Methods and Machines to Assist a Crucial Component of Processing
The ability to properly dry hemp is one of the most important steps in hemp processing and production operations. Even if high quality hemp is grown, failure to thoroughly dry the harvested plant material can turn a profitable harvest into a lost crop overnight. Improper drying practices can result in crop damage due to dust, dirt and pathogens, and total crop loss may occur as a result of mold from incorrect drying. Proper drying is critical when storing material for processing for any downstream product from isolate to distillate or smokable flower. As in most agricultural processes, the ability to quickly and cost effectively dry the harvested material is a critical step in insuring farmers are able to recognize profit from months worth of costly labor and inputs.
The rapid growth in the hemp industry in recent years has led to new developments in the tools and techniques integral to productive and profitable hemp farming and processing operations. Outdated practices are giving way to innovative systems designed to expand production capabilities and increase quality control and repeatability. While more traditional ‘in the barn’ drying styles may still work in smaller operations, large scale operation must consider advances in the methods and machines that can help them reach and sustain success in an ever-competitive market.
Traditional Hemp Drying
The hemp drying process, regardless of method, begins immediately post-harvest to allow for the highest potential of quality product. Traditional methods involve hanging whole plants and stems in a barn, shed, or warehouse out of direct sunlight. The plants should be spread out and upside down while encouraging equal airflow and ventilation throughout the drying facility. Fans and other climate controlling equipment are often set up to allow for proper ventilation while maintaining ideal drying conditions. 60 to 70 degrees F with a relative humidity of around 60% are desirable for encouraging adequate drying while optimizing cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Plants should be hung individually or broken apart stem by stem to limit the possibility for mold and mildew. While this drying method has been practiced for years, it is limited in scope by a longer speed to market than current techniques and has an inherent risk for mold and other crop destroying pathogens.
Modern Hemp Drying
Modern methods of hemp drying have led things out of the barn and into the future. New machines are available to automate the process with greater control and higher throughput. Additionally, advances in sensors and controls allow for a better visibility of the drying cycle, which can be used create ideal drying conditions. Current machines vary in style and construction for desired needs and outcomes, but are typically defined as either continuous or batch processes:
Continuous Dryers – high throughput systems that use a conveyor belt or drum to constantly dry material. Often used for Biomass due to their output capability and input size requirements.
Batch Dryers – systems that hold one batch of material at a time to be replaced with new material when dry. Often used for flower or higher yielding products due to their highly controllable environments.
These two styles of modern drying machines are being created with slightly different operating methods, each slightly different from one another in capability and design.
Belt Dryers – High output and production units capable of drying large amounts of biomass quickly and efficiently. Typical designs feature in-feed and out-feed conveyors leading into and out of a main drying chamber where plant material is dried as it moves through a series of mesh belt layers. These units offer high volume production with precise electronic controls to create ideal hemp drying conditions. Fueled by natural gas/propane these units fit well in most industrial or farm environments and offer a farm ready drying solution relatively quickly.
Rotary Dryers – Drum style dryers that come in a variety of sizes from small and compact to large and industrial. Plant material is placed in a rotating cylinder, which is heated to encourage drying. The inside of the drum is lined with shoveling plates to pick up and move biomass. These units have been used with other agricultural products for decades and the technology also works for hemp. Controls on these systems vary from basic to advanced and are typically fueled by natural gas. These units are often very large and may require longer lead times for construction.
Drying Chambers – Typically designed as part of modern hang dry or rack drying operations. Drying chambers typically include a combination of heat, airflow and dehumidifiers. This combination pulls the moisture out of a closed space such as a drying room or container. The units can be set to desired humidity and temperature levels but without proper controls can also draw moisture out to quickly leading to over drying that can be detrimental to end product. These systems can be stand alone structures or built into a building as part of the facility build out.
Current Offerings from Triminator
There are many options when it comes to choosing the best hemp dryer for a processing operation but Triminator is leading the way with new technology and innovations designed to increase output for large scale production facilities.
The Triminator Belt CBD Hemp Dryer is a continuous, high throughput machine designed to utilize low heat and smart airflow to rapidly dry hemp leaves and flowers while preserving biomass CBD and terpene profiles for maximum crop returns. The unit can dry up to 1,100lb/hour while using a proprietary heat recapture system to retain up to 80% of the heat and cut operating costs up to 30%.
The Triminator CBD Box Hemp Drying System is an innovative batch dryer designed with low operating costs and maximum efficiency. This box dryer uses an advanced control system to regulate the drying chamber, creating a highly efficient drying curve for maximum control and optimal terpene retention. Capable of processing up to 1,500lb/24hrs the unit is ideal for smaller operations or those focusing on smokable flower.
When to Get a Hemp Dryer to Support Your Operation
Commercial hemp processors will see immediate benefit by adding an industrial hemp dryer to their farm or facility. The efficiency and control of these machines allow processors to increase their speed to market, eliminate the risk of crop loss and maximize their ROI and are an essential addition to a profitable processing operation. Want to know more? Contact us today talk to one of our harvest solution experts.
Visit www.CBDHempDryer.com to download full specs.