistent product because of two special components in the dryer. The dewatering machine and the grinder allow us to function as a superior hemp dryer for local farmers. We save you time and money by not having to deal with drying on their own. Contact us today to learn more about our hemp drying capabilities as well as the rest of our services.