Modernizing Hemp Drying for Efficiency and Profit

Modernizing Hemp Drying for Efficiency and Profit

For years, farmers hung hemp plants in environmentally controlled tobacco barns, where the harvest required a drying-time of three to five days. The barns needed to be retrofitted with forced-air units to dry the excess moisture out of the plants. Each farm required as many as 20 barns, each large enough to hold up to an acre’s worth of harvested plants. 

There has been a steep rise in the hemp growing industry since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp-derived products. It’s no wonder many farmers started looking for ways to cash in on this rapidly growing market. Just three years ago, the U.S. hemp industry was producing around $820M in revenue, but experts expect that number to rise by approximately 15% by 2022.

A Better Way for Hemp Drying

When properly dried and processed, valuable CBD oil can be extracted from the hemp plant and used in a variety of in-demand products. While the former process of harvesting, drying and storing was adequate for growing a couple of acres of crop, hemp growers who wanted to increase their production quickly realized the need to speed the rate at which wet biomass is processed. 

Louisville Dryer did extensive research to develop a dryer that would alleviate the need for faster drying. We started with a desire to understand the unique position of hemp farmers. Hank Lawson, our Senior Process Engineer, made it his mission to learn how our company could best support hemp farmers and improve their business. 

“Properly drying your hemp is an essential part of processing it for CBD oil extraction or other medical or industrial purposes. I made it my mission to get you the best equipment to speed up your drying process, while also understanding all of your pain points as a grower.”

– Hank Lawson, Senior Process Engineer

Hank grew two-acres of hemp and saw the farming process through to drying and extraction. It provided invaluable insights into what hemp farmers experience as they plant, grow, harvest, dry, and extract. The most notable thing Hank learned was how much work it takes to grow hemp. After enduring the entire process, it was even more motivating to the Louisville Dryer team to develop the best agricultural-grade direct heat dryer available to our hemp farming clients. 


Farming, Drying, and Processing Hemp to Maximize your Harvest – Our Journey


Specific Needs for Drying Hemp 

Using Hank’s research, Louisville Dryer designed and manufactured our hemp drying system to improve your specific hemp-drying needs. Our design implements the same technology we have been using for decades to dry other agricultural products successfully but addresses two particular needs. 

Steam Tube Dryer

Steam Tube Dryer

#1: Moisture Levels Reduction

Hemp has a naturally high moisture level content, making it is critical to reducing its biomass to an acceptable level of moisture to extract quality CBD oil. 

#2: Decarboxylation Process 

If you wish to create CBD products from the cannabinoid-rich oil extracts derived from your hemp harvest, decarboxylation is essential. It is the necessary process of converting THCA or CBDA into the THC or CBD. 

Get The Outcome You Need

What if you could expedite decarboxylation through the drying process? You can.

Hemp dried in our Steam Tube Dryer aids in the decarboxylation process at the same time moisture is removed. This makes the extraction process move faster. 

We developed our steam dryer models to specifically dry 4, 6, 8 and up to 10 tons of wet hemp biomass per hour with an output moisture content between 10-12%. The result is a more efficient extraction with a higher yield. And a higher yield means higher profit per acre.

Louisville Dryer also builds direct heat dryers for customers who do not have steam.

Removing a Barrier to Higher Profit

While our hemp dryer shares many similarities to our other direct heat dryers, one distinguishing factor for this product is that it’s priced especially for the agricultural economy. It is more affordable than some of our other models of direct heat dryers.

If you’re looking for a more efficient drying system that includes decarboxylation, we can help streamline your process. 

We Are Here for You

Reach out directly to Hank for his specific insights into the unique issues involved with growing, harvesting, and drying hemp. He is always happy to have a conversation and is uniquely positioned to anticipate your needs.

If you’d like to contact Hank or any of our team members about a direct heat or steam tube dryer, please call us at (800) 735-3163 or fill out our online contact form. A more efficient and profitable drying method could change everything for your hemp business. 


4 Unique Insights About Hemp Farming and Drying

4 Unique Insights About Hemp Farming and Drying

For years, the hemp crop was vilified alongside its sister plant, marijuana. With the government loosening laws around growing hemp for the first time in more than 80 years, popularity is on the rise for CBD oils, hemp milk, hemp beer, and other hemp-based products. The industry is booming, and hemp growers need a reliable drying system that will allow them to stay ahead of the demand. 

