The Hemp Drying Process: Machines and Best Practices

The hemp industry is growing faster and faster every year.

And, in order to keep up, you need to find the most efficient way of drying your hemp.

In this article, we’ll discuss different hemp drying techniques and the equipment you need for them. We’ll also talk about how much hemp you should be able to process in a certain amount of time based on which technique you choose.

How Do You Dry A Hemp Plant?

There’s more than one way to do hemp drying. Below are some of the most common drying methods.

Manual Drying

There are two primary ways you can manually dry your hemp. You can do it through a hanging or screen drying process or you can do it via freeze-drying.

Hanging and screen drying is a catch-all term for a variety of methods, but with each of them, you’re essentially hanging up bundles of hemp and letting it dry naturally. You can hang your hemp using wire racks, or screens and you can either literally hang your hemp or you can lie it down on a screen. How you choose to do it will depend on the amount of hemp you harvest and the amount of space you have for drying.

For example, industry experts say you need about 5,000 square feet of dry room to hang entire plants. But, if you’re shucking your plants before drying them, you can get away with a space that is only one hundredth that size. So something like a 50 square foot barn would be sufficient.

But with the ever-growing acceptance of hemp products comes new technological advances in the drying process.

Freeze-drying is an example of this.

You can purchase a larger freeze-drying freezer that will quickly freeze your hemp, transforming the water into ice crystals. Once the crystals form, the pressure changes in the freezer, separating your hemp from the crystals, leaving freeze-dried hemp that still retains the color and quality it had before being freeze-dried.

Rotary Drum Drying

Rotary drums work in a similar way to clothing dryers. You add your plant material to the rotary drum, the machine starts creating heat, and it rotates your hemp until it’s fully dried. Rotary machines are great because you can purchase large machines that can process thousands of pounds per hour. If you’re an industrial-sized hemp company, you can quickly process large amounts of hemp in a short time while in a small space. And the rotation element of the drying process helps guarantee an even dry.

Belt or Conveyor Drying

Belts and conveyor dryers help to give your hemp plants an even dry like the aforementioned rotary drums, but in a slightly different way. Essentially, you place the hemp on the conveyor belts and the belts move your hemp from shipping container to shipping container while creating heat that dries the hemp. The movement caused by the conveyor belts causes the plants to move around some and separate the different parts of the hemp from one another making it easier to sort. This movement is also what gives your hemp that even dry like the rotary drum.

Forced-Air Drying

One problem with rotary drum drying and belt or conveyor drying is that you stand to damage your hemp by overheating it. You can avoid this by using forced-air drying. The way forced-air drying works is you place your hemp in what’s essentially a large trailer and a machine attached to the trailer blows a lot of air through the trailer. This creates a moderately dry, low-temperature environment that will dry your hemp faster than manual drying. Although it’ll take longer to dry your hemp this way, you have a lower chance of damaging it with excessive heat.

Budgets, size of operation, and other factors should all be considered as you decide how exactly you want to go about drying your hemp. Just know that there are plenty of different options out there depending on what your needs look like.

How Long Does It Take Hemp To Dry

How long it takes to dry hemp will depend on which of the drying processes you use. For example, forced air dryers will take around 36 hours to dry two acres worth of hemp. This is slower than drying it with a rotary drum or a belt dryer, but significantly faster than drying it by hand, which could take several weeks.

For context. a single conveyor belt system can probably dry about 200 acres of plant material in a day (depending on the size of the system.)

General Kinematics Can Help You With All Of Your Drying And Cooling Needs

If you’re running a hemp company, you need dependable equipment that will help you dry your product quickly and efficiently. General Kinematics has that exact equipment.

In fact, we’re industry leaders when it comes to both heating and drying equipment. From drums to conveyors and beyond, General Kinematics can help you quickly, efficiently, and effectively produce high-quality dried hemp that will sell.

Come check out our heating and drying equipment today!

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