Because of industry-specific obstacles hemp growers face, Louisville Dryer set out to understand the unique position of hemp farmers. Hank Lawson,  Senior Process Engineer at Louisville Dryer, made it his personal mission to learn the best way our company can support hemp farmers and improve their business. 

“I went through the entire process to see what it takes to plant, grow, and harvest hemp,” Hank explains. “I grew two acres of the crop and harvested it with my family, Then, we used what we harvested to test the drying process. We experimented with the product in different types of dryers, so we could find out exactly how they could be most effective for the growers.”

Here are 4 unique insights Hank uncovered about hemp farming and drying.

Farming, Drying, and Processing Hemp to Maximize your Harvest – Our Journey



#1: Growing Hemp Is Challenging  

The challenge for hemp farmers starts with planting and harvesting. Hemp is not an easy crop to produce. It requires high fertility soil and abundant organic matter to grow. It is also susceptible to moles, insects, and weeds, and it has very particular water needs. Hemp farmers deserve a lot of respect.  They are hardworking, knowledgeable and invest a great deal of time and energy to yield a quality product. 


#2: Old-Fashioned Hemp Drying is Inefficient  

There is a four-step process to go from seed to profitable product for the hemp farmer:

  1. Sow
  2. Grow
  3. Harvest
  4. Dry

Experience and scientific advances have helped to streamline the first three steps in the process, but most hemp growers are still drying their crop the old-fashioned way by cutting it into strips and hanging it in tobacco barns. A farmer can grow a couple of acres that way but to increase production, growers have to increase the rate at which they can process wet biomass. 

Steam Tube Dryer


#3: A Hemp-Specific Dryer Increases Profitability

Hemp farmers that want to keep pace with the demand know they need to invest in an agricultural dryer, but many traditional industrial dryers are too expensive. 

To make the hemp drying process easier and more profitable, Louisville Dryer engineered an industrial direct heat dryer exclusively for the hemp industry. Our new hemp-specific design implements the same technology we have been using for decades to successfully dry other agricultural products. 

The most significant difference in the hemp-specific dryer is that it is substantially more affordable than other industrial dryers.

It can handle four tons of wet biomass per hour and offers hemp growers a massive increase in productivity over traditional drying methods. This revolutionary dryer is available to help hemp farmers increase efficiency in their operation, which ultimately leads to higher profitability. 


#4: Steam Tube Dryers Can Process THC and CBD

Steam Tube Dyers can process THC and CBD. Through multiple experiments, we discovered that hemp dried in our Steam Tube Dryer went through the decarboxylation process. This is the necessary reaction where the organically present THCA or CBDA is converted into THC or CBD, which provides the consumer with the desired medicinal effects of the product. 

Growers who are looking to decarboxylate their hemp product could consider using a Louisville Dryer Steam Tube Dryer to streamline their process, improve productivity, and ultimately increase profits. 

Contact Hank Lawson

“Going through the experience of the experimental hemp farm,” Hank says, “helped me understand our customers and their unique struggles, Now I can serve them better, and that has made the whole experiment worth it.”

We invite our hemp customers to reach out directly to Hank for any additional insights into the unique issues involved with growing hemp. He is always happy to have a conversation and uniquely positioned to anticipate your needs.

If you’d like to contact Hank or any of our team members about a direct heat or steam tube dryer, please call us at (800) 735-3163 or fill out our online contact form. A more efficient and profitable drying method could change everything for your hemp business.

Mash to Cash • Insight from the Inside

Mash to Cash • Insight from the Inside

Whiskey distilleries across the United States craft unique products with intricate balances of complex characteristics. Each facility is as distinct as the landscape that surrounds it and the people who orchestrate the production of its beloved spirits. Different as they may be, there’s one inescapable quandary shared among them all; once the good stuff is made, there’s a whole heap of stuff they have to get rid of. 

Distilleries have two choices when it comes to spent grain:

  • Scramble and try to give the spent grain away before it rots.
  • Turn the grain into something of value and let it make them money.

We asked an expert insider to get to the root of what distillers really want to know about turning their waste into profit – how to do it and if it’s worth it? Jack Schanie, the Applications Engineer for Louisville Dryer, has eyes and ears on the ground every day in this niche field and tells us what he knows about the business of distillers grains.

What are distillers grains?

Essentially, it’s the leftovers after distillation – or the material that was not converted to alcohol through the fermentation process. A liquid consisting mostly of protein, fiber, fat, and water remains in the still and is no longer useful to distilleries. This material is called Whole Stillage and needs to be disposed of quickly and properly to prevent slowdowns in production.




“The value of the material may be a significant portion of the original grain purchase.”

-Jack Schanie, Applications Engineer, Louisville Dryer Company








How do distilleries dispose of these grains?

This material cannot be disposed of through sewage treatment, so it’s processed as a byproduct. Some distillers will give it away as Wet Distillers’ Grain (WDG) to local farmers, or ship it short distances at a cost. WDG can be fed to livestock, but the problem is, if it’s not transported and consumed immediately, it will spoil or rot, leaving it useless.

The solution is to dry the material in a rotary dryer at the distillery. This way, it can be stored for long periods of time. Distillers can sell it as a nutrient-rich feed additive for cattle, hogs, chickens, and fish. The term for this product is DDG (Distillers Dried Grains) or DDGS (Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles).


What are the advantages of drying distillers’ grains, and how can this process benefit distilleries?

The benefits of the process are a win/win situation for both the distillery and agricultural industries. Drying the grains significantly extends the shelf life of the byproduct. Dried Distillers Grains typically last six to twelve months in a cool, dry warehouse or silo, compared to Wet Distillers Grains, which have a shelf life of less than one week. Drying makes the grains more valuable to farmers, and it’s easier for distilleries to unload while making them money instead of costing them money.


Is DDGS a viable source of revenue for a distillery?

Yes. For distillers with large quantities of WDG that don’t have a dependable local source to accept it, DDGS converts waste into a revenue source. In fact, once the WDG is dried, the value of the material may be a significant portion of the original grain purchase.



What’s necessary to dry distillers’ grains?

Two crucial elements are necessary:

  • The proper equipment
  • A partnership and support from an experienced team in the industry

The main component in the equipment is a Rotary Steam Tube Dryer. It’s a heat exchanger that uses the energy in steam to dry the material. It’s the best method because it provides more gentle heating, which gives the grains a light color. And that’s the key when assessing the value of the DDG product.

Engineering the equipment to adequately handle the weight and size of the material, mixing, air pollution control, and efficiency is vital for effective operation. There’s a lot that goes into it, and the proper design for all the moving parts is critical for distilleries. That’s why Louisville Dryer designs, engineers, and distributes dryhouses complete with everything a distillery needs to process their DDGS, and all the back-up and support of the leaders in the industry. 


Which distilleries are currently preparing and selling DDGS?

Most large distilleries and ethanol plants make DDG/DDGS. Louisville Dryer is the preferred equipment throughout the Bourbon Trail in distilleries such as Buffalo Trace, Jack Daniels, Wild Turkey, and others.


What kind of history does Louisville Dryer have in the Distillery industry?

Louisville Dryer has been building steam tube dryers for distilleries for over one hundred years and continues to do so. We’re proud to have a history of trust and reliability in the industry. We built the oldest known DDG dryer, which is still operating in the Old Forrester Plant in Louisville, Kentucky. The unit started drying in 1932 and has run continuously for eighty-seven years. We only recently replaced three dryers at Buffalo Trace, which were manufactured in 1944.


What are the benefits of going with a Louisville Dryer product?  

Louisville Dryers are designed to last. Louisville Dryer Company builds very robust equipment designed to run twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with minimal shutdowns. We hold ourselves to the highest standard of quality when it comes to our workmanship. Distilleries who invest in a dryhouse from Louisville Dryer know they are getting a quality dryer that will last for years to come.


Where can distilleries get what they need to successfully and efficiently prepare DDGS?  

Louisville Dryer can put together complete equipment proposals for dryhouse designs for any distillery to prepare DDGS.

Our team is ready to help distilleries turn their waste into profits. Contact us today to learn more!